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Hyundai Ioniq claims land speed record for hybrid

Toyota Prius-rivalling Hyundai cracks 250km/h at Bonneville, but Volkswagen’s Jetta has gone faster…

Hyundai has taken the covers off a one-off version of its forthcoming Ioniq hybrid that’s set an official new land speed record for the category – though Volkswagen can argue that it still holds the outright top speed gong.

The FIA-approved production-based hybrid vehicle land speed record of 157.825mph (254km/h) was posted by a tweaked version of the Ioniq in September at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats, with a peak exit speed of 160.7mph (258.6km/h).

However, Volkswagen set a speed of 185.394 mph (298.363 km/h) in a similarly modified Jetta hybrid in August 2012.

The fastest speed ever recorded at Bonneville is 1001km/h, set in 1970 by American Gary Gabelich in the rocket powered Blue Flame. An electric-powered car achieved 495km/h in 2010.

Even the panel gaps were taped over for the run.

Hyundai’s effort involved officials from the FIA, the world motorsport governing body, who supervised the creation of a 12-mile (15km) long track, verified that the Ioniq was built within regulations and supervised the record-breaking run. 

The Ioniq needed to complete two runs within an hour down and back up the course to qualify for the record.

The Volkswagen effort was conducted under the auspices of the Southern California Timing Association’s (SCTA), during its 2012 Speed Week event.

Hyundai USA extensively modified the Ioniq’s driveline with a nitrous oxide system, recalibrated engine and gearbox computers, a high-flow exhaust (which still used a catalytic convertor) and the removal of air conditioning and other ancillary parts from under the bonnet.

Similarly the interior was gutted to save weight, while a roll cage, race seat and six-point harnesses were added.

On the outside, Hyundai deleted the door mirrors, lowered the car with coil-over suspension, added a small chin spoiler and distinctive ‘moon’ discs over the wheels to minimise drag. Even the panel gaps were taped over for the run.

The actual mechanical specs of the record-setting car weren’t revealed, but the production version of the Ioniq – which is scheduled for release in Australia in 2017 – uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine in conjunction with an electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.

It’ll produce 104kW and 265Nm, and is set to return a fuel economy figure as low as 3.4 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Backed by a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the Ioniq is likely to be offered in both standard petrol/electric hybrid and plug-in petrol/electric forms in Australia.

The plug-in version is expected to be able to travel 50km on battery power alone.

The Bonneville record-setting machine will be on display at the SEMA modified vehicle show in Las Vegas this week.

Does the notion of a hybrid Hyundai interest you? Tell us what you think in the comments below.