It’s very early days to have many benchmarks for production-ready fuel-cell cars but, thanks to the Mirai road test, we do have some – and so compare we must.

And although it didn’t beat the Mirai in every respect for which we recorded objective figures, the Clarity outperformed its rival in most.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The brake pedal is a little spongy, making it a bit tricky to be smooth with hard stops

Needing 9.0sec to hit 60mph from rest, the Clarity is not only almost precisely as accelerative as Honda claims, but it’s also more than a second quicker than the Toyota and about as quick as the average modern four-cylinder diesel executive saloon.

In fact, the Clarity not only neatly avoids being vulnerable to criticism for its performance, but it actually does a better job than a conventionally fuelled rival in one or two ways, too.

Because the car’s electric motor drives the wheels directly and therefore peak torque is behind you once you’re beyond around 40mph, performance feels strong at low speeds and increasingly less strong as you accelerate onwards.

But pedal response is always excellent and that makes driveability first-rate, particularly around town. There isn’t really any accelerative increment over which the Clarity is quicker than, say, a BMW 520d. (It might have been over 0-20mph, but we don’t measure that.)

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But it is quicker to respond to small pedal position changes – and it’s certainly quieter than the BMW at low speeds (59dB at 30mph, although at 50mph the Mirai is even quieter).

The car sounds, for the most part, like a battery-powered EV during normal driving. Its powertrain is almost noiseless at most pedal positions, with just the faintest whir starting up when you use the last 30 percent of the accelerator pedal’s travel. It is also often present at high speed.

Our test car was fitted with Michelin CrossClimate all-weather tyres and it could be expected to run marginally more quietly, and to stop more quickly on tarmac, with a more typical road tyre.

Even so, the 48.8m stopping distance it recorded from 70mph to rest was very creditable for a car of this size and proves that Honda hasn’t sacrificed a punitive amount of outright grip in order to cut the car’s rolling resistance and to boost its cruising range. 

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