Hyundai’s 3-pronged electrified vehicle approach is named Ioniq; a trio of 5-door models consisting of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric choices delivering over 50mpg and beyond.
What did Hyundai just do here? Is it possible they just built a better Prius? The Ioniq has a lower starting price, returns even better mileage and offers greater passenger volume. And just as Toyota turned up the driving dynamics on the current generation Prius, Hyundai has crafted a hybrid that can be just as fun-to-drive. Having already driven the Ioniq’s corporate counterpart the Kia Niro, I had a feeling that the Ioniq was going to be good, and I was right. While the Niro is taller with a more of a small wagon stance, the Ioniq uses its traditional car design to win at the MPG game returning a whopping 58 in combined driving. The Prius checks in at 52 while the Niro’s best is 50. Using a 1.6-liter hybrid-friendly 4-cylinder gas engine, a 43 horsepower electric motor and a 6-speed dual clutch transmission, the Ioniq is a refreshing take on the genre. No whiney, fun-sapping CVT, a very effective sport mode and a focus on lightweighting creates a car that is surprisingly enjoyable. These eco-friendly Michelins are pretty capable considering, but of course have their handling limitations. Hyundai didn’t cheese out with the suspension either, using a multi-link arrangement in the rear for a heightened sense of performance. I’d describe the ride quality as firm and not very forgiving over impacts.
Items like an aluminum hood and tailgate, the deletion of the lead-acid 12V battery and the positioning of the lithium-ion polymer hybrid battery pack below the rear seat contribute to its spunky driving demeanor. And Hyundai makes the driving simple. In its default Eco mode, the Ioniq feels more like the hybrid you imagine with very deliberate takeoffs but when you want a kick in the pants just move the shifter over to Sport and that’s when the on-demand electric-assisted thrust takes full effect. Plus, the lower gears are held longer. Responses are far more immediate to the point where it truly feels sporty. And that’s it. No buttons, no other intermediate settings..Eco or Sport. So the way I’ve learned to drive the Ioniq is to shift frequently between the two as necessary…if I’m climbing hills or overtaking it’s Sport. If I’m putting around in traffic it stays in Eco; a simple way to get the Ioniq feeling you want. Total system net horsepower is 139 while the electric motor chips in with 125 pound-feet of instantaneous torque. The Ioniq drives in electric mode for longer durations and at higher speeds – up to 75mph – than I’m used to seeing. It weighs less than 3,000 pounds and is built with industry leading aerodynamics.
For $23,000 the Ioniq Blue is a real bargain. Not only are you getting the stellar gas mileage but everything you see here is standard equipment, so the feature level is quite high. Plus, there’s so much space in here both for passengers and cargo that the EPA classifies it as a large car. And when it’s in sport mode, the Ioniq is an entertaining drive.
This touchscreen infotainment system is as good as they come, with multiple hybrid screens, full smartphone integration and SiriusXM Data it embarrasses the setups in cars costing 5 times as much. The stereo is weak and when the engine is running and the road is rough it can get a bit noisy in here. The driver display is equally as impressive, especially when you consider the price point.
The rear seats are long on leg- and headroom and with a nearly flat floor, packing in 5 is certainly in play. And its 5-door design begets excellent cargo space with a deep floor and seats that split fold. If you’re into hybrid driving you’ll also be interested to learn that a key characteristic of the Ioniq is its innovative use of recycled or ecologically-sensitive materials.
Is you want more stuff than this base Ioniq blue offers, SEL and Limited trims are also available. The 2017 Ioniq Electric starts at around $30,000 while the 2018 model year will debut the plug-in hybrid. This is Hyundai at its foundational best – giving you more than you expect for less.
Copyright 2017 South Florida Reporter