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First Drive: Hyundai Nexo

Nexo does more than just pick up where the ix35 fuel cell left off, explains Martyn Collins.

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SECTOR Large SUV   PRICE TBC   RANGE 500 miles (est)   CO2 0g/km   FUEL Hydrogen

Hyundai took the lead in hydrogen technology when it launched the ix35 Fuel Cell back in 2015, but the pioneer wasn’t without its compromises. The ix35 was a generation behind its successor, the Tucson, it felt dated and was only available in left-hand drive.

Both are cured with its replacement, the Nexo, which also benefits from improved fuel cell technology offering an estimated range of 500 miles – 134 more than the old car. We had a brief, very early drive at the company’s Mabuk Advanced Powertrain Research Institute, to get an impression of how it performs.

It’s certainly distinctive; a mixture of the latest Kona at the front and last ix35 at the back, and featuring flush door handles on the side that pop out when they sense your hands. Inside, the dashboard features a pair of large displays showing driver information and infotainment functions, with a floating centre console and two-spoke steering wheel. The interior trim feels modern and, while this was a prototype, seemed solid too. Front and rear legroom is competitive, and there’s a large, flat load area in the back – as you might expect in a Q5-sized SUV.

The Nexo drives much like an electric car. Drive is engaged with a push-button, bringing it quietly to life, the motor produces 181bhp and there are impressive levels of torque available from the moment you press the throttle, giving keen performance off the mark. Our late prototype had precise steering, felt well-damped and, in corners, body roll was kept under control.

Which bodes well; modern styling, keen performance, SUV practicality and the availability of right-hand drive should broaden the Nexo’s appeal compared to its predecessor. We look forward to a longer drive on UK roads to find out more.

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Martyn Collins

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