Car Reviews

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In and Electric

Toby Hagon’s 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Review With Price, Specs, Performance, Ride And Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.

In a nutshell: The Ioniq takes the eco fight to Toyota’s long running Prius – and advances it many steps courtesy of a trio of electric options.

2019 Hyundai Ioniq Specifications

Price From $33,990+ORC Warranty 5 years, unlimited km Service Intervals 12 months, 15,000km Safety 5-star ANCAP (2016) Drivetrain 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor Power 77kW (engine), 32kW (motor), 104kW (combined output) Torque 147Nm (engine), 170Nm (motor), 265Nm (combined output) Transmission Direct drive Drive Front-wheel drive Dimensions 4479mm (L), 1820mm (W), 1450mm (H), 2700mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1467kg Towing NA GVM 1890kg Boot Space 456L (Hybrid), 341L (Plug-in), 350L (Electric) Spare Space saver for Hybrid only Fuel Tank 45L Thirst 3.4L/100km

The Ioniq is Hyundai’s first big pitch at the emerging eco-friendly car market, bringing a Prius-rivalling all-electric range in a sensibly-priced five-door hatchback body. It’s also the first car to offer the choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric drivetrains, allowing buyers to choose which suits them. With its crosshairs clearly pointed at the Prius, the Ioniq is more about spreading the green message than shooting for sales records.

What’s in the range and how much does it cost? It’s all about choice with the Ioniq. Rather than limit you to a single drivetrain like its main rival, the Toyota Prius, the Ioniq is the first car to offer the choice of three. They’re unimaginatively named Hybrid, Plug-in and Electric and each can be had as an Elite or better equipped Premium (pictured).

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In, Electric

Those wanting the most affordable (and closest in principle to the Prius) can opt for the Ioniq Hybrid Elite, priced from $33,990 and includes an 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite-navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an eight-speaker Infinity sound system. There’s also 15-inch alloy wheels, auto headlights, smart key entry and start, tyre pressure monitors, dual-zone ventilation, reversing camera, rear parking sensors and the SmartSense active safety suite that includes auto emergency braking, blind spot warning, radar cruise control, rear cross traffic alert and lane keeping assistance.

The biggest difference with the Ioniq Elite Plug-in ($40,990) is the unique drivetrain, which includes a larger battery and more powerful electric motor. There are also 16-inch alloy wheels. The Ioniq Elite Electric ($44,990) does without any engine and instead gets an even bigger battery and more powerful electric motor.

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In, Electric

It also gets a unique centre console with an electronic parking brake (others have a foot-operated brake), a digital instrument cluster and mirrors that fold when parked. One area it steps back is with the ventilation, which is single zone rather than dual.

The Premium adds between $4000 and $5000, depending on the model; it gets larger alloy wheels for the Hybrid (17-inch versus 16s), although all other Ioniq variants get 16-inch alloys. It also brings leather seats, sunroof, addition USB charger, a fully digital instrument cluster, Qi wireless phone charging, heated and ventilated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, heated steering wheel, front -parking sensors, minor trim changes and mirrors that fold in automatically when parked.

There’s also the premium version of Hyundai’s Auto Link system, which allows monitoring of various trip computer functions, unlocking and locking of the car remotely and smartphone alerts depending on vehicle usage. White is the only standard colour, with the other four costing another $495.

What’s the interior like? The Ioniq may be innovative beneath the skin but it’s thoroughly normal inside. That’s good and bad. Good because it’s easy to feel at home in, with decent space front and rear to accommodate five in total. As for the bad, that’s because despite being new to Australia it looks dated inside, in part because the car was two years late arriving to Australia. It’s also a tad bland and dull courtesy of the battleship grey treatment prominent inside. Some of the finishes are also low-rent; the leather on Premium models is far from plush, for example, and there are some harder plastics that let the presentation down. In short, it gets the job done without exciting.

The Electric is also has quite a different centre console layout, swapping its clunky foot-operated park brake for a button operated one integrated into a unique centre console, one that does away with a traditional gear selector and replaces it with a push button panel to dart between forward, reverse and park. That unique console also houses two well-placed cupholders that’ll happily look after a phone or other small items too.

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In, Electric

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In, Electric

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In, Electric

What’s the boot like? The boot is a good size, too, and there’s a 60/40 split-fold back seat to accommodate chunky luggage. Being a hatchback makes it easier to fit bikes and surfboards in, too. However, the batteries added for the Plug-in and Electric raise the height of the boot floor, in turn taking away space. In all there’s about 20 percent less space compared with the Hybrid.

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In, Electric

What are the controls and infotainment like? Basic controls are well positioned, with the audio and infotainment features clustered around and in the 8.0-inch touchscreen, which is logical and easy to navigate. The ventilation takes out the centre section of the centre stack, again making for easy adjustments.

But there are differences between the three models, Hybrid, Plug-in and Electric – and it’s mainly to do with the sorts of functions and information offered up. The Hybrid, for example, misses out on the information on the battery system offered in the Plug-in and Electric, instead picking up details on energy flow between the electric motor and petrol engine (something also offered on the Plug-in).

What’s the performance like? If you hate paying for fuel then the Ioniq mounts a solid case, all while getting along with decent performance. While it’ll go for very short bursts only on electricity, the Hybrid for the most part also relies on its 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine. Between them they make 104kW and 265Nm.

