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Car group tests

Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

Hyundai has entered the hybrid market with its new Ioniq, but does it have what it takes to topple Toyota’s Prius?

Hyundai’s rise from bit-part player to genuine contender in the global car market has changed perceptions of the firm in next to no time. The brand has broadened its offering with everything from affordable small cars to upmarket SUVs, and now it’s beginning its assault on the eco car sector with its all-new Ioniq.

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This is the first hybrid Hyundai to land in UK showrooms, and will be sold alongside plug-in hybrid and all-electric models. However, this standard hybrid version of the Ioniq conforms to a familiar recipe, with a conventional 1.6-litre petrol engine linked to an electric motor to deliver impressive claimed fuel efficiency at an affordable price. Not that this is anything new, of course, because the Toyota Prius has been combining these methods of propulsion for years – and the latest fourth-generation version of the car does it to great effect.

The Prius picked up the Green Award at the 2016 Auto Express New Car Awards, and has already seen off the challenge of the Kia Niro hybrid SUV, which shares much of its mechanical make-up with the Ioniq.

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Best hybrid cars on sale right now

The Hyundai has a more affordable price than the Prius and promises masses of kit, though, so the Toyota faces a fight to stay on its petrol/electric perch.

Head-to-head

Connectivity

Toyota’s optional Touch 2 with Go multimedia system offers text-to-speech functionality to read your messages aloud on the move, as well as Google Street View. However, it’s the Ioniq’s system that provides better integration with your phone, as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on mid-spec Premium models and above.

Gearboxes

CVTs have attracted a bad reputation over the years, but the box in the Prius should change that. It manages the switch between petrol and electric power nicely, delivering smooth, seamless acceleration. The Ioniq’s DCT box is the more responsive, but can be jerky.

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• Kia Niro vs Toyota Prius

Customisation

Trends show that hybrid buyers generally aren’t too interested in car customisation, but the Prius offers owners the ability to tailor the vehicle to their taste. There’s options such as chrome or piano black foglight surrounds, side sills and rear bumper inserts. 

Verdict 

First place: Toyota Prius 

Hybrids have to deliver impressive efficiency, and the Toyota beats the Ioniq on paper and in the real world. It’s more expensive, but has a decent spec, plus its cabin is roomier and there’s virtually nothing to separate these cars on boot space. The Prius serves up decent performance as well, while the ride is also more refined. Four generations of development mean this is the most complete hybrid yet.

Second place: Hyundai Ioniq

This first attempt at a full-on hybrid family hatch from Hyundai is a strong one. The Ioniq offers plenty of practicality at an affordable price, with lots of kit, too. However, the electric motor and petrol engine aren’t integrated as well as in the Prius, and the car isn’t as comfortable, either. Still, if efficiency on a budget is your main concern, the Ioniq is a great alternative to the Toyota.

Other options in this category...

Kia Niro 2

Kia Niro vs Toyota Prius - Kia Niro

Price: £22,795Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 139bhp

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The Niro uses the same powertrain as the Ioniq, so shares its small flaws. Although it’s more expensive, the extra style the hybrid SUV brings will attract plenty of buyers who want low hybrid running costs without the extrovert looks. 

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 2016 - front tracking

Price: £23,560Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

It’s not able to match this pair of hybrids for on-paper efficiency, but the Passat BlueMotion still emits only 95g/km of CO2. If you need masses of space and long-distance touring capability with shoestring running costs, the VW is a great eco car.

Figures

 Toyota Prius Business EditionHyundai Ioniq Hybrid Premium SE DCT
On the road price/total as tested£24,500/£26,290£23,595/£24,160
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£11,593/47.3%£11,283/47.8%
Depreciation£12,907£12,312
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£538/£1,076£706/£1,412
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,082/£1,803£1,305/£2,175
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost14/£533/A/£011/£528/A/£0
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£169/£219/£169N/A
   
Length/wheelbase4,540/2,700mm4,470/2,700mm
Height/width1,470/1,760mm1,450/1,820mm
Engine4cyl/1,798cc/e-motor4cyl/1,580cc/e-motor
Peak power/revs 121/5,200 bhp/rpm139/5,700 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 142/3,600 Nm/rpm265/4,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission CVT auto/fwd6-spd DCT/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel43 litres/repair kit45 litres/space saver
Boot capacity (seats up/down)343/1,558 litres350/1,505 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,375/400/725kg1,370/500kg/N/A
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.2 metres/0.24Cd10.6 metres/0.24Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery5yrs (100,000)/1yr5yrs (unlimited)/5yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers10,000 miles (1yr)/20610,000 miles (1yr)/173
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.16th/4th30th/23rd
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars92/82/77/85/5N/A
   
0-60/30-70mph10.3/9.8 secs10.3/10.0 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.9 secs*4.7/6.5 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th5.9 secs*9.8/13.2 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 111mph/N/A115mph/2,100rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.6/33.6/9.5m54.9/34.7/10.7m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mphN/A/N/A/62/73dBN/A/N/A/63/73dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range57.8/12.7/547 miles47.9/10.5/474 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 94.1/97.4/91.1mpg83.1/78.5/83.1mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 20.7/21.4/20.0mpl18.3/17.3/18.3mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket113/70g/km/11%136/79g/km/15%
   
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSeven/yes/£495/yesSeven/yes/yes**/yes
Auto/stability/adaptive cruise/AEB^Yes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/no/yesYes/yes/yes
Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go£545/LED/yes£565/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth£750/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes
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