Car Reviews

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Review

Dan DeGasperi’s 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Review With Pricing, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In A Nutshell Like three bolts from the blue, Hyundai Australia lands the Ioniq electric vehicle (EV) complete with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and regular hybrid by its side, all ready to attack the BMW i3 and Toyota Prius.

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Specifications

Price $33,990-$48,990+ORC Warranty five-years, unlimited km Safety NA Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol + electric motor Power 104kW (hybrid/PHEV), 88kW (EV) Torque 265Nm (hybrid/PHEV), 295Nm (EV) Transmission six-speed dual-clutch automatic (hybrid/PHEV), single-speed auto (EV) Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4470mm (L) 1820mm (W) 1450mm (H) 2700mm (WB) Boot Space 456L (hybrid), 350L (EV), 341L (PHEV) Kerb Weight 1375-1495kg Towing Capacity NA Fuel Tank 43L (PHEV), 45L (hybrid) Spare full-size alloy (hybrid), repair kit (PHEV/EV) Thirst 3.4 litres per 100 kilometres (hybrid), 1.1L/100km + 94 Watt hours per 100 kilometres (PHEV), 115Wh/100km (EV) claimed combined.

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PATIENCE is a virtue, apparently. Hyundai Australia has certainly been patient, deliberately waiting two years to launch locally the Ioniq, which has been available in Europe and New Zealand since 2016.

Initially available as a Prius-rivalling petrol-electric hybrid, and BMW i3-baiting electric vehicle (EV), Hyundai Australia wanted to bide its time for the Mitsubishi Outlander-aping plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to lob globally, which it did late last year.

Now it becomes the first new vehicle brand in Australia to launch a trio of alternative-energy models using the same nameplate. In short, just like that it has the Prius, Outlander PHEV and i3 covered … and it undercuts them all.

What’s In The Range And How Much Does It Cost?

Only 20 per cent of Ioniq buyers are tipped to buy the petrol-electric hybrid, priced between $33,990 (Elite) and $38,990 (Premium) plus on-road costs.

Another 30 per cent will pick the PHEV, which asks between $40,990 (Elite) and $45,490 (Premium) +ORC. Half of all punters will apparently go for the EV, which costs $44,990 (Elite) or $48,990 (Premium) +ORC.

As the price goes up, so too does the battery size: 1.56 kiloWatt hours for the petrol-electric hybrid, which is recharged via braking and the 1.6-litre petrol engine that then, in turn, allows to shut down; 8.9kWh for the PHEV, which can be recharged via a powerpoint to run for 63km on electricity only; and the EV which ditches the petrol engine for a 28kWh battery enabling 230km ‘real world’ range.

And as the battery gets bigger, fuel consumption goes down: from 3.4 litres per 100 kilometres for the hybrid, to 1.1L/100km for the PHEV, and zilch for the EV.

Standard on Elite are 15-inch alloy wheels, automatic on/off headlights, LED daytime running lights, keyless auto-entry with push-button start, leather-wrapped steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, dual-zone climate control and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. The PHEV and EV get 16s but lose a full-size spare wheel, while EV only gets single-zone climate but adds an electric parkbrake (replacing a footbrake).

Auto on/off wipers, electric-fold mirrors and a 7.0in driver display are also standard on EV, whereas they are reserved for the Premium hybrid and PHEV. With this flagship model grade, only the hybrid gets 17s and paddleshifters, yet only the PHEV and EV get LED headlights. All add a sunroof, leather trim, heated/ventilated front seats, electric-adjust driver’s seat, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a second USB port and wireless smartphone charging.

What’s The Interior And Practicality Like?

The compromise list for choosing an EV over a petrol car has become shorter and shorter. Even for the maximum price of an Ioniq Premium EV, at $49K, there’s now comparable standard equipment to Hyundai’s own $45K Sonata Premium. That medium car is roomier and faster, so the compromises now are literally down to a slight space and pace deficit. (We’d say ‘range’ too, but the PHEV solves that…)

The Elite’s basic cloth and unrelenting greyness aren’t nearly as impressive as the treatment in the Premium, which in the case of the EV is $4000 well spent.

In either model grade there are soft-touch dashboard and door plastics, which already soundly beat the cheap, all-hard materials of the forthcoming Nissan Leaf – which is delayed until mid next year.

