Mercedes-Benz A-Class VS Hyundai Ioniq
- Ride comfort
- So-so warranty
- Okay only rear headroom
- Tight rear door apertures
- Zero tailpipe emissions
- Tight rear headroom
- Vanilla drive
Meet the world’s most aerodynamically efficient passenger car. Mercedes-Benz says the drag co-efficient for this new sedan version of its fourth-generation A-Class is the lowest ever measured for a passenger vehicle.
Which is quite a claim, but you only have to look at it to see how much work has gone into marrying good looks with slippery aero performance.
|Engine Type||1.3L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
Mercedes-Benz knows its way around a sedan, and this A-Class is a well-equipped, comfortable and efficient city-sized four-door.
But more than that, to my eyes anyway, it’s a perfect example of restrained form matching aero function with beautiful results.
Would your preference be an A-Class with a hatch or a boot? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.
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.
A global carmaker can’t hold its head up in public without a formal design strategy, and Mercedes-Benz uses ‘Sensual Purity’ as a guiding principle in developing the look and feel of its current models. It may sound airy-fairy, but I for one reckon it’s accurate in describing the A-Class sedan.
The overall form is flowing and minimalist, the major exception being a hard character line running down the side of the car from the trailing edge of the angular LED headlights and along the top of the doors to link with the tail-lights.
A rear-biased glasshouse emphasises the length of the bonnet, at the same time delivering a broad, muscular stance with short overhangs front and rear.
Ultra-fine panel gaps, careful sealing around the headlights and curved strakes either side of the bonnet keep the look clean and simple, not to mention super-slippery.
The interior has been styled to within an inch of its life, the dash dominated by the slick twin 10.25-inch widescreen ‘MBUX’ display covering instruments, ventilation, media and vehicle settings.
Five signature, turbine-style air vents (three in the centre, and one at each edge) lift the dash’s visual interest, and the quality of fit and finish is top-shelf.
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.
At a bit over 4.5m long, a fraction under 1.8m wide, and close to 1.5m tall the A-Class sedan is 130mm longer and 6.0mm higher than the hatch version.
The A-Class sedan driver is presented with the same sleek widescreen display as found in the hatch, and storage runs to two cupholders in the centre console, a lidded bin/armrest between the seats (including twin USB ports), decent door pockets with room for bottles and a medium-size glove box.
In a swap to the rear, sitting behind the driver’s seat set to my (183cm) position, I enjoyed adequate knee and headroom, although stretching up a to a straight-back position led to a scalp to headlining interface.
In the A 200 a centre fold-down armrest incorporates two cupholders, again there are generous pockets in the doors with room for bottles, and adjustable ventilation outlets are set into the back of the front centre console. Always a plus.
There are three belted positions across the rear, but the adults using them for anything other than short journeys will have to be good friends and flexible. Best for two grown-ups, and three kids will be fine.
One snag is the size of the rear door aperture. Okay for taller people on the way in, but a limb-unfolding gymnastic exercise on exit.
But of course the reason we’re all here is the boot, and the sedan’s extra length translates to an additional 60 litres of luggage space for a total cargo volume of 430 litres (VDA).
Extra space is one thing, but usability is another. The benefit of a hatch is a large opening that allows bulky stuff to find a home, and Merc has pushed the sedan’s boot aperture to just under a metre across and there’s half a metre between the base of the rear window and the lower edge of the boot lid.
That’s made a big difference and access is good, with the rear seats folding 40/20/40 to add extra flexibility and volume. There are also tie-down hooks at each corner of the floor (a luggage net is included) and a netted pocket behind the passenger side wheel tub (with 12-volt outlet).
At the time of writing Mercedes-Benz wasn’t quoting towing specifications, and don’t bother looking for a spare wheel, the tyres are run-flats.
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.
Price and features
The A-Class sedan is launching with two variants, the A 200 at $49,400, before on-road costs, and an entry-level A 180, arriving in August 2019 at $44,900.
We’ll cover active and passive safety tech in the safety section, but above and beyond that standard equipment for the A 180 runs to 17-inch alloy wheels, ‘Artico’ faux leather upholstery, the ‘MBUX’ widescreen cockpit display (two 10.25-inch digital screens), auto LED headlights and DRLs, keyless entry and start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, climate-control, sat nav, multi-function sports steering wheel, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, ‘Active Parking Assist’ (with ultrasonic proximity sensors front and rear), tinted glass, plus nine-speaker, 225W audio with digital radio, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The A200 steps up to 18-inch alloy rims, and adds a dual exhaust system, four-way electrical adjustment for the driver’s seat (with lumbar support), a folding rear armrest (with twin cupholders), adaptive high-beam assist, and a wireless device charging bay.
