Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 20, 2017
KELOWNA, British Columbia - Hyundai has entered the fray with a new five-door hatchback, the Ioniq (Ion + Unique = Ioniq), claiming to be the world’s first vehicle to offer three electric powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric, giving customers a choice of electrification to fit their lifestyle.
The Ioniq certainly offers a wide portfolio to suit the tastes of many, but it’s stepping into deep waters currently dominated by two key pioneers: the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf (and to a lesser extent the Chevrolet Volt, Volkswagen e-Golf, and Kia Soul EV), of which they take a huge share of the hybrid hatchback market.
The new Ioniq does present a few tricks and advantages up its sleeve though, aside from its wide CV. The hybrid and plug-in Ioniqs are equipped with a 6-speed dual clutch transmission rather than the rubberband CVTs found in the Prius and Leaf. That means less droning and more concise power delivery. The Ioniq is arguably better looking too, with a sleek roofline and Elantra-like proportions, proving this segment is no longer the bleak and bland design cohort that it was once associated with.
You see, Hyundai wanted to create a sportier and more conventional alternative to the Prius, to prove to the world that “eco” does not equal “boring” – did the flat bottom steering wheel not give it away? So they flew us all the way to snowy British Columbia so we could test drive the Hybrid and Electric variants of the Ioniq – the Plug-in Hybrid was unavailable at the time due to its late 2017 production schedule.
While the snowy weather conditions were far from ideal, we were able to get some decent first impressions of the Ioniq. We hopped into a bright orange Hybrid first, and slid away towards the many wineries that engulf the west coast.
The Ioniq Hybrid is a spritely little hatch. It combines power from a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine with a small electric motor powered by a lithium-ion battery. The powertrain is mated to a class-exclusive six-speed dual clutch transmission driving the front two wheels, with a total net output of 139 hp and 195 lb-ft. The hybrid does not have a socket for charging, but with the gasoline engine it does have a total estimated driving range of 1,094 km.
The first thing we noticed driving the Hybrid was how quiet it was. Road noise was primarily absent even at triple digit speeds, and the cabin was free from rattles or scuttle shakes thanks to a rigid structure. The only noise seeping in was the Michelin X-Ice Xi3 tires rolling against the snowy pavement (these aren’t standard tires but were equipped to deal with the falling white powder).
The powertrain is smooth – the switch between gas and electric is seamless and largely goes unnoticed, though the 1.6-litre makes its presence well known when revved up. The dual-clutch transmission is a breath of fresh air from the droning and buzzing of CVT world in Japtown. While it may be marginally less fuel efficient, power delivery is more concise and progressive, and you can choose to pilot the gears yourself by pushing the gear lever to the left.
This also engages Sport Mode, remapping the transmission to delay shifts, increasing the steering ratio and responsiveness, and changing the digital instrument cluster to a sportier theme. The electric motor also provides a little bit of extra assistance, making the Ioniq feel livelier.
The Hybrid has more than enough power to get up and go without any hiccups at city speeds. Running around on the highways at triple digits does need a little more pedal to the metal, and I do feel like adding in paddle shifters would have supplemented the sporty experience.
The ride is quite settled and compliant. The Ioniq doesn’t feel as planted or as reassuring as the Prius, but the former delivers better body control and it handles surprisingly well on low-grip switchback roads. We even had the opportunity to test the Hybrid on a dynamics course, and while we did find the steering void of feedback, and the eco-tires more slip than bite, the Ioniq’s rigid chassis and low center of gravity made it more fun to flung around than the subdued Prius.
Hyundai has done a phenomenal job cleaning up the interior, and though the materials aren’t of the highest quality, they are made from eco-friendly and recyclable sources. It also matters where it counts – soft leather on the gear shifter and steering wheel, without the obligatory futuristic vibe emanating from every panel and gauge.
The layout is smart and easy to use, and more habitual than those offered by its competitors. The infotainment unit is logical, offers large buttons and fonts, and also comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
There’s ample space for storage with a clever elongated tablet holder in the center console, a large glovebox, and an accessible wireless charging pad under the center stack. Due to the slippery roofline, rear seat headroom does suffer slightly. Anyone under six feet tall will find it more than acceptable. Visibility is good from all sides, even though there’s a large dividing spoiler separating the rear screen – luckily a rear view camera is standard equipment.
While we didn’t have a chance to test drive the Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, what we do know is that it comes with a socket for external charging, and a more powerful electric motor and battery than the Hybrid. That means the Plug-in can run on electricity alone for up to 40 km and once the juice runs out, it reverts to driving like the Hybrid, with the gas engine and brakes helping to regenerate the battery. The Plug-in is also mated to a six-speed dual clutch and total net output runs around 164 hp.
