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Hyundai Ioniq 2019 review


Daily driver score

4.1/5

Urban score

4.1/5

Clearly, the walls are closing in on the internal combustion engine.

A combination of global warming induced legislation, finite oil reserves, and ever-improving zero emissions technology has seen the world’s carmakers investing massively in alternatives.

Some are pushing towards hybrid, with Toyota’s Prius a major icebreaker in this market for more than 20 years.

Plug-in hybrids like Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV are an extension of that. And others are looking to shake up the mainstream will full battery-electric vehicles like the Renault Zoe, BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Jaguar I-Pace, and Tesla Model S.

But there’s only one brand offering all three…

The Ioniq, Hyundai’s milestone, five-seat hatch splits its personality three ways between the Ioniq Hybrid, Ioniq Plug-in and Ioniq Electric.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

The Ioniq is in the same size ballpark, with similar interior dimensions to the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla and VW Golf. And although the matte grey or gloss black ‘non-grille’ treatment on the Electric version is a notable departure, its overall fastback exterior shape and overall body kit is shared across the range.

A smoothed underbody, front wheel air curtains, sculpted side sill mouldings, an integrated tailgate spoiler and a functional diffuser contribute to a super-low drag coefficient of 0.24, in line with other eco-focused warriors like the Tesla Model S and Toyota Prius.

For city dwellers, there’s the Ioniq Electric packing a high-output electric motor, sparked up by a whopping big Lithium-ion battery under its rear-end.

  • The Ioniq's a smoothed underbody, front wheel air curtains, and functional diffuser contribute to a super-low drag coefficient of 0.24. (Electric variant shown) The Ioniq's a smoothed underbody, front wheel air curtains, and functional diffuser contribute to a super-low drag coefficient of 0.24. (Electric variant shown)
  • You can spot the Plug-in Hybrid from the small charging cap on the side. (Plug-in Hybrid variant pictured) You can spot the Plug-in Hybrid from the small charging cap on the side. (Plug-in Hybrid variant pictured)
  • Although some design elements change depending on the spec, the Ioniq's overall fastback shape is shared across the range. (Hybrid variant shown) Although some design elements change depending on the spec, the Ioniq's overall fastback shape is shared across the range. (Hybrid variant shown)

It delivers zero tailpipe emissions and a real-world range of around 230km. And it’s easy to pick thanks to a grille-less nose.

Its Ioniq Plug-in sibling spreads the footprint, an ideal option for city and suburban areas with a 1.6-litre, direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine, joined by an electric motor tipping in a solid extra boost.

Not to mention an electric-only range in excess of 60km, and claimed fuel economy of just over 1.0L/100km (mainly because the first 60-odd kays are EV-only).

Recycled plastics, sugarcane by-products, and powdered wood are variously used as ingredients in parts of the interior.

Then the Ioniq Hybrid opens up the wide-open spaces with a combination of the 1.6-litre four supported by a specifically tuned version of the electric motor.

Claimed fuel economy for the combined cycle is less than 3.5L/100km.

As you can see in the interior photos, the Electric features a lower centre console with push-buttons controlling the single-speed reduction transmission.

While the Hybrid and Plug-in have a more traditional console thanks to the intrusion of the engine and dual-clutch transmission.

  • The Hybrid variant adds auto headlights, LED DRLs and tail-lights. (Electric variant shown) The Hybrid variant adds auto headlights, LED DRLs and tail-lights. (Electric variant shown)
  • There are three drivetrains in the Ioniq model line-up: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Electric. (Electric variant shown) There are three drivetrains in the Ioniq model line-up: Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid, and Electric. (Electric variant shown)

So, the interior is contemporary but relatively conventional, although the materials used to create it are anything but.

Recycled plastics, sugarcane by-products, powdered wood (essentially sawdust), even volcanic stone are variously used as ingredients in parts of the interior, from soft-touch door trim panels to the headlining and carpet.

The seats in Elite models are trimmed in cloth, with the Premium’s chairs are ‘leather-appointed’. featuring leather.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Now for the price list. Each Ioniq model is offered in Elite and the higher Premium grade, with price (rrp before on-road costs) ranging across a 15k spread from $33,990 for the Hybrid Elite to $48,990 for the Electric Premium.

Significantly, the Ioniq’s arrival installs the Elite Electric version ($44,990) as the cheapest zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) in the Australian market, undercutting Renault’s Zoe Life ($47,490, before on-road costs) by a neat $2500. And stand by for cost-of-entry to the ZEV club to drop even further with the launch of Kia’s e-Niro range in 2019.

