Hyundai Nexo fuel-cell SUV verdicts: classy, zippier, still a "niche vehicle"
The Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel-cell SUV that debuted last month at the Consumer Electronics Show won't be seen on California roads for many months yet. It is expected to go on sale in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of this year, but now we have a few reports from outlets that have driven the one SUV whose only tailpipe emission is water. The general consensus is that the Nexo is a more integrated, more refined, and likely far more practical vehicle in daily use than was its predecessor. . . .
While the hydrogen-powered Tucson was good enough for a vehicle not originally designed for that powertrain, we found its performance slow, especially at highway speeds. The Nexo, on the other hand, is a dedicated hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, meaning the model is not available with any other powertrain. . . .
While the quality of the interior materials surpasses that of other Hyundais, Auto Express said, it's still not comparable to what you'd find in standard premium SUVs from the predictable list of German, British, and Japanese players. Hyundai said it expects the car's fuel-cell stack to last at least 10 years, or twice the predicted lifespan of the one used in the Tucson Fuel Cell.
That durability is combined with comparable passenger volume and cargo space to other SUVs of its size, the reviewers said, despite the large high-pressure hydrogen tanks nestled in the undercarriage. . . .
It called the hydrogen SUV "zippier to drive" than the Tucson Fuel Cell, with better acceleration and more torque from a motor with a higher output of 120 kilowatts (161 horsepower) vs the Tucson's 100 kw (134 hp). The Nexo is projected to earn an EPA range rating of more than 350 miles, Hyundai told attendees at the Seoul drive event. . . .
In the end, Auto Express concluded, "As good as the Nexo is, it’s still a niche vehicle that’s difficult to recommend" due to the limited fueling infrastructure.
That summation falls firmly in the "Well, Duh!" category. Direct links to the Auto Express and and Automotive news articles which the GCR article is based on, are here: http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/hyundai/nexo/102690/new-hyundai-nexo-fuel-cell-suv-2018-reviewhttp://www.autonews.com/article/20180219/OEM04/180219745/hyundai-nexo-is-a-rolling-showcase-of-self-driving-eco-car-technology
The Auto Express article includes lots of photos. I think it's decent looking from the side, quite nice from the rear, and the front, well, it's better than a Mirai, Clarity or Prius! IMO it's the only one whose looks don't qualify it as a weirdmobile. From the Automotive news article:
The Nexo’s overall fuel cell stack is also more efficient. Its power density improves by half, its overall size drops 18 percent to save space under the hood, and it is 14 percent lighter.
The Nexo is also zippier to drive, accelerating faster than the Tucson with more torque. . . .
Meanwhile, Hyundai is loading the Nexo with new self-driving and advanced safety systems.
It gets an around-view camera blind-spot monitor that sees angles on both sides of the car that can’t be reached by traditional mirrors. It beams images the blind spots to a display in the center console of the car while changing lanes -- a system Hyundai claims is world-first technology.
The lane following assist function -- a first for Hyundai -- enables the car to steer itself down the road and keep centered in the lane. It works at speeds from 0 to 90 mph.
Finally, Hyundai is deploying a remote parking assist function in the Nexo. . . .
From the Auto Express article:
. . . Impressively, given the size of the hydrogen tanks underneath the floor the NEXO, there’s little compromise to be found in terms of space. Head and legroom in the rear is perfectly good, even for six footers, and while the 471-litre boot isn’t that deep, it’s plenty big enough for most families’ needs. There’s a decent amount of cabin storage, too. . . .
0-62mph is taken care of in a decent 9.7 seconds, and it feels sprightly enough off the line for what’s likely a two-tonne SUV. However, in the same way as a typical EV performance tails off noticeably at motorway speeds. Still, there’s enough poke to satisfy the average motorist.
Our drive of the NEXO consisted mainly of motorway driving, but even on twisting slip roads the weight of the three hydrogen tanks and powertrain was noticeable, with pronounced body lean. But ease off and you’re rewarded with a supple ride thanks to soft, long-travel suspension, and strong refinement marred only by a rustle of wind noise. We’ll have to wait for final production versions to arrive in the UK for a definitive verdict, however. . . .
No prices announced. FWIW, the Forester model I currently drive managed 9.6 sec. 0-60 when tested by C&D, and I've always found that adequate for my needs so this would probably work for me, as long as the passing capability is reasonable at two-lane mountain road speeds, i.e. start speed 20-55 mph, end speed 20 mph higher. The Auto Express article also mentions that the overall efficiency of the stack is 60%, which while not in BEV territory is still well above any ICE - I think the highest efficiency I've seen claimed for a production ICE was 40% recently, but I forget whether it was Toyota or somebody else.