Hyundai's first attempt at a full-on eco car family is a strong one. The Ioniq offers plenty of practicality at an affordable price, with lots of kit, too. However, the electric motor and petrol engine aren't integrated as well as in the Prius, and the car isn't as comfortable, either.
Still, if efficiency on a budget is your main aim, the Ioniq is a great alternative to the Toyota Prius. On top of that, the amount of standard equipment is very generous, while the cabin is more conventional and easier to get along with day-to-day.
Hyundai's rise from bit-part player to genuine contender in the global car market has changed perceptions of the firm in next to no time. The brand has broadened its offering with everything from affordable small cars to upmarket SUVs, and now it's beginning its assault on the eco car sector with its all-new Ioniq.
This will go down as the first hybrid Hyundai to land in UK showrooms, and will be sold alongside plug-in hybrid and all-electric models. However, this standard hybrid version of the Ioniq conforms to a more familiar recipe, with a conventional 1.6-litre petrol engine linked to an electric motor to deliver impressive claimed fuel efficiency at an affordable price.
The plug-in hybrid will join the range in 2017, and there's already a pure-electric version on sale. But it starts at ?29,000, before the Government Plug-in Car Grant of ?4,500, so it's significantly more expensive than the regular Ioniq Hybrid. The range costs from an affordable ?20,000, with top-spec Premium SE Hybrid models priced at just over ?23,000.
The hybrid model isn't anything new, of course, because the Toyota Prius has been combining these methods of propulsion for years - and the latest fourth-generation version of the car does it to great effect. The Hyundai has a more affordable price than the Prius and promises masses of kit, though, so the Toyota faces a fight to stay on its petrol/electric perch.
With 139bhp in total from its four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor, the Ioniq offers decent performance. The Hyundai's six-speed DCT auto does a decent job of making the most of the in-gear shove, too. Holding it in fifth and sixth is where the electric motor's 170Nm of torque helps, as with engine revs low, the boost from the battery pack and motor ensures the Ioniq feels brisk enough in a straight line.
The petrol engine is always quick to cut in, even on a light throttle. Although Hyundai claims the car will hit 75mph on electric power alone, in reality it's difficult to coax the Ioniq along at this speed without the petrol motor intervening. The torque fill from the hybrid system is more noticeable off the line, where the instant shove effortlessly gets the Ioniq's 1,370kg body moving.
When the 1.6-litre unit does chime in, it's relatively refined. But as in the Toyota Prius, if you ask for maximum performance, the noise from under the bonnet becomes more intrusive. Gearchanges can sometimes be a little jerky, while the powertrain doesn't quite manage to switch between all-electric and combined power outputs as smoothly as the Prius's. The same is true of the Ioniq's regenerative braking, as you notice the step during the transmission between using the motor to slow the car and the brake discs, while the pedal feels dead under your foot.
Despite a firmer ride than the Prius, the Ioniq is comfortable most of the time, which helps give the car a relaxed feel on the move, encouraging you to extract maximum efficiency from the powertrain. Harsh ridges in the road cause the chassis to jump about a little, but on the motorway the Ioniq settles down to a smooth cruise.
The hybrid version of the Ioniq is one of three powertrains on offer. A fully electric model and plug-in hybrid version complete the lineup - the latter is the only version we haven't driven.
The Ioniq electric is claimed to have a range of up to 174 miles on a single charge, and capable of 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds. The immediate burst of acceleration from the electric motor and 295Nm of torque make it feel quicker than it is, but at around 60mph the initial surge of acceleration begins to tail off.
Hyundai hasn't yet published details of its plug-in hybrid model, which is due to arrive in the middle of 2017, but it will sit above the hybrid in terms of fuel effiency.
Fantastic on-paper efficiency claims are hard to match in the real world
Hybrids like the Ioniq are all about efficiency, so real-world economy is just as important as the Hyundai's claimed 79g/km CO2 emissions and 83mpg. On test, the Hyundai returned 47.9mpg, which was 9.1mpg less than a Toyota Prius we also tested. This difference is surprisingly large and means you'll spend an extra ?223 per year at the pumps by running the Ioniq.
Higher emissions means the Hyundai attracts a greater 15 per cent Benefit-in-Kind rate than the 11 per cent Prius, so although a high spec Ioniq is around ?900 cheaper to buy, it will actually cost higher-rate company car drivers upwards of ?300 per year more to run.
Go for the optional 17-inch wheels, and CO2 emissions rise significantly to 92g/km - almost as high as some regular diesel-powered eco cars.
To help maximise efficiency Hyundai fitted an aluminium bonnet and boot, as well as lightweight suspension components, which saved around 25kg over conventional items.
When it comes to efficiency, every gram counts, so stripping mass out of a car boosts fuel economy and lowers CO2 emissions. However, the welcome benefit is that lighter cars also handle and perform better; while the Ioniq won't set your pulse racing, the chassis is relatively capable.
