ioniq - hyundai ioniq hybrid premium 02 - Hyundai Ioniq: the bluey-green economy machine

What is it?

Hyundai’s Ioniq is in fact the first car to be offered in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric form.

It also has the distinction of being the most fuel efficient, mass produced hybrid vehicle, with an official combined fuel consumption rating of just 3.9L/100km (and that includes the Toyota Prius).

The only problem for Hyundai is that neither of these testaments have translated into much-needed sales, with just 306 of the cars sold so far this year in Australia — although in fairness this is only the second full year of sales.

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What’s it cost?

Prices start at $33,990 for the 1.6 Hybrid Elite, $38,990 for the Premium, $40,990 for the plug-in Elite, $45,490 for the plug-in Premium, $44,990 for the Electric Elite and finally $48,990 for Electric Premium.

The choice as they say is yours, but for our money, out test vehicle the hybrid Premium is the way to go, at least at this stage.

You don’t want to worry about plugging it in and you certainly don’t need the range anxiety and the regime that comes with owning an electric vehicle — at least at this stage.

With a 45-litre tank, fuel consumption is a claimed 3.9L/100km and it takes ordinary 91 unleaded petrol.

Safety package includes seven airbags, rear view camera, Front Collision Warning and Avoidance Assist with Pedestrian Detection with new Cyclist Detection ability and Driver Attention Warning. Blind Spot Alert, Lane Keeping Assist and High Beam Assist also come standard.

Standard equipment includes leather and dual zone climate air conditioning, along with push button start, power adjust driver’s seat, heated and cooled front seats, LED lights, adaptive cruise control, auto lights and wipers, auto dimming rear view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, wireless phone charging, and 8.0 inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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What’s it go like?

The Ioniq is very liveable.

It’s not as large as a the Camry Hybrid, but can accomodate four extra large adults in relative comfort.

The 1.6-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine and electric motor produce a combined output of 104kW of power and 265Nm of torque, with the torque available down low thanks to the electric motor.

In fact, under the right circumstances, it can operate in electric only mode at speeds of up to 120km/h — that’s normally when the engine is not under load on the motorway or on long downhill runs.

The permanent magnet electric motor delivers 32kW with maximum torque of 170Nm, powered by a lithium-ion-polymer battery with 1.56 kWh capacity positioned under the rear seats.

The powertrain is paired with a 6-speed twin clutch style transmission.

It’s an unusual combination but one that works, with paddles and sport mode also available.

Suspension is Mac strut up front and a multi-link setup down the back, with gas shocks all round and in the case of the Premium model — 17 inch alloys and 225/45 series Michelin Primacy rubber.

Cooling vents behind the front grille open and close automatically to maximise aerodynamic performance.

Engine response is above average, even with the aforementioned four adults aboard, and the car has no trouble pulling up long hills.

As well as spicing up peformance, switching to sport mode changes the look of the driver’s instrument panel, from blue and white to red and orange combo, with speed taking the predominant position in the centre surrounded by the rev counter.

Cycling through the information display to the right side of the speedo reveals a breakdown of your particular driving style.

Ours was reported as 53 per cent economic, 36 per cent normal and 11 per cent aggressive (not sure how that last one got through the fun police).

To the left another graph tells you whether the car is currently you’re in power, eco or charge mode.

Off throttle and travelling downhill in charge mode elicits some odd noises from the regenerative front brakes.

The interior is compact but cosy, with front seats that are heated and cooled, and a heated flat-bottomed steering wheel that is height and reach adjustable — plus power adjustment for the driver’s seat.

With the odd exception, most cars these days have blinkers that flash three times at a touch.

It’s never really been clear who decided three was the ideal figure, but in the Ioniq the number can be boosted to five or even seven.

The parking brake is foot operated and forgetting to release the brake is an easy thing to do and one that generates a loud alarm sounds — by the third or fourth time it becomes really annoying.

An 8.0 inch touchscreen is home to satellite navigation, DAB digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Destination entry is more difficult than it needs to be and we found the guidance instructions difficult to follow.

Digital radio reception was patchy where others have been rock soild.

A wireless charge pad can be found to the rear of the centre console, but for some reason our Samsung phone became hot after a while and we were forced to remove it.

The arrival of the Ioniq coincided with a busy week for the Riley clan and 1250km later we were getting 4.2L/100km, with a low of 3.9 after a long run down the motorway.

The cool, twin-pane liftback hides a good-sized cargo area with a full-sized alloy spare.

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What we like?

  • Practical liftback
  • Quiet inside
  • Super low fuel consumption
  • Gear change paddles
  • Five couynt for oine touch blinkers

What we don’t like?

  • Limited turning circle
  • Foot operated parking brake
  • Flakey DAB reception
  • No head-up display
  • Satellite navigation hard to follow

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The bottom line?

Hyundai’s hybrid Ioniq is surprisingly good. It’s also available in electric and plug-in hybrid form, but for our money the standard hybrid is the most accessible of the three and offers immediate benefits with ultra low fuel consumption.

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Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 Hybrid Premium, priced from $38,990
  • 7.5/10
    Looks - 7.5/10
  • 7.5/10
    Performance - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Safety - 8/10
  • 8.5/10
    Thirst - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 7.5/10
    Comfort - 7.5/10
  • 8/10
    Tech - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Value - 8/10
7.9/10

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.