25 Jan 19

First Drive Hyundai Nexo: hydrogen is finally cool

Finally, a fuel cell vehicle takes the shape of a snazzy crossover. Fleet Europe was able to briefly take the wheel of Hyundai’s all new Nexo at the Brussels Motor Show.

Street cred

Hyundai’s design team has really outdone itself. Some might think ‘Infiniti’ or ‘Lexus’ when they see the front, but it is beyond doubt that this Nexo is an eyecatcher. That does not mean that function follows form: the packaging is exemplary, meaning you have a decent boot and lots of interior space. The materials look and feel luxurious and high-tech, especially in the cockpit.  We were impressed by the refinement of it all.

The Nexo is jampacked with clever technology – such as rearward looking side cameras that send their images to the instrument cluster when you operate the indicator stalk. We also tried the smart cruise control on the motorway, which works fine and is assisted by the active lane keeping system. Level 3 autonomous driving seems closer than ever. If anything, the Nexo is a cruiser: it rides very comfortably and smoothly. Performance-seekers should look elsewhere.

Fleet cred

The pressure tanks of this Nexo can carry about 6 kg of hydrogen, which is enough to drive some 600 km. the Nexo feels just like an electric car - which it basically is, but one that creates electricity on the go - but only needs five to ten minutes to fill up. More good news: it cleans the air while you drive by filtering 99.9% of all particulate matter. I wonder how many Nexos it would take to compensate for a Euro 4 diesel.

Talking about filling up: on the continent, only Germany is truly investing in H2 infrastructure. From less than 50 today, there should be 100 stations by the end of 2019. That is a start, but not enough to make life with a fuel cell carefree. One asks oneself why Hyundai and Toyota don’t offer bigger tanks. 600 km is doable, unless you travel to less H2-civilised territories – like Belgium (2 stations), the Netherlands (4), France (16), Italy (3) and Spain (6).

The bottom line

If you have a filling station nearby and a big budget, this Nexo could be a great alternative to the hybrid or electric crossovers from premium competitors. Contrary to the latter, the emphasis is much more on comfort and serenity than on performance.  


Snazzy design, clever packaging
Roomy interior, comfortable and quiet drive
Premium equipment


Lack of filling infrastructure
Hydrogen is more expensive than electricity (€10 per kg)
Why not a 8- or even 10-kg tank?

Power output: 120 kW
Torque: 395 Nm
CO2 emissions: 0 g/km
Fuel consumption: 0.84 kg H2/100 km (correlated NEDC)
Price: €58,000 excluding VAT (Germany)
Competitors: Toyota Mirai


Authored by: Dieter Quartier