We were most intrigued with the Ioniq Electric however. There is no gasoline engine, just a large electric motor and a big battery, offering 118 hp and up to 200 km of range (compared to the Nissan Leaf’s 177 km and Chevrolet Bolt’s 383 km of range), charged by an external power source. The transmission is a single-speed reduction gear and it uses a torsion axle-type rear suspension instead of the MacPherson strut in the Hybrid to accommodate the bigger battery underneath the rear seats.
We hopped into a camouflaged Polar White example and set off in what Hyundai claims to be the most efficient EV on the market with a combined efficiency of 1.7 Le/100km, compared to the Chevrolet Bolt and Nissan Leaf, at 1.9 Le/100km and 2.1 Le/100km, respectively. The lack of a front grill (no engine means no cooling required), a unique wheel design, and a reconfigured center console sets it apart from the other Ioniqs.
The all-electric Ioniq was a pleasant experience. It steps off the line quickly and quietly, delivering enough juice to scamper around town without too much of a hassle. Acceleration isn’t neck-snapping quick but its instantaneous power delivery is predictable and rewarding.
While most EVs have springy and spongy brakes that are busy harvesting energy to recharge the battery, the Ioniq’s is relatively progressive and doesn’t feel like you are stepping on a piece of memory foam. The Ioniq also has one of the most aggressive regenerating braking systems as well, with four different levels of braking controlled via the paddle “shifters”. However, like the Tesla Model S, anything but the first two levels cause your passengers to lunge forward as the car settles from the rolling inertia.
An admirable feature was the Ioniq's sincere range estimate. We set off with a half-charged battery and the computers showed us a range of 109 km. Lo and behold 50 kms later and with a fair bit of spirited driving mixed in the loop, the range had exactly 59 km left. Keep in mind that our heaters, heated seats, and heated steering wheel were on full blast. Range anxiety, move aside.
In comparison, when our BMW 330e showed us a full range of 25 km, we would only make it around 15 kms before the battery needed recharging. Hyundai further claims that it will take 24 hours for a full charge with a standard household 120 V outlet, 4.5 hours with a 240V outlet, and a mere 30 minutes with a Level 3 450V outlet.
It was an eye-opening experience, being able to drive a car with two different electric powertrains back-to-back. Hyundai predicts that the Hybrid will likely be the volume seller, and while exact prices have yet to be announced, they ball parked it to be around $24,000 for the cheapest Ioniq Hybrid Blue model, loaded with standard heated front seats, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth audio, rear view camera, keyless entry, and cruise control.
Make your way up to the SE trim (price TBD) for a sunroof, power adjustable driver’s seat, blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, heated rear seats, push button ignition, LED head- and tail-lights, and unique 15-inch wheels.
The Limited Trim (price TBD) adds on leather seating surfaces, wireless phone charging, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, autonomous emergency braking, 17-inch wheels, and chrome accents. The top-of-the-line Limited w/ Tech model (estimated $33,000) adds on HID headlights, high beam assist, an 8-inch touchscreen nav system, an 8-speaker Infinity audio system, a 7-inch LCD instrument cluster display, and rear console air vents. The Ioniq Hybrid does not get any government rebates in Ontario, but is aggressively priced against the Toyota Prius, which ranges from $27,190 to $32,500.
The Ioniq Electric is however eligible for $14,000 in rebates in Ontario. The entry SE model for the Electric starts at an estimated $35,000 (before rebates) and the more expensive Limited trim (estimated $42,000) offers every other option on the book. In comparison, the Nissan Leaf costs from $33,998 to $40,548, and the Chevrolet Bolt starts at $42,495 and goes up to $47,795.
The Hyundai Ioniq proves itself to be a compelling and sporty alternative to the Prius for those looking for low running costs and emission-free driving. The Ioniq is not groundbreaking news, nor does it have enough range to set itself apart from its rivals, but with a trio of powertrains for anyone seeking an alternative fuel source, a predictable transmission and a sporty drive, the Ioniq marks a bold entrance into an audaciously progressive market.
Photo Gallery (Hybrid):
Photo Gallery (Electric):
型号 Model: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
顏色 Paint Type: Phoenix Orange
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $24,000 (estimated)
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,700
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,470 / 1,820 / 1,445
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,477
引擎 Engine: 1.6-litre four cylinder + 32 kW electric motor + lithium ion battery (1.56 kWh)
最大馬力 Horsepower: 139 hp (total system output)
最高扭力 Torque: 195 lb-ft (total system output)
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed dual clutch transmission
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 5.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Michelin X-Ice Xi3