Toyota Prius VS Hyundai Ioniq
- Zero tailpipe emissions
- Tight rear headroom
- Vanilla drive
Tree-huggers get a bad rap, especially when they're accused of driving Priuses, a particularly targeted form of abuse inspired by the Malibu movie set. Hollywood types who stepped out of gas-guzzling private jets to tool around humbly in Toyota's trailblazing hybrid used to include dapper chaps like Clooney, Damon and di Caprio.
They must have been pleased when Tesla arrived with bigger, faster, fully electric cars. Sometimes you really need to get to your private jet in a hurry.
And I say they were pleased because driving a Prius forced these folks to consider what life would have been like had they not played that dead body on CSI, before rising through the ranks to owning chunks of a coffee-pod company and marrying lawyers who make speeches at the UN.
The Prius was a run-of-the-mill car that appealed to them only via its new hybrid technology, whicht helped assuage their guilt at burning several tonnes of avgas instead of mixing it with the general public on commercial airlines.
In 2019, Toyota has four hybrids (including a RAV4) with which to attract your attention, and one of those is the 20-year-old Prius. Still odd-looking, still a hybrid, still pretty much the same proposition as that first, nose-diving sedan all those years ago. Its own bretheren are out to consign it to irrelevance. Or is it still worth another look?
|Fuel Type||Hybrid with Regular Unleaded|
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.
Toyota Prius 7.1/10
In 2019, the Prius is a head scratcher. Toyota has the hybrid Corolla on the same TNGA platform but it's a better overall proposition, cheaper and vastly better looking. If you can find one, you can have a hybrid Camry for a similar money.
Committed EV buyers can now buy a fully electric Hyundai Ioniq for a few bucks more. It almost feels like the Prius is hanging on for the fans so it rather has the feeling of an Eagles concert... without the hits.
It's difficult to see why you wouldn't save a significant amount of money and go for a Corolla Hybrid. The ZR I drove last year was $13,000 cheaper than the Prius, and a far more satisfying drive.
With cheaper Korean options hoving into view - and Toyota's own Corolla - is the Prius' day done?
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.
My goodness this is an awkward-looking car. The Prius set the template almost two decades ago and it seemed like any hybrid, no matter where it was from, looked like Toyota's pioneer for a while.
Part of the awkwardness is a result of wind-tunnel styling to maximise the benefit of the hybrid power unit - that high, boxed-off tail makes the Prius slippery, but weird looking. The adventurous shapes of the lights front and rear really don't work (for me, anyway). The tiddly wheels amplify the slabbiness of the sides.
I say tiddly because, as you know, they're just 17-inchers. The base model Prius has a laughable set of 15s bolted on.
You know, just by looking, that this is a Prius and, by extension, a hybrid.
The interior is a bit more contemporary, but littered with cheap Toyota staples like that dodgy LCD clock that used to be in my Mum's Echo. Speaking of the Echo, Toyota has recycled and expanded on the idea of a centrally placed dashboard, all of which is digital but without the inventiveness of a German, or even a Korean car. It works really well, to be fair, but there's not much in it to amuse or delight.
The central touchscreen is nice and close and shows additional information about the hybrid-drive system. The profusion of piano black is a bit passe, though, and picks up dust and fingerprints.
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.
Passenger space in the Prius is excellent for its footprint. Slightly roomier than the Corolla, front and rear passengers have generous head and legroom, although the narrowing hips pinch the shoulders a bit with five aboard. The roofline also abbreviates headroom for anyone over about six feet. The seats are comfortable, though.
Front and rear rows are each treated to two cupholders and bottle holders, for a total of four of each. The front centre console also has a Qi wireless charging pad, as well as a deep bin under the armrest.
Boot space starts at a modest 343 litres to the parcel shelf but if you drop the rear seats, you've got a very generous 1633 litres. The lower-spec Prius has a much smaller boot (297 litres) but does have a spare tyre.
Toyota hasn't certified the Prius with a towing figure.
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 2019 Prius update is available in two specs - entry level for $36,590 and this i-Tech for a stout $44,050. For that outlay you score 17-inch alloys, a 10-speaker JBL-branded stereo, keyless entry and start, Qi wireless charging pad, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, reversing camera, electric everything (except the tailgate), fake leather trim, climate control, head-up display, sat nav and a tyre-repair kit.
Toyota's worse-than-the-final-season-of-Game-of-Thrones multimedia system soliders on. It's hard to use, terrible to look at and, even with the Kluger-style shortcut buttons, leaves me screaming, alternately, for a hug and for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
There's just no excuse for a system this bad in the modern world. Toyota Australia's stubborness is admirable, in a way. The sound is really good, though, and it comes with DAB, which is fine if you can work out how to find the station you want in the confusing user interface.
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
The 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine produces 72kW and 142Nm. Due to the vagaries of hybrid-power calculations, the combined power output is 90kW, but there is no combined torque figure. It's unlikely - given the 1400kg kerb weight - that it's only 142Nm.
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.
Official figures are always worth a chuckle, but the combined-cycle figure for a hybrid is always an interesting pointer. In the Prius, the ADR figure is 3.4L/100km. My week with the Prius in almost exclusively city driving - its natural habitat - yielded an impressive 4.3L/100km.
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.
Despite rolling on Toyota's TNGA platform, it's not a particularly interesting car to drive. As with the old Prius, there's a fair bit of body roll and not a small amount of dive under heavier braking.
Neither of these are likely to trouble you, as the underpowered nature of the Prius enforces a relaxed pace, much like the hybrid Corolla I drove last year.
The uninspiring combination of modest power outputs and a CVT transmission is a Toyota staple and never fails to set my teeth on edge.
Having said that, the Prius is very quiet and an easy place to spend the commute. Again, the target buyer isn't looking for an excitement machine - fast hybrids are vastly more expensive - this car smashes its KPIs.
Toyota's early progress has been engulfed by its competitors, however. The Prius has all the clicks and whirrs but it's still essentially the same car it always has been - press the accelerator a bit, you get a few metres of near-silent progress, then the engine kicks into life and off you go.
The whacky joystick gear selector features D position and B. Other hybrids and BEVs have what I thought was a similar feature, a separate mode to increase the aggression of the energy harvesting from braking. Not the Prius - B means braking, which you can use on a long downhill run to reduce the strain on the tiny brakes. Switching to B mode induces engine braking by lowering the gear ratio in the CVT.
And, on that point, the Prius pretty much drives like a normal car. Some hybrids use the drag of the generator to assist with braking and therefore charge the battery, but the Toyota is almost entirely conventional-feeling.
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.
The Prius i-Tech ships with seven airbags (including driver's knee bag), ABS, stability and traction controls, reversing camera, blind-spot monitor, rear cross traffic alert, lane-departure warning, forward-collision warning and forward AEB.
For the kiddies, there are three top-tether anchor points and two ISOFIX points.
The current Prius scored five ANCAP stars in October 2016.
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.
Toyota has joined its rivals in the long-warranty camp, now offering five years/unlimited kilometres on its whole range. Roadside assist is an extra cost, though.
Your Prius' service costs are capped for the first three years/60,000km and you have to take it back to Toyota every six months/10,000km. Thankfully, the services only cost $140 a pop.
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.