Let’s start with facts. Manufacturers have become very serious about bringing in hybrids. Next, a famous Japanese brand just released a hybrid version of their best-selling sedan. And yet another, a Korean car company has always had a hybrid of its own, but has not seen much action since its introduction.
What we are talking about is the Hyundai Ioniq. First seen at the Geneva Auto Show in 2016, three different variants were introduced. Fast-forward to the 2018 Manila International Auto Show, Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. ushered the official launch of the Ioniq in the country.
Not too many are keen on the concept of electric-powered vehicles, but with a lot of considerations and significant discounts under the new tax reform law, it baffles us why it is only now that such vehicles are gaining traction when we’ve had this car in the market for more than a year now.
Let’s have a closer look at what this Korean hybrid offers and see what its laid on the table since its release into the Philippines.
As far as its looks go, it’s taken on a shape and form quite common to other electric vehicles. In the Ioniq’s case, it opted for a wide, angular front end (with a lift back design for the rear,) while a horizontally slatted grill dominating its fascia. Although it may look similar to the Veloster, the difference is the frame built under the headlights that run into the grill’s borders, making it look bigger while adding a touch of sportiness as well.
No fog lights are installed, and in their place is a vertical cluster of LED daytime running lights. As an added accent, the DRL housing is colored in a lighter shade than the rest of the body, which gives its looks just a tad more class. Another good touch of color given to the Ioniq is the eye-catching blue strip that lines the front chin. The blue accent adds life to what most would otherwise see as a drab look, but personally, I think the Ioniq always had a pretty face.
In as much as its front balances an aggressive and at the same time subtle image, the side is much more subdued. Save for a BlueDrive badge on the fenders, and the presence of angular door moldings low on the doors, the sides are rather bare. What makes up for the lack of adornments is that your focus is drawn to the wide windows. With black accent pieces plus a little chrome trim, the windows give focus on the Ioniq’s sloping roofline; that in turn gives a highlight on the car’s lift back rear end.
Immediately you’ll notice that the back glass is massive. It gives a good view of the inside while at the rear of the Ioniq, and it molds seamlessly into the rear hatch. The hatch being mentioned, a wing runs right across the lower portion of the glass but is not intrusive in any way. Sharp taillights, a black molding piece that spans almost the entire rear bumper, and that familiar blue stripe all make for a very cohesive design at back, and the entire car, for that matter.
Step inside, and you are greeted with all the niceties and more that you’d expect. I’ll not mince words: the interior of the Ioniq is very neat. The fitis something you’d expect from a car in the luxury class; no awkward gaps or unsightly flaws. The seat materials from the upholstery to the cushions are comfortable and finished perfectly. Sure, there still is an abundance of plastic, but as we mentioned, the alignment is unexpectedly straight, and most touch-points are soft to boot. Gray, light gray, black pieces, and silver trim adorn the cabin giving it a clean and upmarket vibe.
Ergonomics are good, too, with everything you may need to see and hold and flip (as switches go) are well within arms’ reach. The infotainment system is likewise updated and now comes with both Android Auto and Apple Car Play. Other relevant apps that come with are navigation, plus a dedicated button for keeping tabs on the motor, battery, and charging while on the move. If there’s anything that really looks out of place, they’re the rotary dials for audio and the climate control. For something that should be “modern”, maybe a future model update can do better with buttons throughout.
In as much as the infotainment system can display specific car functions, the gauge cluster is also a pretty and comprehensive implement. Whether you start using the petrol engine, or the electric motor, the battery’s charging state and the amount of juice it has left, all that information is easily viewable without much fiddling around. That way you can better enjoy your experience without wondering how far you can still go on electricity or on what’s left of your fuel.
Cabin space is also impressive. For what appears to be a small car on the outside, we were surprised at the amount of space and comfort the Ioniq has to offer. Headroom, legroom, and shoulder room in front were more than ample. You can squeeze in a third adult in the back, and although it’d be a bit of a snug fit, it can be done. We of course advise the middle seat to be reserved for smaller individuals, but it’s good to know that the Ioniq is able to transport five adults (of Asian proportions) if need be. Also, do be careful when riding or alighting the back seats, that sloping roof line leaves one wanting for headroom in the back, but it’s still quite comfortable.
Also a bit of a novelty in the interior is that small ledge that sits right above and aft the doors’ window switches. They are, believe it or not, arm or, more properly, shoulder rests. It’s small details like this that really take brownie points in design. Add that to the rear A/C vents on the center armrest, and Hyundai really thought of everyone’s comfort inside the Ioniq.
For those who’d use this car as the proverbial or literal grocery-getter, the trunk is also spacious. You have a lot of forward and lateral space, plus you can also fold the 60:40 rear seatbacks should you need more for longer items. One drawback is the liftback/tailgate. Again, in a bid to provide a more streamlined design, the slope really takes a toll on vertical space. Regardless, though, you can still get a lot of your wares in the trunk. If you need something bigger, then a crossover is really the next logical choice.
Now we get to the meat of the conversation: how does the Ioniq perform? As a background, our daily route requires a drive along Commonwealth Avenue in the thick of both morning and evening rush hour. Add the horrendous weekend traffic and you’re bound to worry about fuel and battery charge in hybrids, right? With this car, you can put those concerns to rest.
At an average of about 23.5 km/l in the worst of traffic jams, the battery maintains charge levels of at least 30%. Take note that we also drive in the blazing afternoon sun, but even that didn’t take any toll on either engine or batteries. From the time we got the Ioniq until we had to return it, only 2 bars of fuel have been consumed and that’s already after a few hundred kilometers run. That’s already with some spirited bursts, mind you.
Suspension-wise, the Ioniq felt planted and taught even when taking corners. Granted that this is not a high-performance vehicle, you can be confident that quick input and sudden turns can be handled well by this hybrid. With one or two passengers (driver included), the ride leans ever so slightly on the stiffer side, but it won’t rattle your teeth off. For those in the rear, they may feel a bit more of the road’s imperfections, but again, it’s not something that will give your bum a bad ache after a long drive.
So, why is it that we don’t see too many hybrids on the road? And, why is it that this year-or-so old Ioniq hasn’t planted any roots in the everyday scene? The answer escapes up, really.
The Ioniq is a pretty car, no doubt. It’s interior is premium, its engine has enough power, and its batteries carry enough juice and enough oomph to get you places with no problems at all. Perhaps it’s the price tag. At Php 1,548,000, it is a bit up there. But if you think about it, other purely petrol-feeding cars cost the same, and consume more fuel (and money) at that.
It’s no sports car, but if efficiency and practicality are the name of your game, then really, a hybrid is your best bet. If you want one that looks very modern, performs higher than expected, sips so much less than what you’ve gotten accustomed to, and gets going as fast as you’d want, then the Ioniq is a choice that you may want to consider.