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Honda FCX Clarity

Can fuel cell family hatch live up to green promise?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

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While questions over eco-friendly hydrogen extraction remain, this car impresses. Capable of returning the equivalent of 81mpg, it is quiet, refined and practical. Cabin quality is first-rate, and the ride and handling are acceptable, too. However, as a result of each example’s high production cost, it’s unlikely to be made widely available any time soon.

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The outlook for Honda has never been so clear. This is the firm’s hydrogen-powered FCX Clarity, which it is backing to lead the world into a fuel cell future.

As part of that effort, the FCX Clarity gets its European launch this week. Being previewed in Germany, the clock is ticking on a UK launch, too. We got behind the wheel to find out what a lucky few have to look forward to.

It’s soon obvious that there are some major hurdles to overcome – not least the fact that extracting hydrogen in a sustainable way remains a major challenge. Honda’s short-term solution is to provide drivers with their own ‘home energy station’ – a device that turns gas from the mains supply into hydrogen for your car.

There are no such question marks over the way the model drives, though. With a fuel cell-powered electric motor turning the front wheels, the Clarity feels remarkably similar to any other hatch on the move.

Progress is smooth, and apart from a gentle whine as you get up to speed, the cabin is eerily silent.

The Clarity is no slouch, either: as with any electric car there’s plenty of torque, which shoots it from 0-60mph in 10.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 101mph.

Weighing in at 1,625kg, the Clarity is substantially heavier than eco-rivals such as Toyota’s Prius and Honda’s own Insight, and that’s sometimes noticeable in the corners. But the FCX more than makes up for it with a useful range of 270 miles, and its maker says the energy-equivalent fuel consumption works out at around 81mpg.

While questions over eco-friendly hydrogen extraction remain, this car impresses. Capable of returning the equivalent of 81mpg, it is quiet, refined and practical. Cabin quality is first-rate, and the ride and handling are acceptable, too.

However, as a result of each example’s high production cost, it’s unlikely to be made widely available any time soon.

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