A New Hope
The transport secretary Chris Grayling has said drivers considering buying diesel cars should take a “long, hard think”. The government is considering a scrappage scheme for older diesel cars, due to concerns over nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from diesel vehicles, which have been raised in recent years. When I started writing car reviews 25 years ago, almost all company cars were petrol powered. Fast-Forward too the early 2000’s & the pendulum had swung in favour of diesels. Perhaps things are moving back towards petrol again, as the car manufacturers are producing smaller, more powerful & frugal petrol engines & some car brands, notably Toyota, have been moving their car ranges forward under the “Hybrid” banner.
The latest new hybrid-on-the-block is the Hyundai IONIQ, which Hyundai claim is a game-changer, as the IONIQ is the first model to offer three electrified powertrains on one platform. Hybrid, electric & plug-in hybrid, giving customers unrivalled choice thanks to Hyundai’s completely electrified portfolio.
The IONIQ Hybrid range is also attractively priced, with the SE 1.6 GD costing just £19,995, undercutting the equivalent Prius by almost £4000. The low price though, belies it’s high equipment list, which includes standard features such as 15” alloys, DAB with Bluetooth, Cruise Control & Rear Parking Sensors with Rear View Camera. Safety features include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) and individual Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
IONIQ Hybrid Premium 1.6 GDi, from £21,795, provides additional equipment over the SE, including keyless entry with push button start, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED rear combination lamps & a driver’s supervision instrument cluster with 7” LCD display. Integrated satellite navigation with TomTom Live services, an Infinity audio system with Android Auto / Apple CarPlay and Wireless Phone Charging (where supported) also feature as standard.
From £23,595, IONIQ Hybrid Premium SE 1.6 GDi models benefit from enhanced comfort equipment such as leather seats with heated/ventilated front seats & heated outer rear seats, heated leather steering wheel & a driver power seat with Integrated Memory System. Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Front Parking Assist & optional 17” alloy wheels round off this range topping trim.
Highly aerodynamic, all IONIQ models feature an airflow- optimised fastback body that slips through the air thanks to a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.24. Inside, the IONIQ features the very latest connectivity systems – including Apple CarPlay & wireless phone charging – while safety features include the very last active safety systems. Thanks to an aluminium bonnet & tailgate, the IONIQ Hybrid is 60kg lighter than the similarly sized i30 hatchback. Compactly packaging the car’s batteries under the rear seats means the IONIQ has a 443-litre boot, some 100 litres bigger than Toyota’s Prius.
I tested the IONIQ PREMIUM SE 1.6 GDI with the addition of 17” wheels. Looks wise, the IONIQ bears some resemblance to Hyundais own i40, with a sloping roof line, high rear end with a low front end. The rear screen is split in two by a dividing bar, which does hinder rear visibility. Climb aboard & you’ll notice a far more conventional dash board than in the space-age Prius. The IONIQ’s green credentials are enhanced with some of the plastic panels inside being made from environmentally friendly wood & rock powder. The quality of the fixtures & fittings, as in all of the latest Hyundai’s is pretty good. The digital dials & instrumentation are nicely finished & easy to see. The centrally located 8″ touchscreen on my Premium spec test car was very easy to use. I connected my iPhone to Apple Car Play, utilised the Bluetooth function for hands-free calls & listened to my favourite DAB station, all in the course of a 100 mile round motorway trip. The SatNav system is also excellent in the IONIQ. For those of you who like buttons more than a touchscreen, Hyundai have kept a row of shortcut buttons underneath the screen to help you access the main functions as well.
On the road, the IONIQ uses a dual-clutch automatic gear box, which means that you get less of the groan when accelerating than with the Toyota Prius CVT box. Handling is acceptable. I felt that the IONIQ, which shares many of the underpinnings of it’s sister brand KIA’s hybrid the Niro, drives better than the KIA. Acceleration is adequate, 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds. The IONIQ switches between petrol & electric power in smooth fashion & it’s quiet in Hybrid mode. Driving on wet roads , including the motorway, I found the cabin quite noisy though, with the hatchback design the culprit, as there’s no way of closing off noise from the boot, which is only protected by a thin sliding cover.
Sit up front & there’s a real feeling of space. The electrically adjustable, heated, leather seats in my test model made it easy to get comfortable. The heated leather steering wheel was a bonus That I enjoyed on a cold February morning. In the rear, the sloping roof-line, which give the exterior a touch of class, will hinder taller rear passengers but, there is plenty of leg room, even for the centrally seated rear passenger. Because the car’s batteries are located under the rear seats, the 443-litre boot is quite shallow. The flat floor also hides a spare wheel, but there’s a lack of insulation in there to keep the outside road noise at bay.
IONIQ Hybrid boasts an official combined fuel consumption of 83.1mpg & CO2 emissions of just 79g/km. In my real-world test, in which I covered 300 miles or so, the IONIQ gave me an average economy of 53.2mpg, which is more than a match for most diesels I have driven recently.
Should your fleet look at petrol hybrid ? Well, with diesel cars now seemingly being compared to Darth Vader & petrol & petrol-hybrid cars to Luke Skywalker, the addition of the IONIQ to the Hyundai model range has come just at the right time for the Korean brand. The standard hybrid IONIQ that I drove makes a compelling case for those looking for both low running costs & competitive pricing, with the Prius for example being considerably more expensive. Launched at a time when the UK government is questioning diesel & the Mayor of London wants to ban older diesel vehicles from London’s streets, the IONIQ should appeal to fleet customers who are thinking about making the switch from diesel to hybrid motoring. Hyundai’s five year manufacturer warranty makes the IONIQ’s case even stronger.
A Force Awakens 3.5/5