Investments in alternative energy sources has seen a dramatic increase over the past few years. This is partly due to the mounting concern of the environment and the fast depleting reserves of oils around the world. While most manufacturers have turned to electric or eletro-petrol drivetrains, a few manufacturers have taken a different route. Car makers such as Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai have turned to hydrogen. Although hydrogen was considered a highly unstable source of immense energy back in the nineteenth century, scientists and engineers have managed to store the element within fuel cells; a far safer format. Here, we take a look at Toyota and Honda, two of the biggest Japanese automakers in the world and see how their hydrogen based products fare against each other.
The Toyota Mirai is one of the most striking sedans currently available in the market. The front plays host to sleek, sporty all-LED headlights and vertically stacked LED daytime running lights and a heavily sculpted lower bumper that sports chrome accents along the fog lamp enclosures. The sharp contours and aggressive design language remains close to Toyota’s current philosophy and provides the Mirai with an aura of sportiness mixed with futurism. The side features flared wheel arches that flow into rear and integrate with the tail lights. The singular brake light strip that runs along the width of the Mirai and its taillight cluster design brings to mind a more cyberpunk theme than that of a contemporary one.
The Honda Clarity’s exterior is far more conventional than the Toyota Mirai. However, despite the unassuming silhouette, standard bonnet and orthodox ORVMs, the front grille features a sliver accent that runs along the entirety of the Honda Clarity’s front end to integrate directly with the headlights. This atypical design style coupled with the vertically stacked LED DRLs provide the Clarity with some much needed personality. The full size sedan also features the headlight design commonly seen on more upmarket models from the Japanese car maker marketed under the moniker Acura.
Winner: Toyota Mirai
The interior of the Mirai sedan plays host to one of the most advanced dashboards ever fitted on a Toyota. With a primary display for the infotainment system and a smaller secondary display unit for the climate controls, the Mirai allows for easy access for the most commonly used features in a vehicle. Both units are controlled by capacitive touch keys while the primary display serves as a touchscreen as well. Similar to a few models available here in India, Toyota has adopted a centrally mounted instrument cluster rather than the more conventional driver side position. The instrument cluster features three separate displays. With the first display feeding the user a summary of important data such as driving mode, fuel gauge, current speed and fuel economy; The secondary display produces a “green” score indicating the efficiency of the user’s driving style while the third display is a conventional LED digital clock.
While the dashboard of the Mirai is extremely striking to look at, the rest of the cabin is far more conventional. The all black interior accentuated by silver finishes provides a sporty feel with luxurious undertones.
Similar to its exteriors, the Honda Clarity’s cabin is fairly conventional. The all black cabin features a conventional infotainment system and digital displays for the instrument cluster and climate control. The main unit is a touchscreen system that allows control over climate control and the music system. However, unlike most manufacturers that offer in-house developed music systems, the Clarity comes with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Winner: Toyota Mirai
Under the Hood
Powering the Toyota Mirai is a front mounted synchronous AC motor that is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Power is sent to the front wheels via a one speed gearbox. Despite its immense weight and the meager 152 hp dished out by the hydrogen fuel cell powered electric motor, the Mirai manages the 0-100 kmph milestone in an impressive 9.4 seconds.
The Honda Clarity is also powered by a synchronous electric motor that churns out 134 hp and 189 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through a single speed gearbox.
Although the Honda Clarity fits more people in its cabin, the Toyota Mirai beats its competitor in almost every other conceivable way. The cyberpunk aesthetic, upmarket interiors and LED/projector headlights produce a feeling of luxury and a road presence stronger than even most entry level sports cars. The Mirai is a sign of a bright and interesting future.