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Hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai opens German WRC stages

by Ronan Glon

The custom-built Mirai features a roll cage, special brake pads and rally tires.

Toyota surprised motorsport enthusiasts when it unleashed a hydrogen-powered Mirai during this year's ADAC Rally Deutschland, an annual World Rally Championship (WRC) event that takes place on the outskirts of Trier, Germany.

The Mirai was built to open the stages so it's not directly competing against other WRC cars. That didn't stop Toyota from making a handful of sport-focused modifications to the sedan including installing high-performance brake pads all around, a full roll cage, bucket seats and a set of rally tires.

Toyota has not made any mechanical changes, meaning the stage opener drifts around corners thanks to a 153-horsepower hydrogen-electric drivetrain. Hardly a sports car, it is capable of reaching 62 mph from a stop in 9.6 seconds. That's not a lot, but Toyota boss Akio Toyoda pointed out the Mirai is fun to drive because it boasts an unusually low center of gravity.

Toyota is making a long-awaited return to WRC racing in 2017 with a hot-rodded Yaris, but the company has revealed it's open to the idea of building a hydrogen-powered rally car.

"It is our dream that one day our fuel cell vehicles will be able to compete in WRC. Spectators at the Rallye Deutschland will have to get used to this noiseless premiere at Trier, but they'll experience the art of an almost pollution-free future," said Yoshikazu Tanaka, the Mirai's chief engineer.

The Toyota Mirai is on sale now in California, though only about 200 units will be shipped to the United States this year. It will also go on sale in the United Kingdom, in Denmark and in Germany in the coming months.

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