Although much has changed beneath the Clarity’s skin, the skin itself has remained familiarly unorthodox.

European efforts to slide zero-emissions technology under the comfort blanket of established styling language apparently carries no weight with the Japanese.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Opening the bonnet allows you to admire the tolerances involved: the engine bay is brimmed with fuel cell, making it impossible to see the electric motor and gearbox

The Clarity, much like the Mirai, strains hard for an ugly-duckling futurism that frumpily conveys its divergence from internal combustion. As ever, this might conceivably work in Santa Monica or Tokyo, but not so much in Solihull or Tamworth.

Of course, functionally, the Clarity is less about pleasing the eye than it is soothing the surrounding airflow.

There is an awful lot of channelling and ducting going on in the name of aerodynamic efficiency, just as the car’s shape is partly dictated by the packaging requirements of the underside. Developments made in this regard are at the vanguard of the new model’s improvements, most notably in the downsizing of the fuel cell stack, which allows it to be housed under the bonnet and not in an intrusive transmission tunnel, as it was previously.

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This means that three can now sit in the back – no mean feat when there are also two hydrogen tanks and a lithium ion battery to accommodate.

The tanks are smaller in physical capacity than before but the contents are kept at twice the pressure, so they are capable of storing almost 40 percent more fuel. With the tanks in the back (under the boot floor and rear seats), the battery pack is beneath the front seats and itself produces 50 percent more output than its predecessor.

Alongside the better energy storage required for greater range, the Clarity’s energy production has been enhanced.

Condensing the size of the fuel cell stack by a third has not decreased its output. In fact, the electric power per cell has increased by 50 percent, partly thanks to the introduction of a two-stage compressor that boosts air supply by 70 percent (while being 40 percent smaller than the pump it replaces).

By delivering it more voltage, the main drive motor’s output improves, too, with peak torque now 17 percent higher, at 221lb ft, and a maximum rotational speed of 13,000rpm – the highest of any Honda fuel cell vehicle to date.

To make things even easier on the fettled high-tech, the manufacturer has sought further efficiency gains in the Clarity’s construction.

Its chassis remains bespoke and has a much higher proportion of aluminium, composites and ultra-high-tensile steel than would typically be devoted to a mainstream product.

This doesn’t prevent the car from being the best part of two tonnes, but by weighing roughly the same as the lower-powered Mirai, the Clarity can be claimed to be on the edge of the fuel cell envelope

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