As the third in-line to the throne, does Hyundai’s plug-in hybrid Ioniq make sense over the Hybrid and Electric versions? Jonathan Musk finds out.
Hyundai’s Ioniq range is the company’s first real foray into electrified vehicles, with the introduction of a highly efficient hybrid powertrain, an electric motor and a blend of the two. The cars form a part of Hyundai’s goal to launch 18 electrified vehicles by 2025: a mix of battery, plugin and hybrids, as well as a hydrogen fuel cell powered “Nexo” flagship model.
The first to arrive was the Ioniq Hybrid, sporting at the time one of the most efficient petrol engines in production, with an impressive 40% thermal efficiency. Its DCT (dual clutch transmission) wasn’t as good as it should have been, however, and the electric motor felt underpowered. But the result was decent economy comparable to the best on offer by other hybrid car makers. The Ioniq Electric model variant remains a firm favourite and is one of the most compelling EVs on sale today. It offers a great drive, near-unrivalled responsiveness and a keen chassis. However, its limitation was range and a reliance on the ever-young charging infrastructure. So the plug-in hybrid variant here should be the best of both worlds, combining the convenience of the hybrid with the economy of the electric model.
What is it
The Ioniq PHEV is equipped with the same 1.6-litre petrol engine as fitted to the hybrid, but with the addition of a larger battery pack and powerful electric motor capable of taking the car beyond motorway speeds. An 8.9kWh lithium-ion polymer battery is housed under the boot, but Hyundai has been clever with packaging and managed to tuck it away without hindering the car’s load lugging ability. Consequently, the Ioniq PHEV is capable of an impressive 37-miles real world electric driving, which is more than enough for the vast majority of people and commutes. For longer distances, hybrid mode can be deployed, which is convenient in today’s fossil fuelled setup. Green credentials are, therefore, kept in check. Sure, the car isn’t as efficient as a pure EV, but with those 37-miles from its battery it ends up being comparable in efficiency to some of the less efficient EVs – and that’s despite lugging about a petrol deadweight half the time too. It is, therefore, an impressive machine with little compromise.
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