The Ioniq Elite Hybrid ($33,990) offers a healthy list of standard features including, auto headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail-lights, 15-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and start, as well as an 8.0-inch colour multimedia touchscreen controlling (among other things) drive system data, the gps navigation system and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system incorporating Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility (the sound system includes radio but no CD player), plus ‘Hyundai Auto Link’ (which analyses your driving behaviour, monitors your vehicle for any fault codes, and allows you to schedule service with a Hyundai dealer).

Tailored carpet floor mats, iPad holders, fabrid rear bumper protection, a portable 12-volt 15-litre cooler, and a cargo organiser are just a few of the entries on the accessories list. 

The base Hybrid features an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen that controls drive system data, navigation, and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system. (Electric variant pictured) The base Hybrid features an 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen that controls drive system data, navigation, and an eight-speaker Infinity audio system. (Electric variant pictured)

A 4.2-inch TFT colour screen covers the instrument display, plus there’s dual-zone climate control, 15-inch alloy wheels (with full size spare), a leather-trimmed steering wheel as well as rear park assist, a reversing camera and the multiple pieces of active safety tech that make up Hyundai’s ‘SmartSense safety technology suite (covered in the Safety section further on).

From there the Elite Plug-in ($40,990) steps up to 16-inch alloys (with ‘mobility kit’ instead of a spare), and the Elite Electric ($44,990) adds rain-sensing wipers, an auto defog function, an electric parking brake, a larger 7.0-inch TFT instrument display, electric folding mirrors (with puddle lights), plus start-stop on the ‘Smart Cruise Control’ system. On the downside, the push for optimum efficiency sees the climate control air drop from dual- to single-zone.

The Hybrid Premium adds a USB charger and wireless charging pad in the centre console. (Electric variant shown) The Hybrid Premium adds a USB charger and wireless charging pad in the centre console. (Electric variant shown)

To finish the model comparison, the Hybrid Premium grade ($38,990) rolls on 17-inch alloy rims, picks up the 7.0-inch instrument display, as well as an electrically-adjustable driver’s seat (with memory system), front park assist, auto defog, ‘Hyundai Auto Link Premium’ (additional functions including roadside assist and emergency alerts), HID bi-xenon headlights (no LED headlights available), ventilated front seats, paddle shifters, electric folding mirrors (with puddle lights), heated front seats and steering wheel, USB charger in centre console, wireless (Qi standard) charging pad, a power glass sunroof, rain-sensing wipers and leather-appointed seats.

Stump up for the Plug-in Premium ($45,490) and you’ll drop down to 16-inch alloys but pick up LED (low beam) headlights. While the Electric Premium ($48,990) tips in start-stop on the ‘Smart Cruise Control’ system and an electric parking brake.

All Ioniq models also incorporate 'Hyundai Auto Link' functionality, connecting the car's smart computer to a mobile device (via Bluetooth) allowing owners to keep track of everything from driving info and vehicle health, to tyre pressures and comparative driving efficiency.

Manufactured at Hyundai's vast Ulasan plant on South Korea's east coast, the colour palette for the Ioniq (all trim levels) runs to five shades - 'Fiery Red', 'Intense Blue', 'Iron Gray' (so, grey), 'Platinum Silver' and 'Polar White'. No orange, black, or brown for those inclined towards earthier tones.

 

How practical is the space inside?

At just under 4.5m long, a fraction over 1.8m wide, and a little under 1.5m high, the Ioniq sits squarely in the small hatch segment, offering enough passenger and load space for anything up to a young family.

Up front, all models feature two 12-volt outlets, a USB socket, an ‘aux-in’ jack as well as plenty of storage including a medium-size glove box, a storage cubby and pair of cupholders in the centre console, plus a Qi (chi) wireless phone charger (in the Electric Premium), as well bins and bottle-holders in the doors.

  • At just under 4.5m long, the Ioniq offers enough passenger and load space for anything up to a young family. (Electric variant shown) At just under 4.5m long, the Ioniq offers enough passenger and load space for anything up to a young family. (Electric variant shown)
  • Rear legroom is decent, in that I was able to sit comfortably behind my (183cm) driving position. (Electric variant shown) Rear legroom is decent, in that I was able to sit comfortably behind my (183cm) driving position. (Electric variant shown)

Rear legroom is decent, in that I was able to sit comfortably behind my (183cm) driving position, although when I sat properly upright my shiny pate made firm contact with the roof. Adults will be okay for short journeys, but compromised on longer road trips.

Shoulder room in the back is typical for the class; fine for two adults or three kids, but a trio of grown-ups will struggle.

Big tick for rear centre console air vents and plenty of oddments space including two cupholders (one medium, one large size) in the fold-down centre armrest, a net pocket on the rear of the front passenger seat plus bins and bottle-holders in the doors.

