As we prepared to take out the display model Mirai, it reminded us yet again why it's different: We started the car inside the dealership. Inside. A few hairstyles may frizz from the humidity, but there’s no risk of asphyxiation from the water exhaust.
Driving the Mirai was similar to driving the Prius, but even quieter, because there’s no gas motor of any kind. The car is very heavy—its curb weight is 4,078 pounds—but at street speeds, the car runs smoothly and feels peppy. The Mirai emits a slightly annoying whine that unfortunately gets a little louder when you accelerate. Its 0-60 time is a modest nine seconds, but I felt reasonably capable when merging and changing lanes on the freeway. The regenerative brakes feel a little doughy when you press them, but not in an alarming way. I’d call this car pleasant, rather than powerful, but power is obviously not the Mirai’s priority.
Now that the first Mirai is on the road, it's a race to see whether additional stations can go up fast enough to give the second, third, and further Mirais room to spread out. Glenn Rambach's looking forward to December, when a new hydrogen station scheduled to open in Truckee will let him take the Mirai to the ski slopes. You can evangelize this car only as far as you can drive it—literally—and everyone involved knows that. All they can do is take it one station at a time.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.