Recently the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid landed in the EFTM Garage, it’s a rare breed at the moment as we await the official launch. Hyundai has rolled out around 70 Ioniq vehicles to various fleets around the country. The Australian Red Cross, South Australian Government and Northern Alliance in Victoria have received them as part of a wider trial. Chris Bowen spent a week in the battery-electric hybrid variant.
A Unique Proposition.
There’s little doubt the Ioniq will be a direct competitor to the now couple of decades old Toyota Prius. However, three variants will be on offer with the as tested hybrid joined by a plug-in version and fully electric model. That’s the major point of difference here, with the latter two sure to gain the most attention.
The Ioniq I drove is powered by a petrol-electric combo that produces 104kW from a 1.6-litre engine and electric motor. The official combined fuel consumption is rated at 3.2L/100km, I managed a pretty tidy 3.9L/100km over around 400km of driving.
The Ioniq clearly has gone down the Prius path, the looks clearly announce to the world you’re more concerned with being the green guy in the street. Front on is reasonably pleasant to look at, but then as you move from the A-pillar back it all gets a bit too tree-hugging more me. I get the need to really focus on aerodynamics on these types of cars, but I’m not sure I could ever warm to the design. The rear window is split in two by a panel that reminded me of a Honda CRX from the late eighties. The 16-inch rims look the part, with a five spoke design that almost makes them look like wind turbines.
The car itself is jam packed with driver assist technologies. Under the Hyundai SmartSense banner there’s lane keep assist, blind spot detection, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
The cabin on our test car was full of luxuries like heated and cooled leather seats, wireless charging, push button start, LCD 7-inch colour instrument cluster, 8-inch touch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android auto plus a sunroof.
This is actually one of the perkier hybrids around, plus it has a real gearbox as opposed to the usual CVT transmission. A six-speed dual-clutch transmission makes for a lively drive, for a hybrid. There’s even a sports mode and the brave move to even throw in a pair of paddle shifters.
So, as a result, it is possible to enjoy the drive and become somewhat engaged with the overall experience. But it does lack the polish of other Hyundai models in the ride and handling stakes. The ride is a tad coarse with a high level of road noise making its way into the cabin. Overall it does need a dose of local tuning to bring it in line with the rest of the fleet, I found it to be a little ungainly through the corners.
The hybrid drivetrain will coast in EV mode up to around 30km/h under light acceleration and is generally a smooth unit. Power is seamlessly shifted from petrol to electric and I think experienced hybrid owners would be impressed by the system.
Full pricing and specification details will be announced very soon, with the Ioniq set to launch shortly. But my initial impressions are this. The Toyota Prius is better executed on a ride and comfort level while Toyota Corolla hybrid variants offer more style. But honestly, this is the most surprising hybrid I’ve driven in terms of the way the drivetrain mimics a more traditional setup. If it comes in around $30,000 for the base, they may win over a few fans.