Ironically, given the electrified nature of the car, back seaters miss out on USB power or media ports, with 12-volt outlets MIA.

  • Storage space is 456, 341, and 350 litres for the Hybrid, Plug-in, and electric models respectively. (Electric variant shown) Storage space is 456, 341, and 350 litres for the Hybrid, Plug-in, and electric models respectively. (Electric variant shown)
  • Folding the back seats forward liberates up to 750 litres of storage volume. (Electric variant shown) Folding the back seats forward liberates up to 750 litres of storage volume. (Electric variant shown)

Now for boot dimensions. Boot space, complete with pull-out cargo cover, varies according to drivetrain (with varying battery sizes) and rear suspension set-up (torsion beam in Electric, multi-link in Hybrid and Plug-in).

With the 60/40 split-folding rear seats upright the Ioniq Hybrid offers 456 litres (VDA) to the top of the seats, the Plug-in 341 litres, and the Electric 350 litres. Folding the back seats forward liberates up to 750 litres of storage volume. There’s also a handy additional recess behind the driver’s side wheel tub and four tie-down shackles to help keep loads secure.

Don't worry about towing capacity, the Ioniq is a no-tow zone.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Ioniq Hybrid is powered by Hyundai’s 1.6-litre, all-alloy, direct-injection ‘Kappa III’ four-cylinder petrol engine (producing 77kW at 5700rpm and 147Nm at 4000rpm) and a (32kW/170Nm) permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor. Combined output is 104kW (139 horsepower) /265Nm.

Designed for the front-wheel drive Ioniq, this non-turbo evolution of the Kappa engine uses the Atkinson, rather than the virtually ubiquitous Otto combustion cycle.  

The Atkinson cycle is the result of design and engineering voodoo which delays closing of the intake valve during the compression stroke. This effectively reduces the engine’s capacity during the intake cycle but retains the full ratio of expansion in the combustion stroke.

  • The Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid feature Hyundai’s 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine. The Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid feature Hyundai’s 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre petrol engine.
  • Drive from the Electric variant comes from a 88kW/295Nm permanent-magnet synchronous motor. Drive from the Electric variant comes from a 88kW/295Nm permanent-magnet synchronous motor.

Net effect is improved fuel efficiency offset (despite te engine size) by reduced low-end torque, which is where the electric motor steps in to pick up the slack. Default power source is the petrol engine with the battery-powered electric motor tipping in as required, and drive goes to the front wheels (no AWD or 4WD) via a newly developed six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (optimised for engine/electric motor drive). No manual transmission is available.

The Ioniq Plug-in flips that order, using a 44.5kW/170Nm version of the motor as its primary power source, with the petrol engine stepping in to extend the car’s range. Combined peak outputs are the same as the Hybrid at 104kW/265Nm, as is the six-speed dual clutch auto.

It’s all change for the Ioniq Electric with, as the name implies, a high-output (88kW/295Nm) permanent-magnet synchronous motor the solo source of motive power.

Maximum torque is available from step-off and its generous on-going supply means a single-speed reduction gearbox is used to transmit power to the front wheels

How much fuel does it consume?

Claimed fuel economy for the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle for the Ioniq Hybrid is 3.4L/100km in Elite grade (running on 15-inch wheels) and 3.9L/100km in Premium trim (rolling on 17s). Combined CO2 emissions are 79g/km and 92g/km respectively.

The Hybrid’s 1.56kWh Lithium-ion Polymer battery can only be charged via regenerative braking.

Shift to the Ioniq Plug-in and you’re packing a more substantial 8.9kWh battery and will have a 63km EV-only range at your disposal to extend mileage.

Claimed combined cycle fuel economy is a stunning 1.1L/100km, but bear in mind the first 63km of the ADR 81/02 test will be covered by the motor, so the engine is only contributing 37km-worth of running, and the next 100 kays will be a different story.

Both the Ioniq Plug-in and Electric can be charged from a standard 240-volt outlet. (Electric variant shown) Both the Ioniq Plug-in and Electric can be charged from a standard 240-volt outlet. (Electric variant shown)

Then, fuel consumption and tailpipe emission numbers for the Ioniq Electric are easy, there aren’t any.

The Electric’s motor is powered by a thumping 28kWh Li-ion battery delivering a ‘real-world estimate’ range of 230km. According to Hyundai that number was derived from 1600km and nine charge cycles over rural and open roads, day and night, sunshine and rain.

The Ioniq Plug-in and Electric can be charged from a standard 240-volt outlet, but you’re looking at 12 hours for the full electric car.

