Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell driven

  • Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell first commercially produced Hydrogen vehicle
  • Not currently available to private buyers
  • Promises 350+ mile range and low running costs

Not always a company renowned for world firsts, Hyundai has been commercially producing the first hydrogen powered vehicle since February of this year. There is one caveat though; its ix35 Fuel Cell is not currently, and nor is it mooted to be in the immediate future, available to the general public.

For now they’re only being made available to corporate fleets or city councils – Copenhagen has just taken delivery of its fleet – until 2015. By that time it hopes to have placed around 1,000 models, and assuming the infrastructure is put in place in time will investigate making a further 10,000 units fit for public consumption.

But that hasn’t stopped Parkers getting behind the wheel of a production model well ahead of that date to find out just how usable a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle really is.

Our test route was a short loop around the firm’s European factory in the Czech Republic, and time was limited in the car but the ix35 instantly impressed. As you’d expect there’s no ‘engine’ noise on startup, nor on the move, and performance feels stronger than it actually is thanks to instantaneous torque.

Save for this though the ix35 Fuel Cell drives very much like a normal ix35, which is in fact a good thing. The steering is light and the ride errs on the comfortable side of firm, though bodyroll is noticeable through the tighter bends – no doubt exaggerated by this car’s extra 100Kg over the conventionally powered models.

It’s pretty much the same story inside, where the materials, layout and space on offer to passengers will be familiar to any other ix35 driver. The boot is a shade smaller at 436 litres thanks to the placement of the hydrogen fuel tanks – and there’s no space for a spare wheel anymore – but room across the rear bench is identical.

Subtle changes to the instrument pack mean the left-hand dial now shows the delivery of the fuel cell’s power and charging state under braking – otherwise save for the Fuel Cell badge in the middle little has changed.

Though our car bore special Fuel Cell livery, without the stickers it’s harder to spot this model as anything different. There’s no exhaust pipe of course, and the tweaked front grille houses a blue Hyundai badge. Behind the metal-ringed fuel-filler flap there’s a special Hydrogen nozzle, not dissimilar to that found in LPG cars, which prevents you mis-fuelling the ix35 with diesel or petrol.

Fill it up to the brim, with 5.64Kg of hydrogen, and the firm expects the crossover to travel 369 miles. However, the fuel still isn’t readily available in the UK, and it’s currently a case of chicken and egg between the vehicle manufacturers and the fuelling infrastructure bosses.

Until that issue’s resolved we don’t expect hydrogen cars to be anything more than a pipe dream in the UK. Doesn’t make the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell any less relevant though 

Read the full Hyundai ix35 review here