Hyundai Ioniq VS Abarth 595
- Zero tailpipe emissions
- Tight rear headroom
- Vanilla drive
- Good engine/chassis combo
- Surprising grip levels
- Terrible driving position
- Ride not great around town
- No reversing camera
Hats off to Hyundai Australia for offering a mainstream model covering the gamete of petrol-electric hybrid and full zero (tailpipe) emissions powertrain options. Power walking the walk while other new car brands are still just talking the EV talk.
Then, because Australia was late to the Ioniq party, what felt like five minutes later (actually 12 months) a new and improved version took its place.
With revised design inside and out, upgraded tech, and a bigger battery, this Electric model is pricier, but even at around $50K remains at the affordable end of the expanding EV market.
So, still not cheap, but within the bounds of possibility for a family willing and able to pay extra to reduce its carbon footprint and leave fossil fuels behind.
We spent a week in the top-spec Premium model to experience electric mobility Hyundai Ioniq style.
Since 1949, Abarth has been giving the venerable Italian brand, Fiat, a patina of performance, based largely on giant-killing feats in small modified cars like the Fiat 600 of the 1960s.
More recently, the brand has been revived to boost the fortunes of the smallest Fiat on sale in Australia. Known formally as the Abarth 595, the tiny hatch packs a bit of a surprise under its distinctive snout.
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
In the Ioniq Electric Premium, Hyundai has put together an impressive small hatch EV. Expensive by conventional standards, it’s one of the more affordable electric vehicles on the market. Comfortable, quick, well equipped, and practical it’s bringing zero tailpipe emissions closer to the masses.
It’s tough to be kind to the Abarth 595. Based on a platform that’s more than a decade old, the car has been left behind by its rivals in many ways, including basic ergonomics and its value equation.
The larger engine does work well in this smaller package, and its road-holding ability belies its size. However, only die-hard fans of the Abarth brand will be able to cope with the uncomfortable seating position and a complete lack of even the most perfunctory features that cars costing $10,000 less are able to offer.
Could you look past the Abarth 595's foibles? Let us know in the comments below.
The updated Ioniq has been given a visual tszuj, but key external dimensions are unchanged. The sloping, fastback profile is the same, the nose now sporting a satin grey grille insert with active shutters either side of the centre logo. The aim is to provide extra cooling to the motor when required, maintaining the best possible aero profile at other times.
LED daytime running lights are integrated into angular nose vents designed to create a wind-cheating ‘air curtain’ around the front wheels, and the 16-inch alloy rims have been “aerodynamically sculpted” to further optimise the car’s aerodynamics.
Combination LED tail-lights add some extra drama at the rear, with the bumper now featuring a matt grey insert to match the nose treatment.
Inside, the dashboard is all new with a 10.25-inch tablet-style media screen taking centre stage. The climate control set-up has also been refreshed (with capacitive touch controls replacing buttons), sleek piano black finishes neatly integrating the two areas, and the Premium grade’s ‘leather-appointed’ seats look quality and feel good.
In terms of other materials used, there are sugar-cane bi-products (25 per cent of the raw materials used in the soft-touch door trim panels), and recycled plastic, powdered wood and volcanic stone (10 per cent of plastics on other interior surfaces). Bio-fabrics (20 per cent sugar-cane bi-products) are used in the headliner and carpet.
An interesting design tweak under the hood is the styling effort applied to the electric motor to make it look more like a conventional engine. The motor’s relatively small size is neatly camouflaged by a carefully chiselled and profiled plastic shroud placed over the top of it to cover the empty spaces below and give the impression of a longitudinally installed engine.
Despite being based on a design that’s a decade old, the Abarths still stand out. Based on the classic Fiat 500 shape of the 1950 and '60s, it’s more cute than cut-throat, with a narrow track and tall roof giving it a toy-like presence.
The Abarth attempts to beef things up with deep front and rear bumper splitters, go-fast stripes, new headlights and alternate-colour wing mirrors.
The 595 rides on 16-inch rims, while the Competizione runs 17s.
Inside, it’s definitely different to most mainstream cars, with colour-coded plastic panels on the dash and a very upright seating position, along with a dual-tone steering wheel.
It’s a love-it-or-hate-it proposition. There’s no middle ground here.
There’s plenty of room up front with storage options including a surprisingly generous glove box, and a decent centre armrest/storage box with a USB-A power outlet lurking inside. Lengthy pockets in the doors incorporate a large recessed bottle section.
