Toyota Mirai review

Category: Electric car

The most driveable hydrogen fuel cell car we've tested, but it's expensive and less practical than other electric and hybrid options

Toyota Mirai 2021 front left tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 front left tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 rear right tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior dashboard
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior infotainment
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 right tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 headlight detail
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 filling pump detail
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior front seats
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior detail
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior driver display
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 front left tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 rear right tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior dashboard
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior rear seats
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior infotainment
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 right tracking
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 headlight detail
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 filling pump detail
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior front seats
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior detail
  • Toyota Mirai 2021 interior driver display


What Car? says...

"Hello, and welcome to the future... the Toyota Mirai," as Peter Snow might say on Tomorrow's World (although here you’ll have to settle for us doing it instead). 

It really is like something from the future, too. You see, while you can get plenty of zero tailpipe emissions cars that use electric motors to drive the wheels – the Tesla Model 3, for example – the Mirai is from a rarer class altogether: it's a fuel cell vehicle.

So how is that different? Well, the power to drive its motor comes from a chemical reaction between the supply of hydrogen fuel stored in a tank at the back (or, in the case of the Mirai, three tanks) and oxygen from the air.

Once you've found somewhere to fill up, refuelling takes a matter of minutes, so there's none of the waiting around for it charge up you get with an electric car (which can take the best part of an hour, even with a rapid charger). The Mirai's large fuel storage capacity mean it can travel further between top-ups than almost every electric car on sale.

It's based on a shortened version of the Lexus LS platform, making this current car a lot sleeker than its rather frumpy predecessor. Combined with its rear-wheel drive set-up, that should give it greater dynamism than its lone fuel-cell car rival, the Hyundai Nexo.

To find out whether the Toyota Mirai might have a place in your future, read on through this in-depth review. We'll tell you about its performance, comfort, running costs and more, and compare it with possible alternatives, including the Tesla Model 3 and the BMW 5 Series, which is available as a plug-in hybrid.

Remember, when you are ready to buy a new car – regardless of the make, model and whether it's powered by petrol, diesel, electric or even hydrogen – you can save thousands of pounds by finding the best prices by going to our free What Car? New Car Buying service, where you'll find some Toyota Mirai Deals.


As far as hydrogen fuel cell cars go, this is the nicest driving one we’ve tested so far, and its lower list price compared with a Hyundai Nexo goes a long way to making it a viable option. However, it's not as practical as most of its luxury cars rivals, even the plug-in BMW 5 Series, and a limited hydrogen refuelling network will hamper the usability of the Mirai for some, no matter how normal it feels to drive.

  • Impressive handling
  • Lots of equipment as standard
  • Very quiet
  • Lack of space for rear passengers
  • Smaller boot than most family cars
  • Hydrogen network might not work for all

Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

There’s no getting around the fact that, with a 0-62mph time of 9.0secs, the Toyota Mirai isn’t the quickest luxury car around. In fact, the 178bhp produced by its electric motor can’t even match the performance of a base 2.0-litre diesel version of the BMW 5 Series. For the price of the Mirai, there are an awful lot of faster alternatives, including the Tesla Model 3.

It's not a complete disaster, though, because the Mirai has a 1kWh battery pack to provide a boost of power to the electric motor. There’s no delay in acceleration when you want to zip into a gap on a roundabout, plus there’s enough power to overtake slower traffic on country roads.

Toyota Mirai image
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At low speeds around town, you're aware of the road surface, but not to the extent that it jostles you in your seat as per a Model 3. When you build up the pace outside the city limits, the Mirai is free of unpleasant floating sensations as you pass over undulations in the road, quickly settling back to a normal ride height without any nasty shimmying. 

The handling is a pleasant surprise – you might expect it to be a complete canal barge considering it has similar exterior dimensions to one, but it has an agility that’s not far off that of a 5 Series.

Let’s start with the steering. It's perfectly light at low speeds, making shuffling it into a parking space a breeze, yet has a hefty precision on faster roads so that once you’ve got past some initial vagueness just off centre you can aim the nose into a corner with confidence. 

Body lean is greater than you’d find with a 5 Series, but never to an alarming degree. Besides, grip levels are high enough that you’ll feel comfortable carrying speed through a bend (a fine thing considering the performance), although you can get the rear end to pivot around the front slightly in slower, tighter turns if you plant your foot on the accelerator after the front wheels have bitten into the apex. That brings a degree of playfulness to the Mirai that’s utterly absent from the other hydrogen car available, the Hyundai Nexo.

