First Drive

FIRST DRIVE: Hyundai Ioniq raises the hybrid/electric bar

Hyundai’s all-new Ioniq comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric flavours

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

KELOWNA, BC – Hyundai is thinking long term. With the arrival of the all-new Ioniq, it not only goes head-to-head with Toyota’s Prius hybrid and plug-in hybrid, it raises the stakes with a fully-electric model.

As such, it is the only car company to offer a single vehicle that covers the full range of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric solutions to the issue of GHGs (Greenhouse Gas Emissions). In addition, Hyundai currently has other hybrids and plug-in hybrids in its lineup and Fuel Cell vehicles in the hands of consumers on the west coast.

Why spend so much time and resources on vehicles that (apart from conventional hybrids) currently account for less than one percent of the Canadian market? “Because we want to be ready and proficient for any eventuality,” Don Romano, president and CEO of the company said here during the reveal of the 2017 Ioniq.

The Ioniq represents a significant step into the future. It’s built on a dedicated new platform that serves as the basis for a trio of new models with different methods of power delivery. The three Elantra-size five-door hatchbacks, gathered under the Ioniq name, are said to raise the bar with each of their individual “green” approaches.

And there is no corresponding gasoline-only model available.

Ioniq hybrid

The hybrid, utilizes a 1.6-litre gasoline engine, automatic transmission and 43-horsepower electric motor powered from a 1.56-kWh/240-volt battery for motivation. They work in conjunction with one another, with the battery charged by both the gasoline engine and regenerative braking.

The ‘Kappa’ engine has been designed for hybrid use. It operates on the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle and produces 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor provides a full 125 lb-ft of torque from idle. The combination results in quite lively acceleration.

Hyundai says the Ioniq hybrid is the most fuel-efficient non-electric passenger vehicle in Canada with a combined rating of 4.1 – 4.3 litres/100-km, depending on trim levels. Pricing has yet to be finalized but look for the base model to come in around $24,000 when it arrives at Hyundai stores in the coming  weeks. The SE and Limited trim levels should be priced in the high $20s and the top-trim Luxury trim at $32,00 or so.

Ioniq plug-in hybrid

The plug-in Ioniq uses the same engine and transmission, but gets a more powerful (60-horsepower) motor and bigger (8.9 kWh/360-volt) battery pack. Unlike the hybrid, the plug-in Ioniq can travel up to 43 km on electric power alone.

When battery power gets low, the gasoline engine powers up and the Ioniq becomes a “regular” hybrid. The battery is replenished when plugged in, as well as through normal hybrid brake operation. If plugged in every night, however, it should only ever be necessary to stop for gasoline if your daily drive is more than 35-40-km. And then only when the normal hybrid operating range is reached.

Pricing and further details are not yet available for the plug-in Ioniq, as it will not arrive until this fall.

Ioniq electric – this pure electric vehicle comes with a large and powerful (118-horsepower) electric motor. There is no need for a transmission since the speed of the motor determines road speed. The motor gets its power from a 28-kWh/360-volt battery which is recharged when plugged in.

Hyundai says the Electric Ioniq will go more than 200 km before needing a charge. We drove one here mercilessly for more than 100 km in winter conditions with the heater, heated seats and heated steering wheel all in operation. So it is reasonable to expect that target range is feasible in warmer and less-demanding conditions.

The electric Ioniq can be recharged in 30-minutes from a 450-volt Level 3 Public charger, in 4.5 hours from a 240-volt in-home system and 24 hours from a 120-volt household outlet.

Hyundai has not yet confirmed pricing for the electric Ioniq. But they are on their way to dealers, so that information is imminent. Expectations are a range from $35,000 to $42,000 with the well-equipped volume trim coming in around $36,000.

The electric Ioniq will initially be shipped only to dealers in the three provinces offering rebates for electric vehicles – British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. And only to dealers who have invested in the necessary charging stations and other infrastructure in place. Currently there are 30 of them in those three provinces, with more signing on daily. 

The Ioniq electric is an impressive proposition without those provincial incentives, but toss in $14,000 as offered in Ontario (Quebec-$8,000, BC-$5,000) and you have a fully-developed, emission-free electric car for $22,000 - $31,000!  

Award-winning Hyundai quality and features

All three cars boast the high levels of standard equipment and the quality we have now come to expect from Hyundai. The hybrid and plug-in hybrid use a new six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, rather than a CVT – kudos from this quarter for that!

All three use lithium-ion polymer battery technology, with the normal 12-volt battery used to operate things like power windows, seats and the infotainment systems also consolidated within the hybrid battery pack. Lithium-ion polymer technology allows for a smaller batter pack than others so it was located under the rear seat, instead of infringing on cargo space.

There has been a concerted effort to ensure the Ioniq looks and drives like a conventional car. Even the fact that it’s a hatchback has been cleverly disguised, with a trunk-like decklid.  The wheels, grille and badges on the back are the only exterior differentiators. Inside there are slight variations in the instrument panel and a copper-like bit of trim on the electric model.

All models get heated mirrors and front seats, automatic climate control, Apple and Android smartphone integration, wireless charging, rear-view camera, remote keyless entry and start/stop, power windows and locks, cruise, tilt/telescope wheel.

Depending on trim level, The Ioniqs come with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind spot detection, and adaptive cruise control.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid feature a fully independent suspension. Judging by a day-long drive in and near this snow-laden city, as well as a brief flog on a handling course, the Ioniq shows more prowess in this respect then other established players. Due to the location of the battery pack beneath the rear seat, the electric model gets a more compact solid rear axle.


Model: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Price Range: $24,000-$43,000 before freight and applicable government incentives.

Engine: Hybrid and plug-in hybrid – 1.6-litre four-cylinder, 104 horsepower, 109 lb-ft of torque

Electric Motor: Hybrid – 43 horsepower, 125 lb-ft of torque; Plug-in hybrid – 60 horsepower, torque N/A; Electric – 118-horsepower, torque N/A

Transmission: Hybrid and plug-in hybrid - six-speed automatic; Electric – single speed reduction gear

Fuel Consumption Rating (L/100 km - city/highway combined: Hybrid – 4.3; Plug-in hybrid – N/A; Electric: 1.7 equivalent

Length: 4,470 mm

Width: 1,820 mm

Height: 1,445 mm

Wheelbase: 2,700 mm

Competiors: Hybrid/plug-in hybrid – Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max Electric – Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul



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