Dual cupholders sit next to the gearshift with a Qi wireless charging bay ahead of them, while a loose items tray in front of that features two 12-volt sockets and a USB-A connection/charging port to access standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. There’s also a retractable sunglass compartment in the overhead console.
Those in the back aren’t forgotten with a fold-down centre armrest incorporating a pair of cupholders, a map pocket on the back of the front passenger seat (only), and smaller door pockets will accommodate smaller bottles.
Adjustable air vents at the back of the front centre console are always welcome, but not so thrilling is the swoopy turret’s impact on rear headroom.
Sitting behind the driver’s seat set for my 183cm height I enjoyed adequate legroom, but in a normal position my noggin was in solid contact with the headliner; an issue exacerbated by the standard tilt and slide glass sunroof’s 25mm downward intrusion.
With the 60/40 split-folding rear seat upright cargo volume is 357 litres (VDA) to the top of the seats, and 462 litres to the roof. Although that’s around 20 per cent less than the Ioniq Hybrid, it’s still not too shabby, and enough to swallow our three-piece hard suitcase set (35, 68 and 105 litres), or the jumbo size CarsGuide pram. Once you’ve dropped the back seat, space opens up to a substantial 1417 litres.
Four tie-down hooks and a luggage net are included, and there’s a handy recess behind the driver’s side wheel tub.
Don’t bother looking for a spare of any description, a repair and inflate ‘tyre mobility kit’ is your only option, and forget about hooking up the boat or van, the Ioniq is a no-tow zone.
This is another area where the Abarth falls down. First and foremost, the seating position for the driver in both cars is utterly compromised.
The seat itself is mounted far, far, too high, and has little adjustment in any direction, and there is no reach adjustment in the steering wheel column to allow a taller (or even an average height) driver to get comfortable.
The more expensive Competizione we tested was fitted with a set of optional sports bucket seats from racing company Sabelt, but even they are mounted literally 10cm too high. They are also ultra firm, and even though they look supportive, lack decent side bolster support.
The tiny multimedia screen is okay to use, but the buttons are miniscule, while there’s a complete lack of storage places in the front.
There are two cupholders under the centre console, with two more in between the front seats for rear seat passengers. There are no bottle holders in the doors and no storage for rear seaters.
Speaking of the rear seats, they are the very definition of cramped, with little headroom for moderately sized adults and precious little knee or toe room. There are two sets of ISOFIX baby seat mounting points, though, should you fancy wrestling your wriggling toddlers through the narrow aperture.
The seats flip forward to reveal more cargo space (185 litres with the seats up, and 550 litres when the seats are down), but the seat backs don’t fold flat into the floor. Under the boot floor is a can of sealant and a pump, but no space saver spare.
In truth, it was a long day testing this car… at 187cm, I simply could not get comfortable in it at all.
Price and features
A recommended retail price of $52,490 is lots for a small hatchback in this market. To put that number in perspective a top-spec Mazda3 G25 GT Astina auto hatch is $38,040, and the flagship Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid, complete with two-tone paint option is $34,085.
That said, Nissan’s zero emissions Leaf hatch sits at $49,990, the diminutive Renault Zoe hatch is $49,490, and the Tesla Model 3 starts at $67,000, running all the way up to $85,900. Even Hyundai’s own Kona Electric compact SUV lists at $59,990 for the Elite, and no less than $64,490 for the top-shelf Highlander.
So, the ‘normal’ take on value-for-money doesn’t sit at the core of the Ioniq Electric proposition, unless the value you’re looking for is environmental superpowers.
But the Ioniq Electric Premium grade doesn’t skimp on standard features, the equipment list including, alloy wheels, smart cruise control (with stop/go), rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and start, the 10.25-inch media touchscreen managing an eight-speaker Infinity audio system (with external amplifier, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth device connectivity, and sat nav with live traffic updates), climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, leather-appointed steering wheel (heated) and seats (driver’s 10-way power-adjustable with memory), a tilt and slide glass sunroof, 7.0-inch digital colour instrument display, alloy pedal covers, LED headlights (auto), DRLs and tail-lights, dashboard ambient lighting, and reversing camera (with parking guidance).
Add in the substantial suite of standard active and passive safety tech (covered in the Safety section), and the big price gap to similarly sized, conventionally-powered hatches may just be one you’re willing to stretch across.
