And humanity being what it’s, we nonetheless favor crossovers by an enormous margin. Positive, says Hyundai. We’ll offer you what you need, however we will nudge you towards Sort I within the course of. For 2019, the Korean automaker is launching a double-pronged assault on the interior-combustion engine with a pair of crossovers — a pure-electric model of the Kona and the hydrogen-powered Nexo.
Hyundai is taking this strategy as a result of it believes electric and hydrogen fuel cell automobiles truly serve two totally different functions. In accordance with Dr. BoKi Hong of the corporate’s fuel cell R&D division, the longer term will not see a one-answer-matches-all revolution in publish-inner-combustion-engine (ICE) propulsion. Smaller automobiles — automobiles, bikes, Hen scooters — will be capable of run solely on electrical energy, however Dr. Hong says that bigger automobiles — cargo trucks, buses — might be powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
The rationale? Scalability. The bigger the vehicle, the much less sense it makes to equip it with a battery pack. Weight, value and refueling time all improve together with the size of the conveyance. The longer the space they need to journey — think cargo haulers or cross-nation buses — the much less sense it makes to make use of a battery electric vehicle (BEV).
Hydrogen, then again, provides a way more environment friendly means of storing and transporting power. A fuel cell drivetrain could be scaled as much as match bigger automobiles, nevertheless it does not require the identical proportion of fabric as a battery. Plus, filling up your hydrogen tanks is as fast as a gasoline prime-off, a bonus for lengthy-distance haulers.
Hyundai believes there’s room for fuel cell vehicle (FCV) passenger automobiles as properly, and the Nexo is Hyundai’s newest tackle a hydrogen car. Its first was launched in 2000, based mostly on a Santa Fe. That was adopted in 2013 by a Tucson-based mostly FCV. In contrast to these, the Nexo arrives on an all-new platform not shared with an present ICE-powered car.
Because it did with the Kona EV, Hyundai is providing a crossover in a phase the place one does not actually exist. The Toyota Mirai and the Honda Readability are each sedans, and oddly formed ones at that. The Nexo takes the type of a standard midsize crossover, with a wheelbase inside an inch or two of the size of the Mirai’s and the Readability’s. However due to its crossover physique fashion, interior headroom, shoulder room and legroom is far improved. Cargo room is not even a good battle, with the Nexo at 29.6 cubic ft, in contrast with the Mirai’s 15.zero cubic ft and Readability’s eleven.eight cubic ft.
Hyundai is aware of that folks will not be cross-buying the Nexo simply with different FCVs, however with all various-fuel automobiles. As such, they’re fast to inform you that the 380-mile range (for the Restricted; 354 for the standard Blue trim degree) and fast-“cost” capacity of the Nexo bests that of any zero-emissions vehicle, together with the $one hundred thirty five,000 Tesla Mannequin S P100D, which has a 315-mile range.
A part of that range is because of the Nexo’s aerodynamic strains. “I want I might inform you it was impressed by the spirit of innovation or one thing,” senior chief designer Chris Chapman stated concerning the Nexo’s styling, “however the primary function of buying the vehicle is to get a sticker within the HOV lane.” Chapman explains that the Tucson FCV wasn’t a devoted mannequin, and subsequently aerodynamics turned an impediment.
With the Nexo, Hyundai was in a position so as to add features akin to “air curtains” across the decrease entrance intakes and D-pillars, permitting molecules to truly circulate via the physique. Flush receding door handles and hidden wipers additionally assist scale back the coefficient of drag to zero.32, in contrast with the Tucson’s zero.35.
A part of the exterior was designed after “the sensation of the tide receding round your naked ft,” stated Chapman. “We studied desertscapes to duplicate sandstone eroded by wind and water.” The floating D-pillar has been a frequent design theme in recent times, however the Nexo disconnects the A-pillar as properly to create a floating cover. We’re not fairly positive it really works, nevertheless it’s inoffensive. “Others attempt too arduous to make FCVs look totally different, and it exhibits,” Chapman slyly hinted with out calling out particular names. “We think an FCV could be distinctive with out being bizarre.”
