Skip advert
Advertisement

New Honda Clarity FCV 2017 review

The hydrogen-powered Honda Clarity has already wowed us, but is it a hit on British roads?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Find your Honda Clarity FCV
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Hassle-free way to a brand new car
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Fuel-cell vehicles aren’t for everyone – yet – but the Clarity is further proof of how far manufacturers have come in squeezing the tech into regular cars. Honda’s offering is a spacious family car that’s also a relaxing cruiser. True, the boot space is compromised, but a bigger problem is that the main flaw in the package – the refuelling infrastructure – isn’t something that Honda can do much about.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We were pretty impressed when we tried the Honda Clarity fuel-cell car in Denmark back in the spring. Now the first car has landed on UK shores – one of a handful of examples that will end up on the driveways of leasing customers.

‘Customers’ is a bit strong, because unlike the fuel-cell Toyota Mirai, technically this car isn’t on sale in the UK at all. We won’t get a Clarity until the successor to this car arrives – in around 2022.

• Best low emissions green cars

The Clarity’s fuel-cell stack runs off hydrogen, mixing the fuel with oxygen from the air to produce electricity that fills the batteries powering the front wheels. Water is the only emission as the car moves along.

The advantage of this, of course, is you can have emissions-free motoring without having to wait for charging. The 700-bar tank is easy to fill – about as simple as your regular visit to the petrol or diesel pump, in fact.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

This convenience is theoretical, though, because there are still only about a dozen hydrogen fuelling points in the UK. So you’ll end up watching the predicted fuel range carefully; Honda claims 403 miles, but in truth it’s less than 300 in real-world use.

Advertisement - Article continues below

On UK roads, the Clarity drives like many other electric vehicles; the initial power delivery from the 174bhp/300Nm motor is strong and smooth, and while there’s a little bit of whine, it’s quickly drowned out by wind noise from around the mirrors.

The Clarity isn’t particularly agile or involving, but the suspension does a good enough job of dialling out British road imperfections. Also impressive is the brake pedal modulation, given how many EVs find it hard to manage the transition between stopping power and energy recuperation.

The rest of the package is conventional enough; the Clarity is a big five-seater whose looks are distinctive enough to let people know that you’ve thought long and hard about the environment when choosing your powertrain. The boot will confirm this, because it’s badly compromised by the hydrogen tank, and has a big step in its floor that loose items are all but certain to slide off.

The cabin, meanwhile, is nicely finished, with a mix of high-quality materials, including a synthetic suede that gives a strip of luxury across the centre of the facia. It’s a sign, if anything, of how this car has been produced – not to make a profit, but rather to showcase Honda’s technology progress, and help gain further acceptance for fuel-cell vehicles.

Click on the gallery above to see more of the Honda Clarity...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

No more EV! New BMW X3 gets petrol, diesel and PHEV power only
BMW X3 - front
News

No more EV! New BMW X3 gets petrol, diesel and PHEV power only

The all-new premium BMW X3 SUV has a sharp new look and cutting-edge tech, but no iX3 EV this time around
18 Jun 2024
New Citroen C3 Aircross gets seven-seats to fight Dacia Jogger, plus £25k pure-electric version
Citroen C3 Aircross - front reveal
News

New Citroen C3 Aircross gets seven-seats to fight Dacia Jogger, plus £25k pure-electric version

Citroen has somehow managed to cram seven seats into its new compact SUV, although the pure-electric e-C3 Aircross is only available with five
19 Jun 2024
Ford Explorer review
Ford Explorer 2024 - front
In-depth reviews

Ford Explorer review

Ford’s long-awaited electric SUV drives well, has some neat touches and impresses for efficiency
18 Jun 2024