In-depth reviews

Hyundai Ioniq review

Impressive specs and the choice of hybrid, PHEV and EV models make the Ioniq a serious rival for the Toyota Prius

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Lots of standard kit, economical, affordable
  • Claimed economy difficult to match, firm ride, poor interior build quality

Hyundai’s first attempt at a full-on eco car family is a strong one. The Ioniq comes in hybrid, plug-in and full electric forms, and all three offer plenty of practicality at an affordable price with lots of kit. However, the electric motor and petrol engine in the hybrid variants aren’t integrated as well as in the Toyota Prius, and the car isn’t as comfortable, either.

On the other hand, Hyundai’s infotainment set-up is more impressive and if efficiency on a budget is your main aim, the Ioniq is a great alternative to the Prius. On top of that, the amount of standard equipment is very generous, while the cabin is more conventional and easier to get along with day-to-day.

Hyundai has transformed itself over the years from a bucket-shop brand to a manufacturer offering impressively competitive cars, from the smallest city runabout like the i10 to the full-size Santa Fe SUV. 

It also covers most sectors in-between, and the Hyundai Ioniq arrived in 2016 as an eco-focused rival for the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf. As such, the Korean maker offers a full-house of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric options.

A facelift in 2019 saw minor exterior styling upgrades with an updated grille and lights, and a more significant interior overhaul which introduced a large, impressive-looking and comprehensively-featured tablet-style touchscreen on the centre of the dash. The plug-in (PHEV) and electric (EV) versions have also received powertrain upgrades, keeping them competitive on technology and range in an increasingly busy segment.

As well as the Toyota and Nissan, the Ioniq PHEV faces competition from the likes of the Kia Niro SUV which shares the Ioniq’s running gear, plus a diverse range of others such as the Mercedes A250 e, MINI Countryman PHEV and Ford Kuga PHEV

The Ioniq EV is also up against a constantly enlarging roster of potential rivals, including the Kia e-Niro, Mini Electric, DS3 Crossback E-Tense, Peugeot e-2008, VW e-Golf, BMW i3 and Renault Zoe, which all offer zero-emissions electric drive at prices not too far distant from the Hyundai’s.

The cheapest Ioniq is the standard ‘self-charging’ hybrid model. It has a 1.6-litre direct injection petrol engine mated to an electric motor and small-ish onboard battery, all coupled to a six-speed DCT twin-clutch gearbox.

The Ioniq PHEV variant shares the standard hybrid’s engine and motor, but a significantly bigger 8.9kWh battery means you can drive for up to 39 miles in EV mode before you need to plug it in for a recharge. 

Finally, the Ioniq EV features an improved 100kW electric motor and a 38.3kWh battery to give a claimed maximum range of 193 miles.

From the outside, the three Ioniqs share the same shape, but there are subtle differences between them. The big giveaway to the EV version is its blanked-off grille insert up front, but the hybrid versions are largely indistinguishable from each other. 

Like other Hyundai models, the Ioniq is offered in Premium and Premium SE, while the standard hybrid is also available in SE Connect guise, which gives the range a starting price of around £23,800 – the Premium model is around £2,000 extra. There's a price jump of around £7,000 to both the PHEV and EV - the Plug-in Car Grant now only applies to the full EV version, which levels out the prices.

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