Toyota sold some 10,000 examples of the first-generation Mirai, which was itself a close relation of the third-generation Prius hybrid of 2010. This second one is aiming for many times that market success, though; and while the car is fuelled and powered the same way, it’s a markedly different car from its predecessor.
Owners of the first Mirai told its maker they wanted longer operating range, and better comfort and practicality, from their cars. At the same time, Toyota wanted to lure new Mirai owners with a car of significantly greater luxuriousness, material quality and static desirability than the original. One that could have the rounded appeal of a really upmarket product, and be desired for reasons besides its sustainability credentials.
All of which explains why the new Mirai shares a technical architecture not with a Prius but with a rear-driven Lexus LS limousine. The mixed-metal chassis platform has been braced, adapted and reinforced to account for the specific application of a fuel cell powertrain, getting die-cast suspension towers, special sills and ring-shaped bulkhead reinforcements for extra rigidity. Suspension is by steel coils and independent multiple links front and rear.
And so the Mirai becomes a full-sized luxury car: one that’s 85mm longer and 70mm wider than it was, with a wheelbase some 140mm longer also. It now comfortably eclipses the footprint of a current BMW 5 Series. As we’ll go on to explain, the Mirai has now got a proper five-seat cabin too, although boot space is a little more restricted than you might expect.