Hyundai Ioniq plug-in review: petrol is only for special occasions
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Hyundai Ioniq PHEV Series II
Hybrids and EVs are here to stay, so manufacturers are investing millions into making these battery-equipped vehicles better than their fossil fuel-burning counterparts.
If we wound back the clock to the year I was born, 1997, Toyota was just about to pull the covers off the very first Prius. This was the world’s first mass-produced hybrid and managed to pull off a combined fuel economy of 5.1l/100km from a 1.5-litre electric-assisted engine.
From the perspective of the present day it’s obvious that EV technology has progressed immensely, but just how do hybrids of modern times stack up against the Japanese pioneer?
We’re driving Hyundai’s updated Ioniq, a car that comes with three powertrain options: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric. Ours is the middle one: the PHEV.
Petrol is almost an afterthought when it comes to the Ioniq PHEV; the efficiency is simply astounding.
Under the bonnet sits a 1.6-litre petrol engine that makes 77kW/147Nm. This is paired with a 44.5kW/170Nm electric motor, courtesy of the 8.9kWh battery.
During our time with the Ioniq, which included a couple of hefty road trips, we saw an average economy of 1.0l/100km, which is right in line with the official figure of 1.1l/100km.
This figure makes sense when you consider that the PHEV is designed to run on EV power predominantly (official range 52km), and will only flick to petrol power when the battery gets low.
On top of this, as long as the battery is well-charged, the Ioniq will comfortably cruise at 100km/h on EV power alone.
On the open road, the Ioniq’s adaptive cruise control works extremely well, but when you get into tighter traffic situations, it seems to run into some self-doubt. It’s one of the more sensitive ACC systems on the market, and will sometimes hit the brakes if it detects a stationary vehicle in another lane.
The Ioniq PHEV does a good job at bridging the gap between petrol-powered motoring and pure electric, but it definitely feels more at home on the commute.
On the inside, Hyundai hasn’t gone overboard on the luxuries, but the Ioniq is a pleasant place to be. There are cloth seats and hard plastics, but everything is very-driver friendly.
There are a range of controls on the sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, while the air conditioning is adjusted on a touchscreen panel below the infotainment system display. This measures 10.25-inches and contains Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
As a whole, this updated Ioniq PHEV feels like a no-frills way to get into plug-in hybrid motoring, with a $53,990 starting price. Above all else, you feel like you’re paying for the excellent powertrain. When it comes to commuting duties, it could be worth looking at the electric Ioniq, although a steeper starting point of $65,990 may put potential buyers off.
For candidates worth looking at in the PHEV sphere, Toyota’s Prius Prime is the main pick, starting at $46,990. If you’re looking to fork out a bit more cash for niceties, the Mini Cooper S E Countryman is an option for $59,990, as is the plug-in Audi A3 e-tron for $71,500.