Toyota Mirai engines, drive & performance

A punchy but near silent motor and comfy ride make the Toyota Mirai an appealing drive

With performance comparable to a 2.0-litre petrol engine car but none of the engine roar, and a cabin that’s well insulated from tyre and wind noise, the Toyota Mirai offers a genuinely luxurious and refined driving experience. It’s no sports car, but it handles as well as most battery-powered rivals.

Toyota Mirai fuel cell, electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

The Toyota Mirai fuel cell is not only compact, it also boasts what Toyota claims is a world-leading output. Anyway, it’s capable of providing sufficient electrical current to drive the electric motor – on demand, when you put your foot on the accelerator. The development has also focused on longevity, and as a result Toyota claims the fuel cell will still be working at full capacity beyond the predicted lifespan of the vehicle.

The rest of the powertrain set-up mirrors that of the Toyota Prius hybrid, with the fuel cell replacing the mechanical drive of the Prius’s petrol engine. As in the Prius, the Mirai’s small battery assists with extra power when required, and is kept topped-up by regenerative braking when the car slows.

The motor’s maximum power output is rated at 152bhp, but it’s the instantaneous delivery of torque that makes the Mirai feel so quick off the line. So responsive is the car to throttle inputs at lower speeds that it feels quicker than the claimed 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds. At higher speeds, the acceleration is equivalent to a petrol-powered 2.0-litre saloon, and the top speed is 111mph. It’s all accomplished very smoothly, with only a faint whine audible as the car accelerates. The motor drives the wheels directly too, so there’s no gear-changing to hamper smooth progress.

Handling

The Mirai is quite a heavy car that tips the scales at 1,850kg, whereas a diesel Volkswagen Passat is around 400kg lighter. However, the Mirai is quite softly sprung and rides very comfortably over UK roads. It has a low centre of gravity, too, but you can feel the extra weight when driving around corners – even though the steering is nice and direct. The car really performs at its best on motorways and around town where there’s no temptation to look for any undiscovered sporting pretensions. Driven to its strengths, it’s an impressively competent, quiet and refined machine that’s actually quite fun from behind the wheel.