The interior shares most of the design themes of the Kona Electrical. Chief amongst them, the bridge-type middle console with a PRND button array and the digital parking brake. System storage and charging by way of USB, 12-volt and Qi wi-fi reside on the decrease degree.
A big, sweeping floor connects the instrument cluster and infotainment 7-inch touchscreen, a futuristic contact. The supplies really feel of a better high quality and a bit extra luxurious than these of the Kona EV. The seats make the most of a supple upholstery stated to be bamboo thread-based mostly bio material. The auxiliary controls on the middle console are completed in a modern silver like a Nineteen Eighties hello-fi deck. Go for the highest Restricted trim and also you get ventilated entrance seats, a large, roof-spanning sunroof and even a self-parking perform that works in each parallel and perpendicular situations.
If the Kona Electrical’s suspension is engineered for a sprightly, even considerably sporty really feel, the Nexo is tuned for luxurious. Isolation from the tarmac is the secret, with street and wind noise ranges that beat out these of the Mirai with ease. Nevertheless, with that comes a gentle suspension that rolls noticeably in turns. In more durable cornering that the Kona EV would take with ease, the Nexo understeers, its tires pushing and groaning all the best way.
A part of that has to with its three,900- to four,000-pound curb weight (actual specs weren’t but out there), however maybe extra egregious is the artificial-feeling steering that gives as a lot suggestions as a “Pole Place” arcade recreation circa 1982. What’s weirder, the steering wheel has a thicker part on the backside the place a flat phase can be on a sports activities car. That makes the already uncommunicative steering much more tiresome to deal with. Additionally, a a lot-delayed throttle response inhibits what could possibly be a zippy 161 horsepower and a hefty 291 lb-ft of on the spot torque, including to the substitute driving really feel.
We do not think most individuals will probably be shopping for or leasing the Nexo for spirited driving, although. Curiosity in know-how and severing our dependence on fossil fuels probably would be the main concern. As such, the Nexo comes with a slew of tech-based mostly driving aids. Hyundai’s first blind-spot monitor tasks a reside digital camera picture of the passenger-aspect lane on the show, just like Honda’s LaneWatch. A fowl’s-eye view á la Infiniti’s Round View Monitor helps with parking do you have to select to do it your self (it may be quicker than the auto-park). Then there are alerts we have come to anticipate on trendy automobiles — lane following, ahead collision, rear cross-visitors, blind-spot avoidance and excessive-beam assists.
The Nexo’s all-new fuel cell system shops hydrogen in three smaller tanks somewhat than the Tucson’s two bigger ones. The smaller tanks permit for greater compression and larger density. That interprets to forty one.four gallons and 245 kilos of the stuff at 10,000 psi. Hyundai says the Nexo Blue achieves an mpg-e of sixty five metropolis and fifty eight freeway, whereas the Restricted returns fifty nine and fifty four, respectively.
In fact, with America’s restricted hydrogen infrastructure, the Nexo shall be bought solely in choose areas of the nation, with Southern California and the San Francisco area being the first markets. At present, there are solely 35 hydrogen stations within the state, however 5 extra are scheduled to return on-line by the top of the yr. By 2020, there must be fifty nine. That is in all probability not sufficient to make FCVs a critical proposition for many consumers, however Hyundai’s bigger roadmap is sensible. This is hoping the remainder of the business can catch up.
Till then, we hope Hyundai continues to refine the driving dynamics of the Nexo. With the Kona Electrical, Hyundai has proved it may well make a compelling zero-emissions crossover. We might wish to see that translate to an FCV so consumers’ experiences with the know-how aren’t hampered by the indifferent driving expertise.
– 2019 Hyundai Nexo First Drive Review –
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