Being built in South Korea down the same line as the i30 hatchback and Elantra sedan, means this small car is comparably spacious. The front seats are comfortable, and the rear bench comes complete with air vents and more than adequate legroom. Only headroom is crimped, at least for anyone taller than 178cm, owing to that swoopy liftback design.

Speaking of which, the Ioniq hybrid gets a huge 456-litre boot volume, whereas the PHEV drags that down to 341L and the EV, despite an even bigger battery, raises it to 350L.

Why? The more complex independent rear suspension (IRS) of its two cheaper siblings is replaced by a simpler, more compact torsion beam back-end. In any case, these are highly competitive numbers for a small car…

What Are The Controls And Infotainment Like?

Standard is a full suite of digital radio, satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, eight-speaker Infinity audio and even Hyundai Auto Link – with smartphone-activated door unlocking, vehicle search and driving history functions. Ioniq Premium PHEV/EV add to those with remote engine start, climate presets, a battery state of charge display and charging station search functions, too – yes, all via smartphone.

The 8.0-inch touchscreen itself is a high resolution unit with brisk and slick response, plus easy menu layering.

And the controls will be familiar to any current-generation Hyundai owner, but they’re logical and intuitive. The whole car feels well built, but it could be more adventurous. That’s why the Premium’s 7.0in driver display, leather, ventilated seats and wireless charging is a must – it really lifts the ambience significantly.

What’s The Performance Like?

We spent most time with the Ioniq Premium EV. It has the big electric motor, with only 88kW of power but a sizeable 295Nm of torque. With a single-gear automatic, it feels as quick off the line as a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol Volkswagen Golf, but overtaking response is more like the quietest 2.0-litre turbo-diesel you’ve ever experienced. Especially in Sport mode – there’s also Eco and Normal – there’s beautiful, instant, sort-of-quick response.

The paddleshifters are a cool design, too – left is to add more aggressive regenerative braking, which nose-dives the car forward more when lifting the throttle, while the right paddle eases that sensation but will return less lost energy to the batteries. We found Level 3, the max-regen, perfectly intuitive to use.

And even on a 30-degree Brisbane day, with air-con on from exiting the city via traffic, to climbing steep and twisty mountains, to plunging back down them, the range was pinned at 200-210km. Switch air off and it leaps another 20km and bang-on the ‘real world’ claim.

Swap to the PHEV, and the smaller battery (one-third of the EV’s) pumps power to the half-as-powerful 44.5kW (and 170Nm) electric motor. It will smoothly stay silent with petrol engine off on anything less than a three-quarter throttle press, if there’s sufficient charge. Outside of that, the 1.6-litre kicks in with a grumble, adding its 77kW/147Nm contribution for a 104kW/265Nm total. Little different to the EV then, and it feels that way, especially as the PHEV is 70kg heavier, at 1495kg.

With 88 per cent charge at the start of our driving, the PHEV showed 37km of electric-only range. That equates to 42km if it were 100 per cent – some way short of the 63km EV-only claim. Even so, after 26km of urban/freeway driving, the 37km showing dropped not to 11km remaining – but 17km, while the petrol engine sucked 0.1L/100km. We were careful with the throttle, you see. Here, it’s just an EV, but with the bonus of a 900km-plus range…

The hybrid basically mirrors the above, only with a 32kW electric motor – though total torque and combined outputs remain the same as the above – and a battery that is one-sixth the size. Without plug-in capability, you notice that the computers rely less on that tiny battery, only switching off the petrol if there’s sufficient charge, only if you’re not on hills and only to 60km/h or thereabouts unless coasting.

It also shares a six-speed dual-clutch auto with the PHEV, which feels far more engaging than the elastic-band-esque feel of a Prius’ continuously-variable transmission (CVT).

Not only is the 1375kg Ioniq hybrid a staggering 120kg lighter than the PHEV, while offering the same outputs, but it gets proper paddleshifters – missing the ability to control your regen braking because the battery is so tiny it fills quickly anyway! – that allow you to blip the throttle and downshift. (You can do that in the PHEV, but via the tipshifter.)

In short, the hybrid feels quicker and more entertaining, although you hear that thrashy non-turbo four-cylinder often. The Elite hybrid claims to use 3.4L/100km, while the tested Premium hybrid on 17s gulps 3.9L/100km. But both around town and on the freeway, we beat that figure with 3.2L/100km showing on the trip computer. It’s damn impressive.

