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Honda’s first production hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle, which is set to make its official debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, was previewed in working form at the 2015 Honda Meeting in Japan ahead of the show. The FCV, which was not officially named but is set to be called the Clarity Fuel Cell (the name will officially be revealed at the TMS), led the line at the tech showcase held at the automaker’s Tochigi R&D facility.

Aside from the first live photos, initial details of the car, essentially a dressed-down, showroom version of the FCV Concept shown in Los Angeles last year, were also revealed at the event, and the stats largely follows the numbers announced for the initial study.

The spiritual successor to the FCX Clarity, a lease-only hydrogen-powered vehicle that was introduced in 2007, will take the fight to the Toyota Mirai when it goes on sale in Japan sometime in the first quarter of 2016 (reportedly, at the end of March).

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Measuring in at 4,895 mm long, 1,875 mm wide and 1,475 mm tall, the production FCV is just a shade larger than the Clarity (4,845 x 1,845 x 1,470 mm). Visually arresting, even if a bit gangly-looking (though nowhere near as that presented by the Mirai), there’s a fair bit of heft to the physical shape as the photos suggest.

The biggest advancements however have come underneath all the skin – as previously reported, the car features a new Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) stack that is 33% smaller than before (but weighing much the same as previously, according to the Honda engineers).

This reduction is stack packaging size means the car’s entire hydrogen powertrain can now be consolidated under the bonnet, freeing up space to present a full five-seat interior, which is one more than the Mirai (and for that matter, the Clarity). The company says that both the technical package and skeleton structure of the car has significant promise of deployment on other models down the line.

When it eventually goes on sale, the production FCV will also be available with an external power feeding inverter, which will lend it the ability to be a mobile power plant, offering an invaluable source of electricity in emergencies or the event of a disaster.

Despite the reduction is size, power output is up, the new unit offering 130 kW at 500 volts compared to the 100 kW at 300 volts produced by the Clarity. Its output density of 3.1 kW per litre, meanwhile, betters the Clarity’s 1.85 kW per litre by a staggering 60%. Torque is also up, with 300 Nm of twist compared to the 256 Nm on the Clarity.

Operating range has also been improved significantly. The Clarity could do around 570 km, courtesy of a 35 MPa hydrogen tank. The new FCV is claimed to be able to do more than 700 km, thanks to a larger 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tank, which can be refilled in just three minutes, about the same as a regular petrol fill-up.

Despite the sizeable tank, there’s still enough in the way of boot space to take three golf bags, Honda says – the rear cargo area looks sizeable enough, though fitting more than one large bag might be a bit of a pinch.

No sacrifice to rear seat space, and it’s actually quite roomy, as noticed while doing interior photography of the car – the light tone of the interior trim obviously does its bit too in adding a better perception of volumetric scope. Elsewhere, the presentation of the front half of the cabin is clean, and materials feel decent to the touch.

The delivery wasn’t all static. A short sampling offered a glimpse of the promise – glimpse in this case being a single-pass, straight-line run over a kilometre-long loop. While nothing beyond low-speed accelerative qualities could really be gauged, the initial report card scores quite nicely.

Inevitably, there’s no escaping the perception of weight, but the system offers the car decent take-up with progressive throttle input. The FCV itself is quietly poised, refined and rather likable. More on the Honda FCV when it makes its debut in Tokyo tomorrow.