Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what is it?

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what is it?

This is a Two-Minute Road Test with a difference. This is Hyundai’s ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle, driven by an electric motor. But unlike conventional electric cars, you don’t have to charge it up by plugging it in. Instead, you fill it up with hydrogen, and this reacts with oxygen to provide a range of 369 miles while emitting nothing but water.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what are its rivals?

The problem with hydrogen-powered cars currently is the lack of places to refuel them. Until there are more hydrogen filling stations, manufacturers won’t build hydrogen cars, and until there are more hydrogen cars, there won’t be more hydrogen filling stations… You get the idea. As such, rivals are currently limited. Toyota is about to launch its Mirai, which will be more expensive than the ix35 but has been designed from the ground-up as a hydrogen car.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what’s special about this car?

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what’s special about this car?

This is where this Two-Minute Road Test gets even more unusual. The ix35 FCEV we’re testing here is actually the manufacturer’s ‘Streetcar Named Hyundai’. It’s being used to take photos of every street in London – 650,000 in total – spread over 50 days and culminating in a timelapse video and a mosaic that will be displayed in London’s City Hall.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what’s it like to drive?

We joined the team in west London for a shift in the driver’s seat. If you have to drive in congested areas, the Hyundai ix35 FCEV is a really relaxing way of doing it. There’s next to no noise, it rides well and the ix35’s high-up driving position provides excellent visibility.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: fuel economy and running costs

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: fuel economy and running costs

The Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell can store up to 5.6kg of hydrogen. If you can find somewhere to fill it up, it’ll cost you around £4 per kg. That means you’ll be looking at around £22 per ‘tank’ – and, Hyundai claims, you’ll have a range of up to 369 miles from that. That means it’ll cost roughly half as much as a diesel rival to run.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: is it practical?

The nice thing about the ix35 Fuel Cell is it’s just like a normal crossover SUV in most ways. The batteries are situated under the floor – adding around 150kg to the weight but not taking away boot space. Our main criticism is that it’s feeling a bit dated now – the regular ix35 has been replaced by the Tucson, but there’s no word on a Tucson Fuel Cell yet. Now that could be a very tempting proposition.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what about safety?

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: what about safety?

The ix35 Fuel Cell hasn’t been tested by NCAP, but the regular model was awarded an impressive five stars when it was tested in 2010. We can’t imagine there being any safety concerns over the hydrogen model.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: how much does it cost?

The problem with this technology is its price. It’s still very much in its infancy – so development costs are high and, as it’ll only sell in very small numbers for the time being, Hyundai can’t afford to sell them cheap. As such, it’ll cost you £53,105 – and that’s taking a £15,000 European grant into account. Being an early adopter isn’t cheap.

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: should I buy one?

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: should I buy one?

Are you a company that wants to make a statement about your eco-credentials? Are you located in London, where most of the hydrogen filling stations currently are? If so, the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell potentially makes a lot of sense. But for private owners? Wait a few years, but the future is definitely exciting…

Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: pub fact

Some big names are taking part in the Streetcar Named Hyundai challenge – including female Olympic boxing champion Nicole Adams and Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing. The car will complete more than 2,000 miles – all within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross.