Ticket to the fu­ture

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Five Things -

At first glance the Ioniq looks like a Hyundai copy of the Toy­ota Prius, and in some ways it is, from its five-door hatch­back body — with a splitlevel rear win­dow — to its im­pres­sive 0.24 drag co­ef­fi­cient. But it’s much more, as Hyundai is us­ing the Ioniq (based on the me­chan­i­cal plat­form of the pre­vi­ous­gen­er­a­tion i30) as the ba­sis for real-world test­ing and sales of its ad­vanced fuel tech­nol­ogy. The Ioniq may look like it came from the same mould as the Prius and driv­ing it in South Korea shows it does a sim­i­lar job on ef­fi­ciency with econ­omy around 4.1 litres/100km. But it has a chunkier feel than the land­mark Toy­ota and is qui­eter, helped by thicker glass. The dash­board dis­play is not as space-age as the Prius but it’s sportier, grip­ping the road bet­ter through cor­ners for more driv­ing en­joy­ment. It has a con­ven­tional six-speed twin­clutch auto with its 1.6-litre petrol en­gine. A plug-in hy­brid is in de­vel­op­ment and a ma­jor fo­cus for fu­ture Euro sales.

A fully plug-in Ioniq is avail­able for city driv­ing in Seoul and it’s typ­i­cal of the bat­tery-car breed, ac­cel­er­at­ing briskly and al­most silently. There is a lithium-ion poly­mer bat­tery, an 88kW elec­tric mo­tor and a claimed range of 200 kilo­me­tres between charges. It has driver ad­justable re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing with switches on the steer­ing wheel, a first for a Cars­guide drive, which means you can tune the brak­ing ef­fort for more fun. It feels more like the Nis­san Leaf as an elec­tric con­ver­sion of an ex­ist­ing car, not a true fu­ture car like the BMW i3. It’s be­ing used for self-driv­ing de­vel­op­ment work at Hyundai’s gi­ant re­search and de­vel­op­ment base at Namyang, with var­i­ous radar and lidar sys­tems and flu­oures­cent yel­low trim pieces in the cabin that shout about its abil­ity. It drives it­self com­pe­tently through a 10minute demo run, al­though it’s jerkier than an au­tonomous BMW 7 Se­ries. It’s not do­ing any­thing spe­cial but Hyundai be­lieves au­tonomous driv­ing is the fu­ture and wants an early ticket to the ac­tion. There are def­i­nite plans to bring the Ioniq to Aus­tralia as a hy­brid, even if the launch date has been pushed back from 2016 into the sec­ond half of this year. The elec­tric Ioniq is also on the radar, but Euro­pean con­sumers want the plug-in hy­brid as a pri­or­ity and that could hurt the lo­cal tim­ing. Based on Amer­i­can pric­ing the Ioniq hy­brid should be at least $3000 cheaper than the Toy­ota Prius and it’s the sort of car that can help to pol­ish the Hyundai badge along­side the high­per­for­mance N-di­vi­sion cars at the op­po­site end of the ac­tion.

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