► New Hyundai NEXO hydrogen SUV
► Follows on from ix35 Fuel Cell
► We get full debrief at European HQ
Hyundai’s hydrogen future is entering its next stage with the new NEXO, a fuel cell SUV that the brand is hoping will help interest in hydrogen cars go from simmer to boil.
NEXO is part of Hyundai’s plan to offer 18 ‘eco-friendly’ models by 2025, and CAR went to the brand’s European headquarters for a proper poke around.
Tell me about the design
Looks futuristic, doesn’t it? Everything you see is production spec, including the central light bar running underneath the edge of the bonnet.
Design details include small vents in the front bumper that allow airflow to pass through the wheel wells and thin vents incorporated into the D-pillar for better aerodynamic efficiency; NEXO has a drag co-efficient of 0.329 compared to the ix35’s 0.35.
Frank Meijer, Hyundai’s Head of Eco Car and Mobility, calls the conventional packaging ‘a fantastic side effect’ for the hydrogen powertrain underneath as, although the SUV shape makes sense to fit the hydrogen tanks and drivetrain, it was not considered to be the top priority. Making an attractive SUV was.
What about the interior?
The first thing you really notice is the huge centre console that slopes down from the dashboard. It’s almost Lexus-like in its design, with a wealth of albeit very organised buttons and switches, plus a BMW iDrive-style control wheel for the huge 12.3-inch infotainment screen.
NEXO comes complete with Hyundai’s latest self-driving tech under its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) acronym, and includes some clever tech tidbits, including blind-spot view monitors that appear on the infotainment screen when you're changing lanes, plus lane-keeping and remote parking.
As for space, the conventional SUV packaging means an airy cabin and a huge 800-litre boot with an appreciably flat floor. Rear seat legroom but headroom is tight for taller people due to the panoramic sunroof invading the roof lining.
Gimme some performance specs
The NEXO runs on a dedicated platform, has a lighter powertrain, larger hydrogen storage tanks and a more powerful electric motor at 120kW compared to its ix35 predecessor. It’s front wheel drive only, is capable of a 0-62mph sprint in 9.2 seconds and a top speed of 111mph. Range is expected to peak at around 500 miles.
There are three hydrogen tanks at 52 litres each, running to a pressure of 700 bar, and the whole system runs at a 60% efficiency rate – the ix35 had an efficiency rate in the low 50s.
When can I buy one and what's the UK price?
European production begins in the summer, while right-hand drive UK cars will start being built from November. UK sales will start in January 2019.
As for how much, Meijer is happy for the NEXO to be pricey. The ix35 Fuel Cell was being sold for around £53k in the UK, but he said ‘I hope it’s more expensive’, highlighting the fact that the NEXO is a more premium product than its predecessor.
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