The range has been stripped back to just two cars, and costs has come down slightly, with the 595 now starting at $26,990, plus on-road costs.
A new 5.0-inch touchscreen multimedia system (with digital radio), a leather wrapped steering wheel, TFT dash display, rear parking sensors, alloy pedals, 16-inch alloy rims, and (front-only) adaptive dampers are standard on the base 595.
A convertible, or more accurately, a rag-top (cabriolet) version of the 595 is also available for $29,990.
The 595 Competizione is now a whopping $8010 cheaper at $31,990 with a manual gearbox, leather seats (Sabelt-branded sports buckets are optional), 17-inch alloys, a louder Monza exhaust, as well as front and rear adaptive Koni shocks, and Eibach springs.
Unfortunately, what stands out more on the Abarths is what they don’t come with. Auto lights and wipers, cruise control of any sort, driver aids including AEB and adaptive cruise… even a rear view camera is missing.
What’s more puzzling is that the Abarth’s architecture, though a decade old, has provision to accept at least a rear view camera.
Abarth’s explanation that the car’s home market doesn’t see these inclusions as important doesn’t really hold water, either.
Engine & trans
This Ioniq gives the internal combustion engine the flick, with a 100kW/295Nm permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor residing under its bonnet.
An AC synchronous motor features a rotor producing a constant magnetic field, with a stator outside it generating a revolving magnetic field. The stator is ‘excited’ by an AC current supply, which produces a revolving magnetic field rotating at synchronous speed. Got it?
Management of the frequency of the electrical current means the speed of the motor can be accurately controlled, with the parallel benefit of synchronous motors producing constant speed irrespective of load.
Drive goes to the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gear auto transmission.
The Abarth 595 pair use the same 1.4-litre 'MultiJet' four-cylinder turbo engine in differing states of tune. The base car makes 107kW/206Nm, while the Competizione makes 132kW/250Nm, thanks to a freer-flowing exhaust, a larger Garrett-branded turbocharger and an ECU re-tune.
The base car can do 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds, while the Competizione is 1.2 seconds quicker; the optional 'Dualogic' automatic is 0.2sec slower to the mark in both cars.
A five-speed manual gearbox is standard, and neither car is fitted with a limited slip diff.
Rather than litres per 100km (L/100km) it’s likely we’ll all become increasingly familiar with alternate measures of a vehicle’s energy efficiency, and it feels like it’s taking a while for the world to agree on a standard measure.
According to the Australian standard combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle, the Ioniq Electric uses 117 watt hours per kilometre (Wh/km).
Which you’ll also see expressed as 15.7 kilowatt hours per 100km (kWh/100km) and 6.4 km per kilowatt hour (km/kWh). Get it together, people!
Anyway, over around 200km of city, suburban, and highway running we saw a dash-indicated average of 8.0km/kWh. Go crazy if you’d like to convert it to another format.
Quoted range is 373km according to the Australian standard, and 311km in line with the European WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) protocol, the latter widely regarded as more ‘real world’ accurate.
The battery is a 38.3kW Lithium-ion Polymer unit with a charging capacity of 100kW when using a DC fast charger. Enough to deliver an 80 percent charge in 57 minutes using a 50kW charger, and 54 minutes when connected to a full-fat 100kW charger.
Plug into a 240-volt AC socket and you’re looking at around six hours for a full charge. A perfect opportunity to use overnight, off-peak energy.
Over 150km of testing, the Competizione consumed a dash-indicated 8.7 litres per 100km, against a claimed combined fuel economy figure of 6.0L/100km. Our brief test of the 595 revealed a similar number, against the same claimed figure.
The Abarth will only accept 95 octane fuel or better, and its small 35-litre tank is good for a theoretical 583km between fills.
Like all Hyundai’s sold in Australia, the Ioniq’s suspension (MacPherson strut front / torsion beam rear) has been tuned for local conditions, and the Electric Premium rides beautifully. The seats are comfy and the car is quiet… not just because an electric motor provides the propulsion.
Despite this small car’s chunky 1575kg kerb weight it feels well buttoned down, soaking up small bumps and even bigger surface imperfections with ease.
The electrically-assisted steering points nicely with reasonable road feel, but we are not in sports car territory here. The overall driving experience is vanilla, with the only hint of exotic flavour following a press of the ‘Sport’ button.
Four drive modes - Normal, Eco, Eco+, Sport – are offered. Normal is just that, Eco is less than that, and emotionally, you’ve really got to be in full planet-saving mode to put up with the new Eco+ setting.
