The future is rapidly approaching, and with it come new sources of propulsion for our vehicles. While some are looking into hydrogen fuel cell technology, the future it would seem is really in electric power – just take a look at the meteoric rise of Tesla, and the popularity of BMW’s i3 and i8. Not surprisingly, Hyundai want in on the action. To help them get a fair share of the electric pie, they’ve got the Ioniq – a hatchback that can be had in 3 flavors of varying electric efficiency; Ioniq Hybrid, Ioniq Electric, and the soon-to-be-launched Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid.
Inside, the Ioniq feels perhaps the most normal of the electrified car crew – easily mistakable for something humdrum like an Elantra. In fact you’d easily swap between the two and feel at home in either one. Materials are not exactly premium but they do a good job of disguising themselves, and the gauge cluster and infotainment interface (7.0- or 8.0-inch touch screens) look like regular, easy-to-read and use items. There’s space for 5 people in relative comfort, with optional leather upholstery and ample head room for all but the tallest passengers. Functionality isn’t compromised in the slightest with standard 60/40 split folding rear seats. Because of the Kammback hatch design, trunk space is more than generous at 26.5 cubic feet in the standard Ioniq Hybrid. The Ioniq PHEV and Electric are slightly less capacious at 23 cubic feet due to larger batteries.
Unlike the BMW i3’s radical approach to reinventing the wheel, Hyundai have endowed the Ioniq with attributes that make it feel just like a regular car to drive. Suspension is soft and cushy, and there’s mild body lean around corners. The steering is vague, but direct enough to make for easy maneuverability, and the compact dimensions make navigating parking lots at malls and schools an absolute breeze. The ride is unimpaired by the additional weight of the battery packs, which can often affect damping when fully loaded or over larger bumps.
There is a sport mode that weights up the steering a little more and gives more gas power in hybrid models. But crucially, and most combustion-like of all, brake energy recovery is minimal – meaning you can coast off the throttle without jamming your forehead into the windscreen. There is also no dedicated energy saver mode that relies on pure gasoline power.
The Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrids get a 104 horsepower, 1.6-liter gasoline engine, paired with 43hp and 60hp electric motors respectively – combined power is 139hp. The Hybrid makes do with a smaller 1.6-kWh battery pack compared to the PHEV’s 8.9-kWh version that can fully charge in just 2.5 hours with 240-volt hardware and get the PHEV an electric-only range of 31-miles. EPA highway consumption figures are at 58mpg for the hybrid, with the PHEV untested.
A California-only full-electric model boasts a 28kWh lithium-ion battery and 118hp electric motor with 218 lb-ft of torque. The EPA estimates a 124-mile all-electric range. 80% charge can be acquired in 24 minutes with a DC fast charging station.
In typical Hyundai fashion, the Ioniq doesn’t skimp on equipment. A standard 7-inch touch screen can be opted to 8-inches, and all models get dual-zone climate control. Leather upholstery and heated seats can be optioned, as can a sunroof and wireless phone charging. Safety includes a standard driver’s blind spot mirror and rear view camera, with optional blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert. Autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are all optional. The Ioniq is yet to be crash tested by US authorities, but scores 5-stars in Euro NCAP testing.
The Ioniq is a more mainstream approach to hybrid and electric mobility. The pure-electric range may fall short of the Chevrolet Bolt, but the hybrid options both offer excellent economy. Importantly, the Ioniq is cheaper than its key rival, the Toyota Prius, but equally as efficient.