Cockburn Gazette - - DRIVEWAY - Joshua Dowl­ing

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 petrol­free 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.

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