Hyundai hasn't yet disclosed insurance groups for the Ioniq. However, the Toyota Prius serves as a good indicator as the two cars a very closely matched. Insurance groups for the Prius start at 15.
After three years and around 36,000 miles, the Ioniq is expected to retain around 47.8 per cent of its original value. That means if you go for a ?23,500 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium SE - our pick of the range - you'll get around ?11,000 for the car when you come to sell it in three years time.
Sleek shape and neat tech both appeal, but iffy build quality lets it down
Designing a hybrid from a clean sheet of paper as Hyundai has allows designers to put big emphasis on aerodynamic efficiency to extract the best possible fuel economy. There's not much point in maximising mpg from the drivetrain if a slab-like body shape with lots of drag undoes your hard work.
This much is obvious from the Ioniq's styling, as the curving roofline and some clever aerodynamic details give it a slippery shape.
A car's drag coefficient relates to the resistance created moving through the air; this is what designers strive to minimise, and in the Ioniq's case, it's a low 0.24. Actually, this is the same as the figure for the Toyota Prius, so it's no surprise that these cars bear a striking resemblance to one another. The Ioniq's low nose, gentle roofline and high, square tail give a similar look in profile, while both models feature a bar across the back dividing the large glass hatches.
Xenon headlamps are standard, while C-shaped LED running lights below make it easy to pick the car out on the move. A hexagonal grille connects the two sleek light units, and a contrasting colour insert at the base of the bumper gives scope to personalise the car, with seven different colours to choose from.
At the rear, the bar that divides the bootlid also acts as a brow for the tail-lights and dark glass panel, while a glossy black plastic insert in the bumper breaks up the smooth surfaces at the back. Small 15-inch alloy wheels are standard, although optional 17-inch alloys are available.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Equipment levels are pretty good all round, with Premium SE models getting plenty of kit, with heated and ventilated leather seats, parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard. Also fitted is an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
While there are no question marks over kit, there are a few over the build quality. The blue accents lift the sombre cabin, but some of the materials highlight the Ioniq's cheaper price tag. The interior design is also more conventional than the Toyota's, with the energy flow meter in the digital instrument cluster the only visual clue to the hybrid powertrain.
Spacious boot and decent rear passenger space make the Ioniq a capable family car
The 443-litre boot puts the Ioniq ahead of the Toyota Prius in terms of load space. This small advantage is helped by a lithium-ion battery pack underneath the rear bench that has allowed Hyundai's engineers to maximise luggage room.
However, it's not quite as large as the Toyota with the rear seats folded, offering 1,505 litres compared with 1,558 litres in the Prius, although most people will benefit more from the roomier five-seat layout.
A space-saver spare wheel comes as standard, so the underfloor boot storage is limited. However, with plenty of trinket trays, cubbies and cup-holders - as well as good-sized door bins - storage is a match for the level of passenger space on offer.
At 4,470mm long, 1,820mm wide and 1,450mm tall, the Ioniq is a little larger than a Toyota Prius and it shows in its more spacious boot.
Space in the back is decent enough, but the aerodynamic shape of Ioniq does limit headroom slightly. Those over six feet tall may feel their heads brushing against the roof - the more boxy Nissan Leaf offers more space inside.
For a hybrid the Ioniq has a surprisingly spacious load area, which measures in at 443 litres. Because Hyundai has located the batteries beneath the rear seats rather than under the boot floor, the Ioniq is the most spacious hybrid on the market when it comes to load capacity. The electric model isn't quite as spacious with a 350-litre boot.
Hyundai doesn't have a great reputation in our Driver Power survey, but five-year unlimited mileage warranty is attractive
A five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty shows Hyundai's confidence in the reliability of its products, but our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey proves owners don't rate the brand very highly in other respects. It finished only 30th out of 32 overall, with owners criticising seat comfort, road holding, ride quality and performance.
Hyundai also rated poorly for in-car tech, but at least the Ioniq does well here.
The car hasn't been crash tested yet, although with seven airbags and safety features like autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and blind- spot detection all standard on this version, we'd expect a full five-star Euro NCAP rating.
As the Ioniq is a brand new vehicle there isn't much we can report on in terms of reliability with regards to the hybrid or electric powertrains. However, the Korean manufacturer's commitment to developing more than 20 eco cars shows it has faith in the technology.
Another huge selling point of the Ioniq is its five-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Along side that class leading cover, Hyundai will also throws in a 12-year Anti-perforation warranty for the bodywork.
Hyundai offers a fixed price service plan of either three or fives years on the Ioniq, which provides buyers with an inflation proof and worry free option. Opt for the three-year pack and it'll will cover you for up to 30,000 miles, while the five-year pack covers your for up to 50,000 miles.
A one-off payment covers the cost, or buyers can consolidate the cost of the service plan into their overall finance package of the car.
Text Source: Auto Express