The future is now: a drive in the 2017 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell!

Auto Blog were treated to an exclusive first drive in the new 2017 Clarity Fuel Cell this month. The new model is Honda’s bid to move away from fossil fuels while offering a roomy and responsive saloon that delivers 385 on a 3-minute fill up.

They went on to report “Sure, the headline and badge reads 2017 Honda Clarity, but it sure as heck looks, feels, and drives like a 2022 Honda Accord. The dimensions would be consistent with a next-next-generation midsize sedan, the look is familiar but evolutionarily advanced, and the cabin is different enough without being concept-car kooky. Oh yeah, and it's powered by hydrogen.”

 

“Get behind the wheel and it accelerates like an electric car with no weird noises or sensations. The steering, the brakes, and the handling in general are Accord normal. Look around the cabin and you'll see five seats uncompromised by odd bulges disguising powertrain components.”

Reporter James Riswick wrote “A hydrogen fuel cell car like the Clarity is indeed different. Rather than a gasoline engine, there's a stack of fuel cells packaged within a metal housing roughly the size of a desktop computer. Within it, hydrogen and oxygen are chemically combined to create the electricity needed to move the car. Much like a regular hybrid, an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack augment that acceleration, and as you might recall from basic chemistry, the by-product of combining H2 and O is water. No smog-causing or climate-changing emissions.”

“All of the componentry that was previously under the hood has been tilted forward 90 degrees, allowing for the new, more compact fuel cell to be sandwiched horizontally between it and that new FCVCU above. Altogether, it's roughly the same size as an Accord's V6 powertrain, and although the small lithium-ion battery pack technically still resides under the front seats, the cabin is no longer compromised. The driving position is at a normal height, there's a regular centre console boasting Honda's usual clever packaging, and importantly, there are five seats, rather than the four provided by the previous Clarity and the Toyota Mirai.”

“The cabin also goes a long way in providing that premium feel. The Clarity has by far the highest-quality interior in the Honda fleet and its design is far more compelling than anything sold by Acura (yes, even the NSX). The open-pore wood trim used in tasteful abundance on the dash and floating centre console looks excellent, as does the suede cloth trim in between.”

“Honda will be releasing a Clarity EV and Clarity Plug-In Hybrid later in the year. Those will certainly find more homes than the Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle, and although they won't have quite the same made-in-2022 driving experience, they'll nevertheless retain the same premium feel, uncompromised cabin, and Accord-of-the-future looks (although the aerodynamic wheel slats do give the rear view an almost 1950s retro quality). In other words, you won't need hydrogen to sample the greatest hits of tomorrow.”