Car reviews - Hyundai - IONIQ
Choice, styling, space, practicality, ease, EV range, real-world Plug-in functionality, safety, aftersales care
Room for improvement
Too much road noise, Hybrid and Plug-in stiff ride on 17s, Hybrid’s comparative poor value compared to rivals, derivative dash design, dated styling, foot-operated park brake
Hyundai sets the people’s EV pace with the three-pronged Ioniq range
7 Dec 2018
HYUNDAI has pulled a trio of compelling low-to-zero emissions vehicles seemingly out of nowhere with the all-new Ioniq range, and in doing so, in one stroke, becomes the first car-maker in history to offer a truly affordable mid-range electric vehicle in Australia.
That’s the Ioniq Electric, but there’s also an Ioniq Plug-in and Ioniq Hybrid in descending order of electrification for those who don’t want to leap headfirst into a fossil-fuel-free future.
And, so, for the accessibility, choice, packaging, driveability and ease that these important new vehicles bring, bold Hyundai must be applauded.
Mark our words: this ought to be the start of the EV revolution in Australia.
When it comes to truly significant cars, history tends to wear rose-tinted glasses and gloss over the foibles, defects or annoyances that all vehicles invariably possess.
It’s with this sense of perspective that we ought to assess the Hyundai Ioniq, because it may become the turning point in the history of electric vehicles (EVs) in Australia.
Flawed pioneers like the first Nissan Leaf have come and gone, but the Ioniq Electric seems to have everything in place to really make a difference.
We’re beginning at the top because the Ioniq Electric really is an impressive piece of kit.
Looking at the broader Ioniq range, Hyundai clearly followed the sleek liftback look of the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight in the name of aero efficiency, but the newcomer has an attractive and well-proportioned look all its own too, with just enough standout brashness to let your neighbours know how concerned you are for the environment.
However, only the former’s interior is anything worth showing off, since its futuristic instrumentation and raised lever-less push-button lower-centre bisecting console bring any real sense of EV occasion to an otherwise everyday Elantra-esque dashboard design and layout.
Anyway, other issues abound such as all three Ioniqs suffering from too much road-noise intrusion as well as an at-times stiff ride.
Where the trio of Ioniqs truly diverge is in their performance, though again, the Electric is the star, bringing a strong and seamless whoosh of near-silent, torque-filled acceleration that is the party trick of most good EVs and, without an internal combustion engine to lug around, it also feels the most planted when zig-zagging about.
From $45K for the well-specified Elite and a keen $49K for the loaded Premium, the Ioniq Electric represents outstanding value, given its range and refinement.
After the Ioniq Electric, the Plug-in seems a little superfluous, though it does offer considerably better range as a result of that unique 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine kicking in after 60km or so.
Furthermore, the latter’s mechanical transition from EV to fossil burner is impressively seamless, and obviously allows for many hundreds of kilometres of rural driving range in a manner that no EV currently can match.
The same also applies to the Hybrid, despite its $34K opener undercutting the base Prius in which it aligns with from a powertrain point of view, from our experience the Toyota feels quieter, higher quality inside and much more progressive in its interior design (though whether you can stomach the Japanese car’s challenging exterior detailing might be another matter).
Overall, then, what we’re saying is that the Ioniq Electric exceeds expectations on a number of levels while the Plug-in and Hybrid suffer from refinement and value-perception issues.
A brilliant achievement, it doesn’t even have that many sore points when historians look back at this crucial point of change.
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