NEW HYBRID ON THE GRID
MEET Hyundai’s answer to the Toyota Prius, 21 years after the world’s biggest selling hybrid went on sale.
As with the Toyota, the Ioniq is teardrop-shaped to help it slip through the air and it’s powered by a frugal petrol engine paired with an electric motor.
The Ioniq, also in common with the Prius, has an onboard battery pack that charges itself when coasting down hills or braking.
This gives it enough juice to power the electric motor when moving the car from rest or give it a boost on the move.
When the Ioniq hybrid goes on sale in Australia mid-year – two years after its overseas showroom debut – it will also be joined by plug-in hybrid and pure electric versions, with 50km and 280km of petrol-free driving range respectively.
Toyota opted for a more daring design so the Prius and its owners stand out from the crowd. The Ioniq has a more conventional appearance, the better to blend in.
The interior looks like pretty much any small Hyundai, with lots of grey plastic, except for the fancy digital instrument screen that displays hybrid information and can be switched to a sport display.
Cabin fit and finish are good, there’s ample storage space in the doors, console and glovebox, but most of the materials look and feel cheap with the exception of the soft-touch technical grain on the dash and doors.
It has a full suite of safety equipment: autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping and lane changing assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, rear camera, radar cruise control, rain sensing wipers and tyre pressure monitors.
In the rear, there are two Isofix child seat mounting points and three top tether hooks, and the seats fold down to create a massive, flat cargo area.
The Ioniq steers well and the tyres and suspension provide a good blend of comfort over bumps and precision in corners.
Shod with Michelin tyres – as is the Camry Hybrid –, it’s one of the better Hyundais to drive.
Acceleration is on par with the Camry Hybrid (0-100km/h in about 10 seconds on our GPS timing equipment). Sport mode trims about half a second from that time but the gear shifts are more abrupt.
The Ioniq uses a twin-clutch automatic transmission as opposed to the Prius’s continuously variable transmission.
For those inclined to take more control over their driving, the Ioniq has shift paddles on the steering wheel, so you can trim up or down quickly to either save fuel or exploit more performance.
After 400km of what the car told us was “66 per cent economical driving, 30 per cent normal driving and 4 per cent aggressive driving” we averaged 5.0L/100km.
That’s 25 per cent more than the Green Vehicle Guide’s rating label and on par with our figures for the much bigger Camry.
Verdict: A solid first effort and worth a look if it’s priced close to $30,000. If the RRP is closer to $35,000, be sure also to take a Toyota Camry Hybrid for a test drive.
Hyundai’s hybrid Ioniq.