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2019 Hyundai Nexo First Drive – The Future Is Beige

2019 Hyundai Nexo First Drive – The Future Is Beige

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Hyundai’s hydrogen-powered Nexo is so ludicrously specialised that it’s completely unimaginable to make a case for it outdoors of California. The truth is, even that is perhaps overstating its usefulness — permit me to attempt once more. The Nexo Gasoline Cell works close to Los Angeles or San Francisco and completely nowhere else in North America. And, whereas that’s primarily resulting from its dependency on hydrogen fueling stations, which exist virtually solely in two comparatively small corners of the Golden State, it’s not the one purpose.

It is advisable to be a sure sort of individual to need to drive the Nexo. Somebody who likes making a press release, is considering inexperienced tech, and possesses completely zero curiosity in spirited bouts of driving. It’s sluggish, appliance-like, and presents nothing to the standard fanatic crowd, save for some fascinating styling. Nevertheless, if you’d like one thing eye-catching that runs on various power and routinely spend a big portion of your day in horrible LA visitors, it could possibly be the fitting software for the job. 

(Full disclosure: Hyundai flew me out to the California coast to check the Nexo and extremely pleasant Kona EV, paying for my meals and lodging for the period. They have been additionally, as all the time, exceptionally sort to me. Sadly, that will be unable to save lots of the automotive from the tough criticisms I’m about to throw its method.)

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As first impressions go, the Nexo Gasoline Cell is beautiful. It appears like a premium merchandise in individual, with numerous little exterior touches that make you smirk. Mine was rose gold, which helped garner seems from Hollywood guests and locals alike. However it is available in an array of impartial and less-ostentatious metallic hues for those who don’t need to fake your car is on mortgage from a rap video.

Nevertheless, that might be a mistake, because the Nexo is greatest skilled at low speeds whereas bumping your favourite tunes. The most important contributing elements to this are its top-tier audio system and lackluster efficiency. Its 95 kW gasoline cell and 40 kW battery work in tandem to energy an electrical motor that makes 161 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque by way of a direct-drive gearbox. Whereas that sounds enough, Hyundai claims the Nexo weighs in slightly below two tons — leading to a Zero-to-60 time that leaves one thing to be desired.

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Whereas heavy LA visitors severely impacted the variety of occasions I might check the producer’s estimate of 9.5 seconds to 60 mph, I’ll comfortably say the Nexo is about as thrilling to drive as a 2001 Chrysler City & Nation. That’s okay, as a result of I don’t assume it was ever Hyundai’s intent to show its new hydrogen mannequin right into a tire-shredding efficiency machine. As an alternative, the company objective seems to be besting the stats of the previous Tucson FCEV — which the corporate has completed.

Nevertheless, it must be stated that the front-drive Nexo completely falls aside throughout spirited driving. Exhausting corning induces a degree of wheel hop I’ve not encountered in a while. However even reasonably sharp turns trigger the car’s digital nanny’s to place in some additional time because the automotive itself swings extensive. It’s not likely a problem throughout regular commuting, when the car isn’t being requested to do a lot and is thus properly behaved, however I wouldn’t advise anybody to select up the Nexo in the event that they’re keen on exploring its outer limits. You’re simply going to really feel such as you’re actively destroying it.

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Hold it cruising and also you’ll be happier, however maybe not overjoyed. Whereas driving in visitors, the Nexo’s ahead and rear collision warnings would chime endlessly — even when there wasn’t one other car in my speedy space. As a consequence of my restricted time with the mannequin, I did not uncover the menu choice that shut this down, however did uncover that turning the car off whereas stopped in visitors additionally did the trick. Sadly, that didn’t have an effect on how damaged the Nexo felt in its default setting, which many purchasers are unlikely to vary. Freeway Driving Help and Lane Following Help by Hyundai additionally did not impress, throwing me from one aspect of the road to the opposite slightly extra typically than Tesla’s Autopilot. Whereas not deal breakers, particularly in case you like driving your self, it made the automotive’s most fascinating options really feel rushed and type of chintzy.

