What is it?
It sounds like an industrial process when it drives by. And from inside, when you sink the throttle deep, it’s like hearing Dr Who’s Tardis on manoeuvres, although without the panting effect. Fuel cell Toyota?
We’ve driven these before, of course, in the Highlander SUVs used as mules for over a decade. This is a mule too, but with a difference: the innards of this car are virtually the same as those of the production fuel cell saloon Toyota plans to launch in Japan late next year.
What's it like?
It will be among the first series production fuel cell cars to go on sale (Honda’s admirable FCX Clarity was leased in limited numbers), although Hyundai is promising a rival. The Toyota will get a fuller preview in styling terms at next month’s Tokyo motor show, where a concept version will be unveiled. This is said to be very close to the finished article. Its design will differ hugely from the three-box you see here, which is based on the Lexus HS250h. At that point Toyota will also release more technical detail.
The system’s power output is around 130bhp, and there’s plenty of the strong, effortless torque that characterises an electrically propelled car’s step-off. The acceleration dulls once the car is moving, but it remains brisk and, with no gears to shift, the power delivery is continuous.