Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) is one of the big punchers at the KL International Motor Show (KLIMS) 2018. The brand’s stand houses a variety of cars – from new models for Malaysia (Santa Fe, Grand Starex facelift), cars that are coming soon (Kona 1.6 Turbo), eco-friendly tech showcases (Kona Electric), interest gauging models (Accent) and even a performance corner with the i30 N hot hatch.

In this post, we’ll zoom in on the Hyundai Nexo. This is not just your regular electric car, but a hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV. The Nexo debut earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and is a tech sequel to the Tucson/ix35 FCEV, Hyundai’s previous fuel cell effort.

Built on a dedicated architecture, the Nexo is lighter, faster and roomier than the Tucson FCEV. It looks like a bespoke tech flagship too, and not just an FCEV version of a regular ICE-powered SUV. Seven years have passed since the Korean carmaker completed development of the Tucson FCEV, and since then fuel cell technology – experimented by the likes of Hyundai, Toyota, Honda and Mercedes-Benz – have progressed.

Net power from the Nexo’s fuel cell (95 kW) and battery (40 kW) is higher than in the Tucson FCEV, at 135 vs 124 kW. The 120 kW (161 hp)/395 Nm electric motor also has a higher output compared to the old car’s 100 kW (134 hp)/300 Nm. The overall system is also lighter and better packaged, with improved hydrogen storage tanks.

Claimed estimated driving range is up to 595 km, which is significantly higher than the 426 km Hyundai claimed for the Tucson FCEV. At 9.5 seconds, the Nexo is also three seconds faster from 0 to 96 km/h (60 mph).

Bare figures aside, the Nexo also performs better in the real world. Hyundai subjected the SUV to overnight temperatures of -29 degrees Celsius, and says that the Nexo’s cold start capability of within 30 seconds is an industry-leading achievement. The fuel cell system also warms up faster for better performance. Refuelling times are now as low as five minutes and NVH performance have been improved.

As for dimensions, the five-seater Nexo is 4,671 mm long and 1,859 mm wide, which puts it 196 mm longer and 9 mm wider than today’s Tucson. The FCEV’s 2,789 mm wheelbase is 119 mm longer than Hyundai’s mid-size SUV.

The full-width strip of LED daytime running lights across the face is one of the exterior design highlights, while the button-rich cockpit’s combined digital instrument panel and centre screen has a cute treetop “roof” on it.

Is the future with regular EVs – which might consume energy from polluting and/or non-renewable sources – or fuel cell EVs, which are powered by an abundant source of hydrogen?