What’s It Like On The Road?

All Ioniqs are quiet for wind and road noise, and they offer a great mix of suspension compliance and control. The steering, too, is light, sweet and direct.

There are differences, though. The hybrid and PHEV’s IRS contributes to slightly waftier and more hushed progress. The EV’s torsion beam rear suspension is more than decent, and better than its showing in base-model i30 for example, but it can be audibly boomy over sharp-edged potholes and expansion joints.

Meanwhile, the Ioniq Premium hybrid gets 17-inch wheels with decent Michelin Primacy HP tyres. Everything else runs Michelin ‘eco’ footwear, and on the Ioniq Premium EV most vigorously tested down a tight mountain pass, it proved a rare weak dynamic link.

Hyundai claims the Ioniq is fun and engaging to drive, and to more than a slight extent it is.

The EV’s heavy underfloor battery contributes to a low centre of gravity and you can feel the body remaining surprisingly still and flat through sweeping bends. It keeps the front-end stable, while the suspension is soft enough at the back to encourage a bit of passive rear movement, aiding balance especially going downhill.

Call it enjoyably neutral and smoothly controlled, if not laugh-out-loud fun. But the chassis is good enough to demand better tyres and, also, a more relaxed electronic stability control (ESC) system. The South Korean brand now tunes great systems, but this is merely good – it clamps down too hard and early in bends, (over) reacting to the squidgy tyre traits.

Does It Have A Spare?

Only the hybrids get a full-sized spare tyre. The PHEV and EV even miss a space saver – they only get a goo kit.

Can You Tow With It?

No, the Ioniq’s no load hauler.

What About Ownership?

The EV might be pricier up front, but it costs $160 for each annual or 15,000km service all the way until five years or 75,000km. The hybrid and PHEV need $265 for each of the first three, $465 for the fourth and back to $265 for the fifth.

Both the PHEV and EV also need home installation for recharging, unless there’s enough public recharging stations nearby that is.

Jet Charge asks $1995 up front to deliver and install a 7kW charger at your home, unless you have a heritage facade or over-drawn powerboard in which case extra costs apply. It will take an EV from empty to 100% charge in 4.5 hours.

Via a household powerpoint it takes 12 hours where, conversely, a 50kW public recharge station would need just a half an hour. The Ioniq EV is rated to 100kW recharging, though, the rarer stations of which can juice you up in 23 minutes.

For the Ioniq PHEV, recharge time can actually be longer because it’s only rated to absorb 3.3kW charging. That means a best case of two hours and 15 minutes despite the much smaller battery size and about a quarter of the electric range. In addition to Hyundai’s five year, unlimited kilometre warranty, the brand also covers the batteries for eight years or 160,000km.

However, speaking of which, the only question mark that remains is the ‘real’ environmental benefit of owning an EV with a huge battery. Rival BMW claims an i3 EV driver will need to do 50,000km of emissions-free driving before he or she offsets the increased production emissions required to harvest materials for the battery and produce it. That German brand builds its pricier EV in a carbon-neutral facility, but the Ioniq runs down the same line as i30 and Elantra, and it isn’t emissions free. We asked Hyundai Australia about the production emissions for the Ioniq and are awaiting an answer – stay tuned.

What Safety Features Does It Have?

Impressively, everything is standard. Seven airbags, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitor, lane-departure warning with active lane-keep assistance, adaptive cruise control and rear parking sensors with rear cross-traffic alert.

The Premium only further adds front parking sensors to the mix.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior and practicality?
How do we rate the controls and infotainment?
How do we rate the performance?
How do we rate the ride and handling?
How do we rate the safety?
Practical Motoring Says: The Hyundai Ioniq is charming and beautifully complete. It delivers sharp pricing, no real negatives and plenty of positives, not least choice. The EV is the most impressive, but it really needs the extra circa-200km range of the forthcoming Kona EV, arriving locally in early 2019. The solution may be the PHEV, though the EV is almost as quick to charge while providing four times the electric range and conversely, the hybrid is much cheaper, feels quicker and is still very frugal. There are pros and cons to each, tailored to individual needs, but a base hybrid or flagship EV are the best of a triple treat.

Dan DeGasperi

Dan DeGasperi