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.
Engine & trans
Both models are powered by the same 1.3-litre (M282) direct-injection four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine as the hatch, the A180 tuned to deliver 100kW (at 5500rpm) and 200Nm (at 1460rpm), with the A 200 bumping that up to 120kW (at 5500rpm) and 250Nm (at 1620rpm).
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.
Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle is 5.7L/100km for both models, with a CO2 emissions figure of 130g/km.
Over roughly 250km of open highway driving on the launch program the A 200’s on-board computer coughed up a figure of 6.3L/100km. So, the real-world highway cycle figure is higher than the claimed combined number. Which is a miss, but not a massive one, and fuel-efficiency is still pretty impressive.
Minimum fuel requirement is 95 RON premium unleaded, and you’ll need 43 litres of it (plus a 5.0-litre reserve) to fill the tank.
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.
Three things stand out on first meeting with the A-Class sedan – ride comfort, steering feel, and road noise, or rather the lack of it.
The ‘biggest’ compliment you can pay a small car is that it rides like a bigger one, and behind the A 200’s wheel you’d swear the wheelbase was appreciably longer than the 2.7 metres it actually measures.
Over long undulations, even higher frequency bumps and ruts, the A-Class remains stable and composed thanks to a thoroughly sorted (strut front, torsion beam rear) suspension, with beautifully progressive damping a particular highlight.
Electromechanically-assisted steering points accurately and delivers good road feel without any undue vibration. And despite the A-Class launch drive loop covering typically coarse-chip bitumen roads through rural Victoria, overall noise levels remained impressively low.
Acceleration is brisk rather than properly sharp, but in the A 200 there’s more than enough oomph to keep things on the boil for easy highway cruising and overtaking.
With maximum torque available from just above 1600rpm, and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto transmission keeping revs in the sweet spot, the A 200 breezes through the cut and thrust of city traffic, too.
Auto shifts are smooth and quick, with manual changes via the wheel-mounted paddles adding even more direct access to your ratio of choice. And the bonus is no sign of the slow-speed shuntiness sometimes exhibited by dual-clutch autos, especially in twisting, three-point parking manoeuvres.
Special call-out for the cruise control which responds to adjustments quickly (including 10km/h jumps up or down with a firm press of the thumb) and rapidly retards downhill speeds.
Several unbroken hours in the front seat couldn’t generate a twinge of discomfort, the brakes are strong, and over-shoulder visibility is marginally better than in the hatch (not that it’s a weakness in the latter).
Add the sleek and intuitive multimedia system, high-quality audio, plus excellent ergonomics and you have a neatly resolved compact sedan that’s easy to use in the city and suburbs, keeping solid road-tripping ability up its sleeve as well.
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.
Think automotive safety and Mercedes-Benz will be one of the first names to pop into your mind, and the A 180 offers in impressive suite of active features including ABS, BA, EBD, stability and traction controls, a reversing camera (with dynamic guidelines), ‘Active Brake Assist’ (Merc-speak for AEB), ‘Adaptive Brake’, ‘Attention Assist’, ‘Blind Spot Assist’, ‘Cross-wind Assist’, ‘Lane Keep Assist’, a tyre pressure warning system, the ‘Pre-Safe’ accident anticipatory system, and ‘Traffic Sign Assist’. The A 200 adds ‘Adaptive Highbeam Assist’.
If all that fails to prevent an impact you’ll be protected by nine airbags (front, pelvis and window for driver and front passenger, side airbags for rear seat occupants and a driver’s knee bag), and the ‘Active Bonnet’ automatically tilts to minimise pedestrian injuries.
The A-Class was awarded a maximum five ANCAP stars in 2018, and for smaller occupants there are three child restraint/baby capsule top tether points across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchors on the two outer positions.
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.
That lags behind the mainstream market where the majority of players are now at five years/unlimited km, with some at seven years.
On the upside, Mercedes-Benz Road Care assistance is included in the deal for three years.
Service is scheduled for 12 months/25,000km (whichever comes first) with pricing available on an ‘Up-front’ or ‘Pay-as-you-go’ basis.
Pre-payment delivers a $500 saving with the first three A-Class services set at a total of $2050, compared to $2550 PAYG. Fourth and fifth services are also available for pre-purchase.
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.