And here it is; the all-new Honda Clarity. A nameplate that is pretty much unheard of in this very part of the world. But in order to broaden its market ac‍‍‍ceptance, Honda has brought us an alternative with a much more familiar plug-in hybrid powertrain. We take both the Fuel Cell and PHEV model for a quick stroll to see what’s in store.

Introduced last year, the Clarity is basically one of Honda’s most advanced production car to date. Being hydrogen-powered, it pushes out a worthy 174bhp and 300Nm. Though you might think its just a recent invention, it isn't in actual fact. The nameplate has been around since 2008 badged as the FCX Clarity, and as driven here is the current and second-generation successor.

Getting into details, the Clarity Fuel Cell comes equipped with a 103kW fuel cell stack and AC synchronous motor that’s paired with a lithium-ion battery pack nestled under the front seats. The main tank holds up to 141-litres of hydrogen gas which takes just three minutes of your time to fill it up, and it’s joined by another additional 24-litre compartment situated under the back seats. If calculated, the Clarity Fuel Cell is able to travel up to 750km on a single tank as done under the JC08 cycle.

At the wheel from a standstill start, it simply whisks away in sheer silence — emulating the similar feel of driving a traditional EV vehicle. Flooring the accelerator pedal a little bit more than the regular limit results in an unique jet-like whine. By far, there’s no exciting elements to scream out about the Clarity Fuel Cell, but rather admire its sheer ride pliancy and seamlessness while testing it out on this short course situated beside the Twin Ring Motegi.

The Extraordinary EPITOME

Interior-wise, the Clarity Fuel Cell takes things to a whole new level if measured to its run-off-the-mill cousins in the marque. You’d be greeted with a full digital meter display that previews an array of modes and function, button gear selectors, bespoke dashboard design ‍‍‍with a nice mix of trims, and acres of cabin space for both driver and passengers.

Other notable features that you won’t find in most cars (apart from the Accord Hybrid marketed in the US) is the Direct Drive function. In simpler terms, the Clarity Fuel Cell doesn’t come with a transmission, but a fixed single-speed unit that utilises torque-buildup over a conventional gearbox to get up to speeds — though you’re not going to get anywhere more than 160km/h. These unique inventions are just a perfect fit to complement its rather outlandish exterior design.

A Universal APPROACH

While its Fuel Cell cousin takes the cake for being the most glitziest in techno-affair, the PHEV derivative is set to be the strongest-selling variant on the global stage. Don't dismiss it as a mere humdrum offering yet, though. The Clarity PHEV gets the brand’s second most advanced i-MMD hybrid setup after the SH-AWD that brings out 181bhp and 315Nm in combined power.

Though it comes with a conventional 1.5-litre Atkinson cycle mill, the Clarity PHEV also gets an electric motor and 17kWh battery pack. Charging only takes 2.5 hours via a 240-volt power source, and if you’re looking at saving some moolah and surrounding greens, you can just simply toggle on EV mode to relish a 100km petrol-free drive on a full charge.

Though the PHEVs 530km range pales in comparison to the Fuel Cell model, it certainly feels livelier to drive at first impression. Getting up to speeds is adequate, though not really fast despite portraying an impressive power output figure. Progressive is the perfect word to match its drive feel — and in terms of at the wheel atmosphere — it drives and behaves pretty much the same as the Fuel Cell specimen. And that’s not a bad thing.

Also in similar fashion, the Clarity PHEV also uses a direct drive unit. But this time, there’s an built-in step function to maximise the use of pure electric power. Take the PHEV as a more viable substitute for our market as it presents zero range anxiety, which is a common feeling you’ll get by driving electric vehicles. But sadly, we won’t be expecting it to arrive on our shores.

‍‍‍words by KEEGAN DORAI


More Than Just

Being marketed in countries or areas that’s prone to natural disasters such as Japan and the State of California, the Clarity Fuel Cell is designed to be used as a source of power in unison with the Power Exporter 9000 generator. When needed, this device is able to power electricity for an average household continuously for seven days!


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