Refinement is sometimes harder for alternative fuel vehicles to perfect because there isn’t any engine noise to mask unwanted sounds, but the Mirai is one of the best, to the extent that you’ll hear the audible warning for pedestrians over the whirr of the air-con fan at low speeds.

You won’t find any jerky gear changes because the Mirai only has one forward gear, and there are no vibrations through the steering wheel or pedals because there’s no engine. What you will hear on the ‘engine’ side of things is a whooshing sound from the electric motor under hard acceleration. 

There's a little bit of wind noise from the door mirrors at motorway speeds, but the same can be said of the 5 Series. There’s also a bit of patter over pockmarked surfaces and a thunk from the rear suspension over nastier potholes, but that could have been exacerbated by the 20in wheels of our test car. We’ll let you know if the 19in wheels you get lower down the range are better when we've had chance to try them.

Toyota Mirai 2021 rear right tracking


The interior layout, fit and finish

Design and Design Plus Toyota Mirai models have part-electric controls for the driver’s seat, while the top-spec Design Premium gets full electric adjustment including lumbar support. There’s a high-set centre console and good-sized armrests either side, making you feel sunk into the car and comfortable over a long distance. The steering wheel has plenty of adjustment to allow for an excellent driving position no matter what size you are. 

An 8.0in digital instrument cluster is standard, and while it displays plenty of information, it's not as attractive, configurable or easy to use at a glance as the larger virtual cockpit display you’ll find on an Audi A6. Design Premium Mirais have a huge 10.1in head-up display, though, which projects data on to the windscreen in your line of sight.

Not everything’s digital, fortunately. You still get physical buttons to control the air-con and other functions, although it would be better with a dial like the one in the BMW 5 Series so you don't have to repeatedly press the up or down button to get the desired temperature. Still, it’s better than having to control everything through a distracting central touchscreen, as you do in the Tesla Model 3.

Shorter drivers will need to rely on the standard front and rear parking sensors because forward visibility is hampered by the high dashboard that obscures the bonnet line from view. Visibility is also affected by side windows that aren’t very deep, the relatively small and shallow back window and the thick rear pillars, although the big door mirrors help a bit.

A reversing camera comes as standard, but if the picture quality from the wider panoramic view display (available with mid-range Design Plus) and the digital rear-view mirror (Design Premium) are anything to go by, the image it shows won’t be the sharpest. A self-parking system is available if you go for the most expensive trim.

Night driving will be aided by LED headlights with an automatic high beam function that puts the main beam on for you if there’s nothing ahead to dazzle. The headlights you get with Design Premium are upgraded further and include an adaptive high beam assist, although our daytime drive didn’t allow us to test it out. We’ll find out if they’re any good in due course.

All versions of the Mirai have a 12.3in landscape-orientated touchscreen infotainment system with built-in sat-nav. Compared with the iDrive system found in the 5 Series, the infotainment system in the Mirai has a much less intuitive menu layout and occasionally laggy software.

It does have a particularly useful feature over the competition, though – you can throw certain functions across the screen towards your front seat passenger for them to deal with, just like you can with a Honda E. Thankfully, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring is provided to bypass all that if you don’t have an assistant to assist you.

A 14-speaker JBL audio system is standard across the range and provides decent quality sound, helped no doubt by the low levels of ambient noise. It doesn’t quite have the punch of the equivalent Harman Kardon system used in a 5 Series, though.

There’s a uniform quality to the interior of the Mirai, meaning you won’t find a wonky bit of trim anywhere, which can’t be said of the Model 3 and some other rivals.

There are soft-touch finishes everywhere you touch regularly, although the stuff across the dash is similar to the vinyl posing as leather you’ll find on a Jaguar XF. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t have the material richness of the 5 Series, and you certainly wouldn’t catch BMW using cheap-feeling hard plastic for the centre of the steering wheel, as you find in the Mirai (a strange decision given its prominent position).

Toyota Mirai 2021 interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

The tallest of adults will be happy with the head, leg and shoulder room in the front of a Toyota Mirai, even with the panoramic roof fitted to the Design Premium model.

