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Nearly five years after the Toyota Mirai made its debut, the seminal hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) is getting a second generation. And just like Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries, the previously interesting-looking – if rather gawky – sedan has been given a show-stopping makeover.
Set to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Mirai Concept is a thinly-veiled preview of the new model, and whereas the original had a Prius-inspired oddball design with gaping air intakes, this one has grown into a proper luxury sedan with elegant proportions and a much more grown-up look.
Built on the same premium rear-wheel drive variant of the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) as the latest Crown, the next Mirai has been enlarged significantly to fit its new underpinnings. Measuring 4,975 mm long, 1,885 mm wide and 1,470 mm tall – with a 2,920 mm wheelbase – the car is 85 mm longer, 70 mm wider and 65 mm lower than before, and the wheelbase has grown a whopping 140 mm.
The styling has also been made calmer, dispensing with the current car’s wild surfacing in favour of simpler, more sophisticated curves. As is typical for a Toyota, the front end is dominated by a massive trapezoidal grille, but there are no huge inlets on either side, with the slim dual-tier headlights being the only other adornment. The bonnet is also much longer than it was before, giving the car a sleeker appearance.
Along the side, the roofline and six-window glasshouse is lower and sweeps elegantly towards the back, while the rounded shoulders lead to a rear end that is rather Supra-like, featuring full-width tail lights that frame the number plate recess and large rear diffuser. Finishing off the look are large 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels and the brighter, deeper Force Blue Multiple Layers paint.
The wholesale revamp continues inside, with a more Lexus-esque approach to the cabin design. The slimmer horizontal dashboard sweeps towards the driver and is dominated by a large display panel, equipped with a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and a digital instrument display. The repackaged fuel cell layout afforded by the TNGA platform allows for the fitment of five seats – one more than the first Mirai.
No technical details have been released just yet, but Toyota promises a 30% increase in driving range over the outgoing model thanks to increased hydrogen storage, which would put the figure somewhere around the 650 km mark. Also expect a sizeable increase in performance to suit the larger, more imposing appearance, with the company claiming smoother, more linear acceleration and a greater sense of power at all speeds.
The TNGA platform, designed from the start with hydrogen powertrains in mind, is also said to give the Mirai a greater degree of rigidity. Together with the lower centre of gravity, Toyota says this will give the car greater agility and responsiveness, contributing to “nimble, rewarding handling.”
“We have worked to make a car that customers will want to drive all the time, a car that has an emotional and attractive design and the kind of dynamic and responsive performance that can bring a smile to the driver’s face,” said the Mirai’s chief engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka. “I want customers to say ‘I chose the Mirai because I simply wanted this car, and it just happens to be an FCEV.’” Looks like he’s succeeded.