Fortuitously, there’s plenty of different commonplace tech to maintain you distracted from these shortcomings. Most parts you’ll be required to interface with on the common are intuitive and look like of superior high quality. Nevertheless, these aren’t good, both. The floating middle console gives some fascinating storage choices and an array of bodily buttons, which I appreciated, nevertheless it additionally didn’t really feel fairly as good as the remainder of the Nexo’s otherwise-superb inside.

Technically a flagship mannequin for the model, the Nexo is simply barely bigger than the present Tucson at 183.9 inches in size and is dwarfed by the Santa Fe. Inside area is serviceable and feels very open with 30 cubic ft of cargo area behind the the second row — which may accommodate adults with out a lot hassle or be folded. The seats are agency however not uncomfortable and are helped by a comparatively mushy experience. Save for the incessant security warning chime that you simply completely need to disable to take care of sanity, the Nexo rides clean and almost silently with only a trace of tire drone and wind noise at freeway speeds. Nevertheless, at low speeds, it emits an nice, angelic tone to alert unaware pedestrians — very similar to the “lesser” Kona EV, which I discovered to be genuinely enjoyable from behind the wheel.

Vary is estimated by the producer to be a powerful 370 miles, because of the Nexo’s three 10,000-psi hydrogen tanks. Nevertheless, Hyundai and Kia lately issued up to date vary estimates for his or her respective Kona and Niro electrical crossovers, so the that quantity might be equally downgraded quickly. In fact, this gained’t assist or hinder your getting out of California within the Nexo, since its hydrogen fueling infrastructure successfully ends when you’ve ventured a couple of miles past its largest coastal cities. That’s hardly the fault of the automotive, however it does restrict its general usefulness.

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And that’s the actual challenge. Even when I beloved the Nexo, I wouldn’t be capable of advocate it or some other hydrogen-powered vehicle as a consequence of their inherent geographical limitations. Although there might but be a small marketplace for the mannequin inside California.

The crossover presents fairly a little bit of tech and sufficient off-kilter styling to telegraph its modernity to everybody round you. It has some neat aerodynamic tips up its sleeve, too, together with automated door handles that develop into flush with the door when not in use. However there are additionally issues like a two-spoke steering wheel, twin 12.Three-inch shows, fancy distant parking (which doesn’t require you to be within the automotive), superior navigation, and a push-button transmission to assist it actually shout, “I’m one thing new and really totally different.” Hyundai even bolstered the gasoline cell’s cold-weather efficiency, with the power to start out in circumstances as chilly as minus 22 levels Fahrenheit. Odd, contemplating they’re solely promoting it in California, however it stays a technological achievement of some observe.

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And technological achievements are doubtless what is going to reel in all of its potential consumers. Whereas the Hyundai Nexo shouldn’t be quick or notably enjoyable to drive, it’s distinctive sufficient to warrant some consideration from technophiles. For me, it’s a automotive I wouldn’t thoughts being trapped inside in heavy metropolis visitors (as a result of that’s the place it shines) however not one thing I might ever contemplate recommending to most auto fanatics or the typical Joseph/Josephine.

Beginning at an estimated $55,000 and out there within the latter half of 2019, the Nexo is available in at a worth level that places it up towards a BMW X4 or Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e with all-wheel drive. However these automobiles burn nonetheless burn smelly gasoline, not the magic fuel of the longer term we name hydrogen. So we’re left with the Honda Readability and Toyota Mirai, which additionally present a cushty and quiet experience however equally tepid dynamics (albeit much less so within the Honda), as extra direct comparisons. Having by no means occupied the Readability Gasoline Cell, I can’t remark a lot about its efficiency, however the Mirai isn’t a lot better than the Nexo and presents its personal distinctive model of ultra-modern styling in a less-spacious feeling package deal.

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Regardless, there’s little cause to cross store until you’re dwelling in coastal California and hydrogen automobiles already attraction to you. However, even then, I might nonetheless recommend ready. The know-how and particularly the infrastructure have a methods to go earlier than reaching some extent the place battery-electric automobiles and particularly inner combustion automobiles have to significantly fear.

Until you’re on the lookout for a drivable dialog piece and end up perpetually caught in rush-hour visitors, the Hyundai Nexo is a tough move. It’s extraordinarily slick however lacks the basics.

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[Images: Hyundai; © 2018 Matt Posky/TTAC]

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