2016 Toyota Mirai: Performance Tested - Running on Fumes
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 5, 2016
The hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain in our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai separates it from every other vehicle in our fleet. We have a 2016 Chevrolet Volt, a 2016 Tesla Model X and a 2016 Toyota Prius, but nothing on the market directly compares to the Mirai.
This unusual powertrain doesn't mean it has a driving character that's totally out of whack with what you expect in a modern car. In fact, it behaves pretty much like a pure EV. Read ahead to see if it performs just like one.
Vehicle: 2016 Toyota Mirai
Driver: Jonathan Elfalan
Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Direct-drive
Engine Type: Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Hybrid EV
Electric Motor Horsepower: 151
Electric Motor Torque: 247 lb-ft
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson strut front suspension with stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers
Suspension Type (rear):double wishbone rear suspension with coil springs, trailing arms, stabilizer bar and hydraulic shock absorbers
Tire Size (front): 215/55R17
Tire Size (rear): 215/55R17
Tire Brand: Michelin
Tire Model: Primacy MXV4
Tire Type: Low-rolling resistance all-season
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 4,060
0-30 (sec): 3.2 (w/ TC on 3.2)
0-45 (sec): 5.6 (w/ TC on 5.6)
0-60 (sec): 9.1 (w/ TC on 9.1)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 8.8 (w/ TC on 8.8)
0-75 (sec): 14.3 (w/ TC on 14.1)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 16.8 @ 80.6 (w/ TC on 16.8 @ 81.0)
30-0 (ft): 31
60-0 (ft): 126
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.75 (w/ ESC on 0.75)
The Mirai shows excellent response off the line, thanks to instantaneous torque from the electric motor. There is no real perceivable difference between Eco and Power modes when accelerating at full throttle. In fact, the runs get continually slower, meaning the initial "key up" run was quickest. The Mirai is completely silent until you step on the accelerator. This is followed by a series of high-pitched tones and whines as the systems switch on to produce electricity and the motor winds up. Acceleration torque feels most prominent from 0 mph to around 50 mph, and then levels off noticeably right after that. Turning traction control off has no effect on the launch, as there's no wheelspin to be had. Also, if you overlap the brake and throttle pedal applications in an attempt to power brake in the launch, you'll receive a warning on the dash that says you've overlapped them (a precaution prompted by the previous "unintended acceleration" debacle).
There's a little bit of instability at the initial brake actuation. The brake pedal is pretty soft, a little squishy, but the travel is short and it's easy to reach maximum braking force. There is a moderate amount of ABS noise and tire squeal that is more audible since the car is so quiet, but you don't feel any of the brake pulses is through the pedal, which is a little unnatural feeling. There is also a surprisingly small amount of nosedive. Almost zero, actually. But there is some noticeable brake odor and a max increase in stopping distance of five feet after six stops.
Although the Mirai is heavy and possesses low levels of tire grip, with the traction/stability control systems turned off the car will allow for some surprisingly aggressive inputs. It isn't quick or sporty but it is predictable and relatively composed in its handling, which is something we didn't expect. With the system turned on, if you drive a clean steady line around the skidpad all you'll hear is a clicking noise by the front wheels from what we believe to be the brakes being actuated. If you push past this point slightly, the front inside wheel brakes will activate to dial out some of the understeer. Go further and system will grab significantly more brake, and jerk you into line. The steering has a pretty soft on-center feel but is direct otherwise. However, road feel is minimal to nonexistent.
Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 2,780 miles