A wide central armrest hides an equally broad cubby beneath, although it isn’t as deep as you’d think because one of the three hydrogen tanks is below it. You don’t get many drinks storage areas because there are no bottle holders in the front doors, just two cup holders in the centre console.

There's a wireless phone-charging pad behind the gear selector with a grippy surface to keep your phone in check. We bring this up because, while it seems like an ideal place for your device, it’s in a prime location to reflect sunlight straight off the screen into your eyes on a bright day.

While the driving experience doesn’t remind you of the car's novel fuel cell system, the lack of space in the back when compared with key rivals certainly will. There’s plenty of hydrogen gubbins below the rear bench (that's where the second hydrogen tank goes, running across the car) so the floor is noticeably higher than you’ll find in a BMW 5 Series.

You can just about get your toes below the seat in front of you, but your knees will be bent at an awkward angle – not ideal for comfort on a long drive. What’s more, there's not enough head room for anyone approaching six feet tall, plus that wide central tunnel would be difficult to straddle for the poor soul relegated to the middle position.

Storage isn’t very good because you don’t have any door pockets, and the only cupholders are two small ones that come out of the central armrest. There’s also a shallow cubby in the armrest and a map pocket on the back of each front seat.

Your front-seat passenger gets basic seat controls with no adjustable lumbar support or even head-rest height adjustment. The BMW 5 Series, in contrast, provides the same level of adjustment as the driver gets, so it’s a bit of a shame the Mirai doesn’t, especially considering the price.

You don’t get split-folding rear seats, and while it’s true that some of the Mirai’s rivals relegate that feature to the options list, not being able to increase its load carrying capacity is a real problem because the boot space is much less than it is in smaller family car. That's due to the third hydrogen tank and main 12v battery taking up valuable space below the floor and eliminating any extra storage below the carpet.

Our preferred plug-in hybrid version of the 5 Series loses space to its battery pack too, but it still has a greater load area to pack things into. The storage space in the Mirai tapers inwards due to its wheel-arch intrusions, and the boot opening is small (as it is on the Tesla Model 3), making it difficult to load taller items. It could be very awkward to get a set of golf clubs, for example, in the back.

Toyota Mirai 2021 interior rear seats

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

The Toyota Mirai certainly isn’t an inexpensive luxury car, but it is the least expensive hydrogen-powered car you can buy today, comfortably undercutting the Hyundai Nexo by an amount that could get you a new VW Golf. You can buy our preferred version of the Tesla Model 3 for less than the entry-level Mirai, but our favoured plug-in hybrid BMW 5 Series does have a higher list price.

Personal leasing quotes for the Mirai are not available at the time of writing, and neither were predicted resale values (part of the calculation for PCP finance), but our New Car Buying service pages can help you find the best current deals. Company car tax costs should be low due to the Mirai emitting no CO2 emissions from its tailpipe (only water). 

There are a couple of downsides to a hydrogen car. Firstly, is that it’ll cost about the same to fill up as a regular petrol or diesel vehicle, which means an electric car will be considerably cheaper to run on a daily basis. Secondly, there aren't as many hydrogen filling stations as a traditionally powered car, or even an electric one these days, so the Mirai might not be a practical solution unless you live in the south of England close to London.

The Mirai is not included in the latest What Car? Reliability Survey data, but Toyota as a brand comes out well, managing third place out of 31 car manufacturers. Toyota provides one of the better warranties in the business with five years of cover, or up to 100,000 miles.

Euro NCAP has yet to test the Mirai for safety, but being a Toyota, it has plenty of standard safety technology provided as standard to help keep you from having an accident in the first place. 

Automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning and assistance, rear cross-traffic alert and traffic sign recognition are all available on the entry-level Design model, with blind-spot monitoring and an automatic braking function to the rear cross-traffic alert feature added to the Design Plus version.

Aside from what we mention in other sections, the entry-level Design Mirai has 19in alloys, dual-zone climate control, automatic lights and wipers, heated front seats, a DAB radio and power-folding door mirrors. It has enough kit to make it our preferred choice and keeps the price to below that of our favourite 5 Series.

Mid-range Design Plus has the extra safety tech as well as synthetic leather seat trim, while Design Premium has 20in wheels, three-zone climate control, cooled seats in the front along with heated and cooled rear seats.

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Toyota Mirai 2021 interior infotainment