Words: Don Cheng
Photography: Don Cheng
Published: January 29, 2018
Electric vehicles have come a long way since the original Honda Insight first hit the North American market at the turn of the millenia. As with most bleeding edge technologies, early adopters had to make a number of concessions, the first production hybrids were no exception. Trunk space in the Insight was almost non-existent, covered by the large array of batteries, an electric motor, and mechanisms to control and marry the two powertrains in unison.
Advancements in battery technology and space optimization, although helpful, can ultimately only bridge so much of this gap. The biggest drawbacks still stem from manufacturers adapting a chassis initially designed for internal combustion powertrains and transforming them into one that would fit a hybrid. That isn’t to say that automakers are not learning to cover this ground quickly though. Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture platform for example has been designed from the get-go to accommodate the battery packs in its hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) offerings.
Hyundai on the other hand has approached this engineering challenge in a rather unique fashion, choosing instead to build an electric centric chassis ready to diversify into a fully fledged product portfolio. The bar has been set by the Prius (Priuii?) family, and Hyundai hopes to wedge into Toyota’s market share by introducing an electric trio: the Ioniq Hybrid, Ioniq Electric Plus (PHEV), and Ioniq Electric (Full EV), three distinct vehicles catered towards the different needs of consumers.
Somewhere along the last fifteen years, automakers seemed to have decided on only two extremes when it comes to the aesthetics of a hybrid. Either a prop stolen from the set of Bladerunner 2049 or an attempt at invisibility through unparalleled levels of blah. With a name like Ioniq, you’d think Hyundai had opted for the former. Not so.
The Ioniq necessitates a double take or you would miss it. When you do catch a glimpse, you will notice its uncanny resemblance to a second generation Prius. Though the sedan borrows design cues from the rest of the Hyundai lineup like the Elantra, there are some interesting elements to help set it apart from others, like the hexagonal grille which features active air shutters to optimize aerodynamics. Similarities also end when you make your way around back as all three Ioniq variants utilize a hatchback design that maximizes cargo load capability.
Perhaps one of the standout points to the Ioniq’s design is its functionality. Large cubby holes and a well thought out cabin means you are never caught searching for space to store items. Hyundai even managed to even incorporate a small slot for your tablet. Further enhancing convenience is the available wireless QI charging pad located beneath the infotainment system. Furthermore, over the course of my time with the Ioniq, I had to move a number of large items between destinations. The rear hatch, though not automatic, was still a life saver in maximizing rear cargo space. Simply put, I have never driven a plug-in quite as practical or as capable as this. The hatch ate everything I threw at it, including a futon.
Fit and finish is absolutely spot on with the brand’s other offerings (Genesis not included), though I wish the materials used would be of a slightly higher quality. The textured finish on the plastics do a good job of masquerading its humble beginnings but I expect it will develop a shine on the matte surface after prolonged use, especially around the frequent touch points.
Both Hybrid and PHEV Ioniqs start with a base 1.6L Atkinson cycle four-cylinder good for 104 hp. Hybrids receive a 32 kW electric motor, while the PHEV models receive a more powerful 45 kW motor. Doing the math, that’s a combined power output of 164 horsepower, about average for compact sedans. Indeed, even with a trunk laden with stuff the car never felt slow, but never felt hastily quick either.
Drivers can choose between three different operating modes: Electric only (EV), Hybrid Electric (HEV), or Sport. Hyundai estimates 40 kms of electric-only range on a full charge, which is pretty good for a round trip on most average commutes without dipping into the tank of fossil fuels. In the real world, I observed a slightly lower EV range, though I did have the vehicle over some of the chilliest days this winter.
In Eco mode, the throttle feels lethargic, requiring more input from the driver to eek out that hustle. Tip the shifter to the left and engage sport mode and you will realize that there’s more that the car can give, and it’s limited by software calibrations designed to conserve rather than serve. On a side note, steering is beyond lifeless, dampening everything but the most jarring of potholes. Ride quality remains a notch on the firm side but maintains civility and comfort for occupants.
As tested, the Ioniq Electric Plus Limited came out to $36,499. The cheaper $31,999 SE trim already packs a lot of value including blind spot detection, lane change assist, and rear cross traffic alert. The more expensive option adds a small suite of autonomous driving features such as Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control. Coupled with an expansive and comfortable interior, and you are looking at some serious value.
Let us also not forget about Ontario’s Electric Vehicle Rebate that as of writing will net you $8,095 back on purchase. This will amount to roughly $2,300 less than the price of a fully loaded Prius (which is not eligible for any rebates). The Ioniq then hits all the right marks as a do-everything vehicle. It is far from exhilarating or “fun” but it is extremely practical, fuel efficient and competitively priced. This is a no-frills electric hatchback for the pragmatic consumer, and it delivers on all expected fronts.
型号 Model: 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Plus Limited (PHEV)
顏色 Paint Type: Platinum Silver
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $36,499
試車售價 Price as Tested: $36,499 (before incentives)
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