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3.5 out of 5 3.5
Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5

High-tech hydrogen Hyundai pushes technology boundaries at a price

Hyundai Nexo SUV (19 on) - rated 3.5 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £69,495 - £69,495
Fuel economy
Not tested to latest standards
View pre-2017 economy specs
Insurance group 39 How much is it to insure?

PROS

  • There isn’t a more environmentally sustainable type of car
  • It’s comfortable, quiet and packed with high-tech kit
  • Can effectively drive itself where local laws allow
  • Doesn’t look as divisive as the Toyota Mirai

CONS

  • List price is prohibitively high
  • Infrastructure must grow significantly
  • Very few available to start with
  • Right now, an EV will be cheaper to buy and run

Hyundai Nexo SUV rivals

Toyota
Mirai
3.9 out of 5 3.9

Written by Gareth Evans on

The Hyundai Nexo is a hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV. Hyundai has a short track record of making hydrogen-powered SUVs, with the ix35 Fuel Cell - firm's first foray into hydrogen-powered technology, but this is a far more enticing and rounded proposition for early adopters of the tech.

This time around, the Nexo is a bespoke model rather than a conventional crossover modified to use fuel cell technology. That means it doesn’t suffer from the compromises of Hyundai's modified ix35, other than the fact that filling stations are few and far between in the early days.

This new technology means it doesn’t come cheap, with the Nexo available for £69,495 which falls slightly to £65,995 once the Government’s incentive is taken into consideration. However, you do get an ultra-modern car that’s still a fashionable SUV with space, a long list of standard equipment, and the knowledge that the car you’re driving is as clean as it can be in terms of harmful emissions (there are none).

The Nexo doesn’t have many rivals either, just the Toyota Mirai – another hydrogen-powered vehicle that’s very expensive to buy, albeit with ungainly four-door saloon bodywork – and the Honda Clarity, but that's not sold in the UK.

Alternatively, the most similar kind of cars are the latest suite of electric SUVs – namely the Audi E-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQ C.

Why should I consider a hydrogen fuel cell car?

There are a number of reasons why hydrogen – or H – may prove the fuel of choice of the future. The biggest is that it’s completely sustainable and ultra-clean in use – the by-products of electricity generation using a fuel cell to power a car are simply clean air and water. There are no nasty emissions at all. Furthermore, long-distance driving range is easier to achieve than it is with electric vehicles.

Hyundai states a real-world 370 miles is realistic in the Nexo, and we’ve got no reason to doubt this so far. The ‘official’ range is higher (414 miles), but calculated in lab conditions that you’re unlikely to be able to recreate driving in the real-world.

Guide to hydrogen fuel cell cars

Hyundai Nexo interior

How do you refuel a hydrogen car?

There’s a significant problem with a lack of filling stations – we’re up to 26 in the UK at time of publication (but some aren’t publicly accessible and others don't offer the fastest refuelling speeds) - but there are organisations investing money to change this now.

Hydrogen power is becoming more compelling, particularly when across Europe fuel cost works out at under 50% of that of petrol or diesel. 

It's also as easy to refuel a hydrogen car as a petrol or diesel one. Connect the filler pipe to the nozzle and wait for it to refill the tank in stages, building pressure as it does so. Time-wise it takes about twice as long as refilling a tank with petrol or diesel, but this is still significantly less time than it takes to charge an electric car.

What is the Hyundai Nexo like to drive?

It’s easy. In fact, it’s easier than most other cars: simply push the D (Drive) button on the central console and you’re away. Like the Hyundai Kona Electric, there are buttons in place of a traditional gear lever. The controls are light and it’s easy to see out, making it a hassle-free experience all-round.

Lots of high-tech equipment as standard

The Nexo comes loaded with every piece of kit available across the regular Hyundai range as standard. The 12.3-inch multimedia touchscreen is different though, with sharp graphics and a rotary dial to control it, meaning you don’t need to reach forward to touch it (although you can if you want to).

The cabin is designed with driver safety in mind, so there are loads of physical buttons – we’re happy to see this in a world where more and more functions are being integrated into touchscreens because it’s far safer than having to negotiate menus while you’re driving, however the majority are all the same size and shape (and there are a lot) and light in colour so you’ll need to learn where they all are.

Hyundai Nexo SUV rivals

Toyota
Mirai
3.9 out of 5 3.9