Hyundai’s hy­brid works like a reg­u­lar hatch but leads the way for the brand’s elec­tric cars

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page - IAIN CURRY & JULES LUCHT

Hyundai is be­gin­ning an all-out as­sault on Aus­tralia’s hy­brid and elec­tric mar­ket. The com­pelling Kona Elec­tric small SUV goes on sale early next year, pre­ceded by the Hyundai Ioniq due for re­lease this Oc­to­ber. There are three vari­ants of the lat­ter, with a buyer’s level of elec­tric car ac­cep­tance de­ter­min­ing if they’d rather an Ioniq Hy­brid, Plug-in or Elec­tric.

The Elec­tric has no in­ter­nal com­bus­tion en­gine but its 98kW/295Nm mo­tor and bat­tery are good for a range of 280km be­tween charges.

The Hy­brid and Plug-in use a 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre petrol en­gine with 32kW/170Nm elec­tric mo­tor (104kW/265Nm to­tal), the dif­fer­ence be­ing the Plug-in has a larger bat­tery pack to give all-elec­tric range of 63km. The Hy­brid uses elec­tric only power at low speed such as in traf­fic, help­ing it achieve econ­omy of just 3.9L/100km.

We tested the Ioniq Hy­brid ahead of its Aus­tralian on-sale date.


JULES: I thought there was a drive for hy­brid cars to stop look­ing so hy­brid-y and more like nor­mal cars?

IAIN: There is. The Ioniq doesn’t look too tree-huggy.

JULES: The wheels look like some­thing a fu­tur­ist drew in the 1970s, and the rear looks plain weird with its split rear glass.

IAIN: Un­con­ven­tional bum, I agree, but the front is at­trac­tive and looks very “nor­mal car”.

JULES: True. Above all it’s far more hand­some than the hor­ren­dously over-de­signed Toy­ota Prius.

IAIN: This Ioniq Hy­brid will cost less than the UFO-es­que Prius Hy­brid but will be pricier than the Corolla Hy­brid and about the same as the much big­ger Camry Hy­brid. JULES: Plenty of choice then for about $30,000. Is it worth it? What’s the fuel econ­omy?

IAIN: This Ioniq re­turns an of­fi­cial 3.9L/100km and we got 4.4L on test. It’s good but plenty of cheaper non-hy­brid small cars with turbo en­gines do sim­i­lar.

JULES: You should go the Plug-in (1.1L/100km) or Elec­tric ver­sion then. The Ioniq is styled to help you show your green cre­den­tials, so you may as well be as ve­gan, fruitar­ian, raw foodie, eco-mil­i­tant as pos­si­ble.

IAIN: They’re go­ing to be more ex­pen­sive and they make most sense for city folk and taxi driv­ers. And to be truly green, you need so­lar to charge the bat­ter­ies on plug-ins. This Hy­brid charges its bat­ter­ies by brak­ing and coast­ing.


JULES: Fa­mil­iar Hyundai, mean­ing plain but good, and the in­clu­sions are ex­cel­lent.

IAIN: Ours is the Pre­mium ver­sion with plenty of good­ies. The fauxleather seats are shaped to sup­port and are heated and ven­ti­lated, which is su­perb for Aus­tralia’s cli­mate ex­tremes.

JULES: The touch­screen is fine although not bril­liantly high-res. Hav­ing Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto, sat­nav, sun­roof, key­less en­try and wire­less phone charg­ing is ex­cel­lent.

IAIN: I like the heated flat­bot­tom steer­ing wheel and dig­i­tal dash­board but it’s very grey in here. I’m sure there’ll be other cabin colours but ours needs a bit more jazz, not least as grey adorns the dash­board and door trim, too.

JULES: Some blue trim or blue am­bi­ent light­ing would work, re­mind­ing you that you’re a hy­brid con­vert.

IAIN: It has a foot-op­er­ated park brake rather than a hand­brake. That’s in­ex­cus­able. JULES: I con­stantly for­get to take it off. I’ve been told off by beeps far too of­ten.


IAIN: Sit­ting it traf­fic is where the Ioniq makes most sense. It hap­pily rolls along silently on elec­tric power, us­ing no fuel at all.

JULES: I’m im­pressed how it goes from elec­tric to petrol power al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly.

IAIN: I’d love to keep it in full elec­tric mode for longer. If I just tap the throt­tle the petrol en­gine kicks in. It needs a but­ton to keep you on elec­tric power only.

JULES: It cruises well and is re­ally smooth and com­fort­able. You for­get it’s a hy­brid in no time.

IAIN: The dual-clutch auto gear­box can be a bit jerky at low speed. That apart, re­ally im­pressed.


JULES: For a hy­brid with a full-size spare the boot space is su­perb. Where do they keep the bat­ter­ies?

IAIN: Un­der the rear seats. This means its 456L boot is 100L-plus big­ger than a Prius.


IAIN: Hyundais these days are nor­mally bril­liant to steer but the Ioniq doesn’t han­dle sat­is­fy­ingly. Fun days out would be see­ing what eco score you at­tain.

JULES: Doesn’t sound much fun.

IAIN: A read­out gives you Eco­nom­i­cal, Nor­mal or Ag­gres­sive per­cent­age scores to grade your driv­ing. I tried to be good and re­turned only 3 per cent Ag­gres­sive.

JULES: You soon re­alise there’s no point try­ing to coax driv­ing thrills from it.

IAIN: You can find some. Put it in Sport mode — the dig­i­tal dash turns red­der and gives you a tachome­ter — and take con­trol of the gears via the pad­dle-shifters. The elec­tric boost gives sat­is­fy­ing torque pull. Not for long though. JULES: To be fair, the Ioniq’s dual-clutch auto gear­box is a lot more re­ward­ing than a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion.


IAIN: The slop­ing roof means I have just enough head­room in the rear seat.

JULES: It’s a good size for young kids, there are rear air vents and the com­pre­hen­sive safety kit is bril­liant.


IAIN: The Ioniq’s a de­cent all-round pack­age but the Hy­brid doesn’t of­fer mas­sive fuel sav­ings com­pared to cheaper non-hybrids. If they’re not too ex­pen­sive, I’d be more in­clined to the Ioniq Plug-in or Elec­tric.

JULES: I still don’t like the idea of plug­ging my car in, so the Hy­brid works for me. It’s not ex­cit­ing, it looks funny but it drives much like a nor­mal car, which is prob­a­bly the point.

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