On the surface, there’s nothing unusual about the IONIQ. It’s a nice modern-looking and sleek coupe/hatchback with five doors, good equipment and high levels of practicality. The special features are hidden under the bonnet where there is a choice of bang-up-to-date hybrid or pure electric engines, all offering cleaner, more cost-effective motoring.
The IONIQ is all about fuel efficiency. Yes, it has a sleek five-door fastback coupe body but that’s not because it’s so sporty – it’s for aerodynamic efficiency. The low nose and square tail also help to keep air drag to a minimum. The lightweight components - including an aluminium bonnet and boot - help minimize fuel consumption without detracting from the smooth lines.
Hyundai designers have added stylish touches too, including distinctive C-shaped LED running lights and standard alloy wheels - although they are smaller in more humble versions. If you fancy a personal touch to your Ioniq, original buyers could select different colour trim details to personalise their car.
Hyundai designers have added stylish touches too.
What’s it like to drive?
The IONIQ offers a trio of electric-based engines. First, is the hybrid with an electric motor that works to help the petrol motor and vastly improves fuel consumption and emissions. There’s also a plug-in hybrid that can take short trips of up to 40 miles on full electric power or combine electric with petrol power for longer trips.
And finally, there’s a full electric IONIQ offering zero-emissions motoring with the silent power of a fully electric powertrain. It charges to 80% in just 30 minutes.
All models are easy and comfortable to drive. The electric motor complements the initial acceleration so the Ioniq feels nippy as it pulls away, smoothly and quietly. As a lightweight car it handles precisely and is fun to drive.
All models are easy and comfortable to drive.
The IONIQ is a little longer than the standard benchmark for the family hatchback class - the Ford Focus - so there’s enough space inside for tall adults in both the front and back seats. There’s also room for a third adult in the middle back seat - maybe just a small one.
That coupe-like sloping roofline and space taken up by the batteries under the back seats means some rivals have a bit more headroom in the rear. Generally, the interior of all versions feels light and airy, without providing a lot of character or premium sensations. If space is a major issue, the plug-in hybrid has the least room of the IONIQ trio.
The dark IONIQ dashboard has neat blue inserts that lift the ambience of the cabin. It seems cool and modern. The rest of the interior trim is reassuringly conventional, despite all that alternative technology under the skin. While the auto technology underneath is extraordinary, the cabin is unremarkable yet straightforward to negotiate.
Equipment levels are good, with standard fitments including a leather steering wheel, Bluetooth/DAB/USB sound system and steering wheel-mounted controls. Most versions have a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen at the heart of these onboard luxuries. It will also tell you the all-important state of your battery charge. Top spec models offer connectivity with phone apps and heated steering wheels – though these can drain the batteries or lower mpgs.
The IONIQ has a large boot and the positioning of batteries means the back seats can fold flat to increase the load space impressively under that large glass tailgate. You’ll also find lots of handy cubbies throughout the cabin. The non-plug-in hybrid doesn't need space for a charging cable, the other two versions do.
Motorists who need to tow trailers or caravans have to look elsewhere – the IONIQ is deemed unsuitable for any towing operations. That sloping back looks exciting yet does restrict visibility out the back – and with no read wiper, it can be tough to see what’s behind you. Some models come with a reversing camera to help parking.
One stand-out feature on many versions is a tyre pressure monitor, allowing owners to monitor the state of individual tyres from the driver’s seat.
Running costs and reliability
The hybrids offer much improved fuel efficiency over a normal car. The full electric has to be plugged in to recharge. It offers an impressive quoted maximum range of 174 miles. You’ll get around 39 miles of pure electric driving in the plug-in hybrid, which can be topped up if you use the petrol motor at the same time. Official figures of over 250mpg give you some idea of the possibilities. It’s not just the lower fuel bills, the car will feature cheaper insurance and maintenance bills too.
What we love
There are three Hyundai IONIQ five-door hatchbacks with power systems promising a greener style of motoring. You don’t have to sacrifice looks, space or practicality though – it would be a fine car whatever the engine. It’s spacious, lively to drive and looks good, too.
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The IONIQ has some of the highest owner satisfaction ratings of any car. It’s easy to see why.It offers a pioneering choice of green engines, low running costs and great reliability– all in a practical package that looks good and drives well.
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