28 Jul 16
News

First Drive Hyundai Ioniq: the (H)EV for petrolheads

When the Koreans do something, they are not satisfied with just average or good. They are eager to excel and set an example. In the case of Hyundai, they did not just want to develop another hybrid. Instead, they made the Ioniq, the only car in the world that offers its customers the choice between three electrified powertrains: 100 percent electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid. Its goal: to make green mobility available to a large public, with a low-to-zero emission vehicle that does not feel like you are sacrificing driving pleasure, comfort or convenience. On the contrary.

EV, HEV or PHEV

To spread development costs and cover as many eco segments as possible, Hyundai developed a platform that can host three electrified powertrains. The first is a full electric, with a large 28 kWh lithium ion polymer battery and a 120 hp/295 Nm permanent magnet synchronous motor. The really interesting numbers are that of its range and its 0-100 kph acceleration: 280 km and 9.9 seconds. The hybrid powertrain combines a 105 hp 1.6 petrol engine with a 43.5 hp electric motor fed by a smaller 1.56 kWh battery to achieve a combined fuel consumption of 3.4 l/100 km, equalling 79 g/km of CO2. Its plug-in sibling, which will be available next year, tries to offer the best of both worlds: it is based on the HEV, but carries a larger 8.9 kWh rechargeable battery which allows for a 50 km electric range and CO2 emissions as low as 32 g/km.

Positioning

The Ioniq doesn’t look like a regular car, but it isn’t as polarising as some of its competitors either. In the EV segment, it barely has any competition apart from the Nissan Leaf – and perhaps the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive. Compared to these two, the Ioniq Electric offers a greater range, while it costs considerably less. It also boasts an 8 year/200,000 km warranty on the battery, while the rest of the car is covered by Hyundai’s 5 year unlimited mileage warranty. The Ioniq Hybrid jumps right in the pond that until now was dominated by the Toyota Prius – and should make a big splash at that, considering its attractive price tag, equipment and – most importantly – the ‘non hybrid’ way it drives.   

Ioniq Hybrid: a truly realistic alternative

Hyundai Motor Europe chose Amsterdam for the European press presentation. Not illogical, if you consider that the Dutch capital has invested heavily in charging infrastructure and wants to set an example in full electric mobility. We got behind the wheel of the Ioniq Hybrid for a 3 hour test drive, most of which consisted of motorway, altered with medium-dense urban traffic. The first thing you notice, is how normal the Ioniq drives. Thanks to its six speed dual clutch transmission there is no ‘elastic band’ effect during acceleration, making it at least as fun to drive as a non-hybrid petrol-powered saloon. The response to the accelerator is instant, also because the electric motor acts as an instant turbo, boosting power to up to 141 hp. Below 120 kph the Ioniq Hybrid can also drive on electricity alone. On the motorway power comes entirely from the ICE, which thanks to the 6 DCT isn’t kept at ear-torturing engine speeds. In other words, if there is any (affordable) HEV that will convince petrolheads, this is the one.

Practicality and equipment

Underneath its sleek five-door body the Ioniq offers plenty of interior space thanks to the clever packaging of the powertrain. In the case of the HEV, the battery is installed underneath the back seat. The HEV’s boot can take 443 litres (1,505 with the rear seats flat), a number reduced to 350 (1,410) litres in the case of the EV. There are three equipment levels, all of which offer impressive value for money. All models feature Autonomous Emergency Braking, Active Cruise Control and 7 airbags as standard, with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keeping Assist and HID headlights available on the higher versions. Especially useful on a hot summer’s day are the ventilated leather seats. We were rather impressed by the build quality and the eco-friendly materials used, not to mention the hi-res 8 inch capacitive screen with Android Auto and Apple Car Play compatibility. In the case of the Ioniq Electric, it allows remote pre-programmed charging and even cooling or heating of the interior.    

Why you should consider it

The Ioniq Hybrid is definitely the first affordable family car that makes you forget that you are driving a combination of an electric and an internal combustion engine. Kudos to the 6 DCT transmission, which is the perfect interface between both engines and massively contributes to the smooth and dynamic driving experience – as does the multilink rear suspension. It offers excellent value for money, 5 door hatchback practicality, the latest in active safety technology and probably quite convincing TCO numbers, not least thanks to its comprehensive warranty package. Another perk is the fact that a 7-year subscription to the Tom Tom Live services is included. The Ioniq Electric raises the bar in the EV segment, with its 280 km range and on-board charger allowing the batteries to recharge in 4h25min on a standard outlet and in 23 to 30 minutes at a quick charge station.    

Hyundai really pushes the envelope with the Ioniq, a remarkable car available in three shades of green. Thanks to its dual clutch transmission, Europe-proof suspension and convincing look & feel, the Ioniq HEV might just be the model that convinces non-believers to switch to hybrid. But don’t go expecting Mondeo-like agility or Bavarian pezaz. Instead, expect roominess, a sense of eco-quality, stress-free smooth driving, and a very attractive kit-per-euro ratio, not least in terms of safety. The same goes for the Ioniq EV, which carries a heftier price tag, but remains a very convincing offering in its segment indeed.

Authored by: Dieter Quartier