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Hyundai Ioniq My18 1001×565 (1)

Hyundai Ioniq Road Test: A Genuine Challenger to the Prius?

Hybrids. When the word ‘hybrid’ is mentioned, two things usually come to mind: Trying to save the planet and the Toyota Prius. It’s one of those things, such as instead of using a vacuum cleaner, you use a Hoover. Instead of a cheap plastic disposable ballpoint; you use a biro. And if you want an economic vehicle that gives you a great return on your investment at the pumps, you get yourself a Prius.

Much like the Ford Transit went without any major competition for years, the Prius now has a contender for number one in the eco-friendly hybrid battle. And that comes from Toyota’s Korean neighbours Hyundai.

Hybrid, as it turns out, seems to be a dirty word. It seems that driving a Prius has become associated with pretentious eco drivers and seems to scream “I’m saving the planet”. Formula One cars now use hybrids and LMP1 racers have used them for years. There’s a stigma to them, but as you’ll find out by the end of this piece, it’s not as bad as people think.

The Hyundai Ioniq is Hyundai’s attempt at a cost-effective hybrid vehicle, and with prices starting at around £23,000 for the top of the range Ioniq, it’s around a thousand pounds cheaper than the equivalent Prius. This blog entry won’t just give you an idea of what the Ioniq is about, but we can actually tell you what one is like to live with. Because we have one. Hyundai also offers this vehicle as a plug in hybrid and full electric, but we are looking at the standard hybrid today.

We recently took our Ioniq on a trip down to High Wycombe, testing the car out on motorways, tight town streets and A Roads, and how the car managed to handle myself and my two passengers.

Firstly, the Ioniq has much more boot space than its rival. This being due to the Ioniq having the hybrid batteries under the rear seats instead of the boot. This managed to get everything we needed for our overnight trip to Wycombe with plenty of room to spare. While not as big as any SUVs on the market, our Chocolate Lab fits in no problem for his trips to the Vee Eee Tee. If we were to compare it to anything else on the market, it’s safe to say that the car is Ford Focus sized, with the boot space marginally smaller than the Mondeo.

All loaded up, it was time to get on the road. In town, you’ll probably be running mainly on the electric motor. Unlike other hybrids such as the Auris Hybrid for instance, the Ioniq can run on its electric motor more often. It’s all about keeping it in what we call ‘the bubble’: You can accelerate up to thirty in town, lift off the accelerator to drop it into EV mode, and gently reapply power to keep it on EV mode.

Once on the M6, we took advantage of the Ioniq’s Sport Mode. When in drive, simply flick the drive selector to the S position and you’ll unleash the full beast. With the combined power of the batteries and the 1.6 petrol engine, the Ioniq can leave roundabouts at light speed and you’ll be able to see drivers behind you in the rear view mirror have a look of interest as they think to themselves “wow! What was that!”. As the car accelerates, the dual clutch automatic gearbox shifts seemlessly through the gears, compared to the continuously variable transmission of its rival. The Premium SE Ioniq, the top of the range model, has paddle shifters to allow the driver to shift at will. It’s not like the system you’ll find in something like a Ferrari or a Lambo and is largely useless in something like this. But it does make you feel like Lewis Hamilton for about thirty seconds before the novelty wears off.

Sport mode is great for delivering power when you absolutely need it: Getting round tractors, that sort of thing. But even in normal mode there is still plenty of power available. 140 horsepower to be precise. 0-60 takes 10.3s and 50-70 takes no time at all. Even from 50-70 you’re thrown back into your seat from the 270nm of torque. Put into perspective, the Prius, which has a 1.8 litre CVT hybrid system, produces 142nm of torque. All this torque, and the standard gadgets have earned our Ioniq the name Millennium Falcon.

You might think then, all that power and extra horsepower will come at a price in terms of the fuel economy. Like previously stated, get the car into ‘the bubble’ and you can get 60+mpg without breaking a sweat. We’ve managed to get 83mpg on a trip to Long Marston, which also used motorway, A roads and driving straight through the middle of Stratford Upon Avon. It has to be said though, that if you have one of these brand new, it will take around 1500-2000 miles for the onboard computers to calibrate properly, but 60 to the gallon is still achievable. At current petrol prices (December 2018), it costs roughly £43 to fill to the top from the red line, and we’ve managed to get 700 miles from one tank.

Because you have batteries delivering power as well as the 1.6 litre engine, torque is instantaneous as opposed to hitting the sweet spot in the engine. In normal driving mode, putting your foot down results in a bit of a delay, as if the Ioniq is asking you ‘Are you sure, sir?’ before continuing.

Motorway cruising in the top of the range Ioniq is made stress free due to the myriad of driver assistance gadgets on board. Even the mid-range Premium Model, which we had previously, has radar-guided cruise control and lane keeping assist, meaning that the car effectively drives itself. But it must be said, of course, that you still need to concentrate on what’s going on around you. These features were invaluable on the way back, as it was night time and raining cats and dogs. Cruise set to 60mph, lane keeper on, Liverpool v Man United on the DAB Radio, dual zone air con set just right, and just concentrate on getting home. It’s refined, comfortable and at the other end, I was not tired. My rear passanger, who is six feet tall, had no issue sitting in the back for the two and a bit hours we were travelling.

Speaking of the radio, the 8 speaker system in the Ioniq was crystal clear, even with some low quality MP3s played off an iPhone. On the DAB the football was a joy to listen to, and you can hear every instrument on the Eagles album I played.

But with every good thing comes a bad thing of course. The only real complaint we have about the Ioniq is the rear spoiler is in the middle of the rear window, which can be an awkward thing to get used to. The Ioniq also does not have a rear wiper, due to the way the rear end of the car is designed for aerodynamics. The aforementioned flappy paddle gearbox has pretty much no use in something desgined to be super economical, and on occasion flicking the indicator stalk has turned on the bi-xenon headlights to full beam, drawing irritated honks from other road users.

It’s also not as well made as the Prius, but Hyundai has never been a premium brand. However, Hyundai has become a brand that people actually want to buy now, and their other vehicles such as the Tucson have grown so much in quality over the years. Like their sister brand Kia, who also have the hybrid Niro (using the same powerplant as it so happens), Hyundai actually has the goods to really take it to Toyota. We love how much mileage we can do and it has turned into a game in our office. How high can we get it? And we’ve changed our driving styles as a result.

If you would like to learn more, then please give us a call on 0121 7961930.