On the one hand the ix35 is exactly as you know it; a mid-sized large MPV that majors on good value, generous equipment levels and a comfort-biased driving experience. However it is the fuel-cell technology that makes this unlike any other car on sale in the UK today.
The ix35 Fuel Cell runs on hydrogen, which is split in the fuel cell to create electricity that feeds the electric motors. That means zero emissions like an electric car but with petrol-like range – a claimed 369 miles on a single tank. The performance is more than sufficient too, with a top speed of 100mph and 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds.
Looks and image
Ignore the additional stickers and you wouldn’t be able to tell the Fuel Cell ix35 from conventional powered stablemates, which is of course entirely deliberate. It’s a handsome beast whatever is under the bonnet with the kind of chunky but modern looks that are a big part of SUV appeal.
Being the first manufacturer to offer a fuel cell vehicle for sale in the UK can do no harm to Hyundai’s image, which is already strong thanks to its broad range of models, impressive value and generous warranty programmes.
Space and practicality
From the inside you’d never know that the ix35 has such a radical powerplant beneath its skin. The driving position is the same, there’s the same automatic transmission lever as available on other models and the usual two pedals. You can take the family with you too; the good space on offer front and rear is unchanged, although the addition of the hydrogen tanks means the boot space is reduced – but there’s still 436 litres available.
Behind the wheel
It’s worth remembering that the ix35 uses electric as its means of propulsion, just like other electric cars; the fuel cell is the means of providing that electricity. So the driving experience is identical to that of many electric cars, with brisk acceleration from low speeds and impressively low noise levels. That makes for a very relaxing drive, particularly as the ix35 Fuel Cell has a key advantage over conventional electric cars in respect of its range.
It makes life behind the wheel even more relaxing when you know you don’t have to watch the range readout like a hawk, and you can complete long journeys without having to stop repeatedly. It drives just as well as the standard car too even though there’s a little more weight; the ride quality is good on a mix of surfaces and there’s little body roll through the corners.
Value for money
Compared to a conventionally powered ix35 the Fuel Cell model is unquestionably more expensive by some margin, but it’s important to compare like for like. The ix35 Fuel Cell gets all the option boxes ticked and in terms of running costs it has the potential to be significantly cheaper than petrol or diesel.
Who would buy one?
Currently there’s a sizeable caveat with the ix35 Fuel Cell, and that’s the availability of hydrogen filling stations. Hyundai are working in partnership with the HyFive consortium which promises five filling stations in London by the end of this year, which means anyone living a significant distance from the capital is going to have issues. For Londonites then it’s a dream come true, but that goes for all road users with no emissions bar water vapour there’s benefits for everyone.
For anyone outside of London the ix35 Fuel Cell is one for the future. Hydrogen filling stations will come, but it will take time. Hopefully not too long, because more filling stations will see the price of fuel and hydrogen cars drop too.
This car summed up in a single word: Revolutionary
If this car was a…: book of the Bible it would be Genesis (which is also a Hyundai…)
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell, £53,105
Engine: Electric motor producing 134bhp and 221lb/ft of torque
Transmission: Fixed ratio automatic gearbox driving the front wheels
Performance: Top speed 100mph, 0-62mph in 12.5 seconds
Economy: 0.95 H2kg/100km
Emissions: Zero CO2 emissions at the tailpipe