Toyota Mirai is all grown up, and it looks awesome

The 2021 Toyota Mirai is built on a rear-wheel drive platform

With the new model, Toyota is rebooting the series with a more coupe- and Lexus- (and less Prius-) inspired design, while surprisingly ditching the first Mirai's more common front-wheel drive architecture for a sportier rear-wheel drive setup, all in the name of creating a more desirable vehicle. It's longer and wider than the outgoing Mirai, but lower.

Inside, the layout is cleaner and more modern, while the extra space allows for five-passenger seating.

Inside, we get more hints of the Mirai's LS roots with the most obvious hints being the massive 12.3-inch widescreen display and digital instrument cluster and high level of appointment.

Perhaps most compelling, Toyota says the 2021 Mirai should be more engaging on the road.

Tellingly, the new Mirai is built on Toyota's modular TNGA platform, one shared with everything from the Prius to the Camry, helpfully reducing per-unit production costs of a model that has always been a loss-leader due to its expensive hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain. Beyond the updated styling, the Mirai concept is targeting a 30% increase in range, which would result in a range in excess of 400 miles (up from 312 miles).

Instead of relying on a heavy lithium-ion battery pack to power electric motors, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles work by combining hydrogen in fuel cell to produce electricity.

"I hope this vehicle will help realize a hydrogen-energized society", said Yoshikazu Tanaka, the Mirai's chief engineer.

The next-generation Toyota Mirai will go on sale globally next year, though an Australian release is far from being locked in.

Certainly, there are areas where FCEVs have advantages over all-electric cars along with gas-electric hybrids. It is a auto that is technically sophisticated, yet eminently practical with a driving range of around 500km, easy refuelling in a matter of minutes and no emissions other than pure water. The hydrogen can be refilled in about 5 minutes, much faster than an electric vehicle takes to fully charge. And with the 2021 Toyota Mirai, the Japanese carmaker is hedging its bets on hydrogen fuel cell technology. Right now that means you're basically limited to select spots in California or Hawaii.

The original Mirai was launched for 2016 at a starting price of $57,500, or a monthly lease of $499.

Numerous world's top carmakers may be racing to make plug-in electric vehicles in response to the climate crisis, but Toyota is hedging its bets by backing an alternative source of power for its cars.

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