It optimises range by setting a 90km/h speed limit, switching off the air con, heating and fans, dialing the regenerative braking up to maximum, and sucking out your will to live.
The paddle shifters are entertaining, though. In everything but Sport mode they progressively increase (left paddle) or release (right paddle) the level of regen braking applied.
Challenge yourself to a game of ‘How little can I use the brake pedal’ for hours of fun. Pull and hold the left paddle to stop altogether without touching the brake pedal.
Switch to Sport and the same paddles control the transmission, using pre-set steps to mimic individual gear ratios.
All 295Nm of torque is available from step-off and if you experience a rush of blood and pin the throttle expect 0-100km/h to come up in around 10.0sec. The most urgent thrust is up to around 50km/h, acceleration softening off a bit from there.
If the regen braking game becomes tedious, the conventional stoppers are vented 280mm disc at the front and solid 284mm discs on the rear, which is the same as the Hybrid and Plug-in hybrid variants.
Ergonomics aside, the combination of torquey engine and lightweight car is always a good one, and the 1.4-litre turbocharged four is a good match with the front-drive Abarth.
There’s always enough mid-range urge to give the Abarth the hurry-up, and the longer-legged five-speed gearbox is a good match for the engine.
It also grips and turns surprisingly well, despite the Sport button adding too much artificial weight to the Abarth’s steering feel.
That same button also firms up the front dampers on the 595 and all four on the Competizione, which works well on smoother terrain, but stiffens it too much over more undulating surfaces.
Around town it can be hard to strike a good balance between ride and comfort. The difference between soft and firm is much more pronounced in the Competizione, but it will still get tiring if your commute is a bumpy one.
The turning circle, by the by, is ridiculously large for such a small car, making u-turns - already compromised by the lower front bumper - unnecessarily fraught.
The Monza exhaust on the Competizione gives it a bit more presence, but it could easily be louder (or at least more crackly) again; you’re not buying this car to be a wallflower, after all.
The Hyundai Ioniq picked up a maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was assessed in October, 2018, and the Electric Premium is equipped with an impressive array of active and passive safety tech, with ‘expected’ crash prevention features such as ABS, brake assist, EBD, as well as traction and stability controls present and accounted for.
On top of that, this top-spec model is fitted with ‘Hill-start Assist Control’, ‘Blind-Spot Collision Warning’, ‘Driver Attention Warning’, ‘Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist’ (city/urban/interurban/pedestrian) which is Hyundai-speak for AEB, ‘High Beam Assist’, ‘Lane Following Assist’, ‘Lane Keeping Assist – Line’, ‘Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning’ and ‘Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go.’
But wait, there’s more, including ‘Emergency Stop Signal’, ‘Parking Distance Warning’ (front and rear with four sensors at each end and a guidance display), ‘Rear View Monitor with Parking Guidance’, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.’
If, despite all of the above, a crash is unavoidable the passive safety roster includes seven airbags (driver and front passenger head and thorax bags, driver’s knee, and side curtain airbags covering both rows of seats).
There are three top tether points for securing baby capsules/child restraints across the rear seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two rear outboard positions.
Despite a lack of electronic safety aids – and, somewhat amazingly in the current age, a rear-view camera – the Fiat 500 that forms the Abarth's basis still carries the maximum five-star rating from ANCAP it was awarded in 2008, by dint of its seven airbags and bodyshell strength.
It wouldn’t have the same luck if it were judged under new ANCAP regs coming into force in 2018, though.
Hyundai’s ‘iCare’ ownership program kicks off with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, with 12 months roadside assist and a (complimentary) 1500km first service included.
The Ioniq battery warranty extends for eight years/160,000km. There’s also a dedicated Hyundai Customer Care Centre, and the 'myHyundai' owner website.
A ‘Lifetime Service Plan’ is available with recommended service intervals set at 12 months/15,000km. Service cost for the first five years for the Electric is $160 each and every year.
Continue to service the car with an authorised Hyundai dealer and you’ll receive a 10-year sat nav update plan and a roadside support plan for up to 10 years.
A three-year/150,000km warranty is offered as standard on the Abarth 595 range, with a suggested service interval of 12 months or 15,000km.
Abarth importer Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia offers three fixed-priced services for the 595 range at 15,000, 30,000 and 45,000km, with the first costing $275.06, the second $721.03 and the third $275.06.