Hyundai Australia has partnered with JET Charge for provision of a home (AC) ‘Delta Charger’ unit, which for a smidge under $2000 (installed) drops that time to around 4.5 hours and less than three hours for the Plug-in.

What's it like to drive?

Like all recent Hyundais, the Ioniq’s suspension has been tuned for local conditions. A MacPherson strut front suspension is common to each variant, the Hybrid and Plug-in featuring a multi-link back end, while the big-batteried Electric sits on a torsion beam rear set-up.

All variants are comfortable, with nicely weighted steering providing a surprising amount of road feel and accuracy on cornering turn-in.

Hyundai says the Ioniq’s alloy bonnet and tailgate are 45 per cent lighter than steel equivalents, and key suspension and brake system components (front cross-beam, front lower arms, front knuckles, rear hub carriers, and front brake calipers) are also alloy to reduce unspring weight, contributing to an unexpectedly engaging drive. You can feel the big battery’s weight, but it’s low down and the car feels well planted.

Hyundai’s betting on the Electric accounting for 50 per cent of Ioniq sales, and with maximum torque available from rest it’s quick. Don’t get me wrong, a 0-100km/h acceleration time of just under 10 seconds, means it’s no supercar. But the Electric’s forte is its 0-50km/h performance.

Over lengthy stints behind the wheel the driver’s seat remained comfy and supportive. (Hybrid variant pictured) Over lengthy stints behind the wheel the driver’s seat remained comfy and supportive. (Hybrid variant pictured)

Three drive modes – Eco, Normal, and Sport are available, with the latter delivering full-torque, a sharper throttle response and greater steering weight. The penalty of course is higher energy use, but the pay-off is sharp dynamic response and the ability to nip in and out of traffic at will.

A single-speed reduction gearbox in the Ioniq Electric delivers the ultimate in smooth power transmission, while the six-speed dual-clutch auto in the Hybrid and Plug-in does the job without too much fuss.

The regenerative braking system (standard on all models) can be cycled through three modes via wheel-mounted paddles. Level one is subtle, level three considerably less so, to the point where you barely need to touch the pedal.

The Ioniq Electric is also quiet, to which you might say, ‘Duh. It’s an EV’. But above and beyond that an ‘acoustic laminated’ windscreen, special foam fillers in the A- and B-pillars to minimise resonance and tailored floor panel sound insulation pads drop overall noise vibration and harshness to agreeably low levels.

A single-speed reduction gearbox in the Ioniq Electric delivers the ultimate in smooth power transmission. (Electric variant pictured) A single-speed reduction gearbox in the Ioniq Electric delivers the ultimate in smooth power transmission. (Electric variant pictured)

Over lengthy stints behind the wheel the driver’s seat remained comfy and supportive, the media and control layouts are good from an ergonomic point-of-view, but there are some niggles.

The fact the rear spoiler divides the back window is a royal pain in the arse. While I understand the need for the rear wing’s positioning (you don’t get a 0.24 drag coefficient without compromise) it puts an annoying block across rear vision.

And Eco mode in the Electric car will stretch the range but suck out your will to live by knocking the top 10 per cent off the torque curve and generally numbing the drive experience. If you’re an A to B environmental warrior, happy days. But if you enjoy the journey you’ll probably be avoiding that button much of the time.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Hyundai’s comprehensive ‘SmartSense safety suite is standard on all Ioniq models, including active tech like AEB and Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Lane Change Assist, Driver Attention Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, Smart Cruise Control, and Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning (no Tesla-style 'auto-pilot', so called 'self-driving' feature). 

Not to mention the usual suspects like ABS, EBD, BA, ESC and Vehicle Stability Management, as well as LED daytime running lights, Emergency Stop Signal, rear view camera and park assist, plus tyre pressure monitoring.

And if, despite all that, an impact is unavoidable, there are front, front side, and curtain airbags, plus one for the driver’s knee. There are also three top tethers and two ISOFIX locations across the back seat. Hard to fault.

The Ioniq is yet to receive a safety rating from ANCAP,

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

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 Hybrid and Plug-in run to $265, $265, $265, $465, and $265, while 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.

The Hyundai Ioniq’s arrival marks a turning point in the Australian new car market. And it’s just one of 38 new eco-focused models to be introduced across the Hyundai/Kia group between now and 2025.

Its combination of efficiency, advanced tech, day-to-day practicality, and for the time being, the most accessible path to a full zero emissions electric car in this market make it a compelling proposition.

Looks like pure internal combustion is finally running out of puff…

Could the Hyundai Ioniq be in your electrified future? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

$33,990 - $44,990

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4.1/5

Urban score

4.1/5