We’ve got the hybrid version of the new Hyundai Ioniq with range-topping Premium SE trim in for review. Can it match the Toyota Prius?
Hyundai has spent the last decade moving from budget maker to mainstream player, so now it’s time to throw ‘Green Car Maker’ in to the mix too with the New Hyundai Ioniq.
Not satisfied with simply delivering a hybrid Hyundai to take on cars like the Toyota Prius (let’s face it, cars which are the Toyota Prius), Hyundai has gone overboard with the new Ioniq, delivering you whatever flavour of electrical assistance you could want with a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a pure Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV).
We haven’t had a play with the BEV Ioniq yet, and the plug-in Ioniq won’t arrive for a little while yet, but Hyundai has sent us the Ioniq Hybrid in Premium SE trim to play with.
The cheapest of the Ioniq trio, the starting price of £19,995 undercuts the Prius by £4k, and this top of the range Ioniq Hybrid Premium SE at £23,595 costs (just) less than the entry-level Prius.
But is Hyundai’s plan to just beat the Prius on price, or is the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid a match for Japan’s default hybrid so beloved by every green statement loving celeb?
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Premium SE Inside and Out
We’re convinced Toyota perseveres with the Prius because it makes a statement, and we’re a bit surprised Hyundai has chosen to mark out the Ioniq as a ‘Green’ option instead of offering the choice of hybrid in, say, the i30.
But unlike the Toyota, which is a rather bonkers, standout design, the Ioniq is more mainstream to look at and could be a regular ICE powered family hatch if you didn’t know better.
Yes, there are eco clues in the overall shape: the split back window with its aero spoiler, coupe roofline and the bits of blue abounding – and the 17″ alloys have bits of plastic on them to make them more ‘aero’ – but it’s a modern look which doesn’t necessarily yell ‘I’m ‘Green’ and you need to know it’.
As is Hyundai’s wont, their interiors are not inspiring but are well made and well thought out, and the Ioniq is no different.
All the plastic you touch feels good (although you can dig deeper to find the cheap scratchy stuff), there’s an 8″ infotainment touchscreen with Sat Nav, heated and ventilated leather seats, 7″ driver’s TFT screen, electric memory driver’s seat, wireless phone charging, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Room in the back is pretty good, although a bit tight on headroom for the tallest, the boot’s a good ‘un too, even if you have to hike stuff over a bit of a lip, and there’s a couple of Isofix points for kiddlywinks.
In fact, in this Premium SE spec, there’s very little to want for, it’s well packaged and practical and really rather difficult to find fault with. The worst we can say is it’s all very mainstream and very normal.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Performance on the Road
Under the skin, this Ioniq hybrid comes with Hyundai’s 1.6 GDI petrol engine producing 106bhp and an electric motor good for another 43bhp – for a total usable power output of 139bhp.
Crucially, the electric motor’s 125lb/ft of torque is available from rest, so the Ioniq does feel lively to drive, but its forte is really around town performance where it’s quiet and refined. Push it hard on a back road and it does get a bit noisy.
But despite a bit of noise from the engine, and steering which doesn’t tell you a great deal, the Ioniq is really quite chuckable, happy to oblige if you’re fed up with being green and want to play, with the suspension coping well and the dynamics benefiting from the Ioniq’s well-trimmed weight.
What is a delight for a hybrid is a proper six-speed auto gearbox instead of a CVT, and the Ioniq does deal with the mix of ICE and electric very well (although we did struggle to use it much in pure EV mode) and the brakes work well even if there is the occasional jerkiness.
Hyundai hasn’t skimped on modern safety stuff either, with the Ioniq coming with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Hill Start and TPMS
Really, the fact that this is a hybrid Ioniq is almost irrelevant. It’s just a decent family hatchback; well-made, easy to drive, comfortable, practical and pretty economical.
We managed to get 49.6 mpg, although we’d expect owners would average nearer 60 mpg if they were being careful. Which is at least as good as you’d get out of a comparable diesel-engined car, with the added advantage that you’ll have NOx emissions which hardly register.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Premium SE Verdict
We really weren’t sure what to make of the Ioniq before it arrived; after all, haven’t we got past the point where ‘Green’ cars need to be standalone models to make a point?
Still, Hyundai has decided to take on the Prius with the standalone Ioniq range, but, if anything, the most impressive thing about the Ioniq is that it’s just so normal.
Yes, there are hints to its eco underpinning in its aerodynamic shape, and anyone who knows about cars will know it’s a hybrid.
But we reckon Hyundai has done enough to tempt Prius buyers to have a look, but not so much that it’ll put off those who don’t want to shout about their green-ness.
That augers well for the success of the Ionic Hybrid, because if Hyundai can get buyers through the door, then the car will do the rest.
It’s actually pretty good to drive, it’s well-equipped, well made and priced at a level which makes it a serious alternative to a diesel, and in the real world it will be as cheap to run too.
Add to that the current tide against the diesel engine, and Hyundai could well have hit the Zeitgeist jackpot with the Ioniq Hybrid.
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Premium SE Photos
Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Premium SE Tech Specs
- Engine: 1580cc, 104bhp – Electric Motor 43bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 10.8 seconds / Top Speed 115mph
- Economy: 83.1mpg – Official / 49.6mpg – Test
- Emissions: 79g/km
- Price: £23,540 / Price as tested £23,540
- Test car supplied by Hyundai UK