Take off and the engine quickly fires to life, some inconsistency to responses to what you’re doing with the accelerator the only clue that there’s some complex stuff going on beneath the skin. Indeed, occasionally you need to prod the pedal more aggressively to wake the engine up and let it know you’ll need some additional help.

The Electric is also has quite a different centre console layout, swapping its clunky foot-operated park brake for a button operated one integrated into a unique centre console, one that does away with a traditional gear selector and replaces it with a push button panel to dart between forward, reverse and park. That unique console also houses two well-placed cupholders that’ll happily look after a phone or other small items too.

But overall performance is akin to an average modern small car. While the Plug-in has a more powerful electric motor, its peak outputs are identical, at 104kW/265Nm. Considering it’s heavier than the Hybrid by about 120kg it means outright performance is slightly slower, although there’s not much in it, the car still respectably energetic in keeping up with traffic. Where the Plug-in has notable benefits is when running on electricity alone, its 44kW/170Nm electric motor capable of moderate acceleration.

But it’s the Ioniq Electric that is the biggest surprise, its 88kW/295Nm electric motor making for generous acceleration, the meaty initial response characterising how it does its thing. Throttle response is excellent, the motor responding as soon as you graze the accelerator. It’s impressive stuff and makes for fun around-town running. We also tested it on a 110km/h freeway, where it had no issues maintaining that speed and powering up extended hills.

It’ll get more than 200km between charges comfortably, sometimes more if you drive it gently. So it’s great for suburban running and the occasional longer trip, the ability to fast charge it with a 100kW charging station a bonus.

The predicted range (how far you’ve got to run before the batteries run flat) was also quite accurate, which is good for forecasting when you’ll need your next charge. On that note, simply using the air-conditioning shows how much power goes into keeping you warmer or cooler. Turn the air-con on and the predicted range drops by about 10 percent. Dial the fan up to full and it drops even further. All of which means you’ll travel further on a charge without the AC running but probably be a little less comfortable doing it.

How do you charge it and what will it cost to run? Claimed fuel use for the Hybrid is as low as 3.4 litres per 100km (or 3.9L/100km if you get the Premium with 17-inch wheels and grippier tyres that have a higher rolling resistance). We tested the Premium and it was using more like 5.3L/100km, which is still decent for the around-town driving we did.

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In and Electric

With fuel at $1.50 a litre (at the time of writing) it means you’ll be paying around $8 for every 100km of driving. In the Plug-in, your first 40-odd-kilometres could cost nothing if you charge on free electricity (public chargers or solar), drive gently and let the electric motor do the work. After that, expect to use slightly more fuel than the Hybrid considering the Plug-in is 120kg heavier.

The Electric has a 28kWh litium-ion battery. If it was completely flat, it would cost about $9 to recharge and it should take you a bit over 200km. So, it’s almost half as much to power as the Hybrid. Still, do the calculations on the $11,000 premium over the Hybrid and it’ll take 15 years or more to recoup the difference if you’re travelling around 15,000km annually.

Of course, solar recharging can speed that payback up considerably, and there are other considerations, such as servicing (see below) and the resale value (some electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, have performed surprisingly well on the used-car market).

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In and Electric

As for charging times, both the Plug-in and Hybrid use a Type 2 connector. The Plug-in is limited to a charging input of 3.3kW, which is about what comes out of a 15-amp powerpoint. With the Type 2 plug you can utilise the various public AC stations around town or use a wall-mounted one at home.

The Electric, meanwhile, doubles that AC charging capability, making the most of those wall charges at home and lowering the charging time to about 4.5 hours. But it can also be fast charged using the DC connector as part of the CCS charging input that is part of the Type 2 plug on this model. With an extra two prongs at the base of the plug it can accept up to 100kW of charge, providing an 80 percent charge in 23 minutes.

What’s it like on the road? Like the interior, the way the Ioniq drives is generally fairly normal without setting any benchmarks.

However, we’ll throw one caveat into the mix: we haven’t driven the base Hybrid, which runs on eco-focused 15-inch tyres. Such tyres often compromise grip to ensure low rolling resistance, something that can significantly reduce fuel use (in the case of the Hybrid those tyres are the main contributor to fuel use that is 13 percent lower; 3.4L/100km versus 3.9L/100km).

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In and Electric

The Hybrid’s 17-inch tyres are thoroughly respectable and work nicely with the independent suspension system. The Ioniq can get busy over repeated small bumps, something that impacts its comfort. But it’s typically well behaved, quickly quelling body movement after larger bumps.

The Electric does have one significant difference with its rear suspension; instead of the multi-link independent rear of other variants, it gets a torsion beam, in part to save space and allow for all those batteries. Still, the Electric has respectable grip from the Michelin tyres fitted to it, although again the emphasis is more on comfort at moderate speeds than carving up the corners.

Hyundai Ioniq 2019 Review: Hybrid, Plug-In and Electric

In any model, though, you can expect substantial tyre noise, especially if you pick some of those country roads with rough bitumen surfaces. It’s more pronounced in the Electric given there is no engine noise to divert some of your attention. And, of course, there’s more tyre noise at higher speeds.

Does it have a spare? Only the Hybrid has a spare tyre, a space saver hidden beneath the boot floor. The additional batteries in the Plug-in and Electric models means there is no spare wheel, with a tyre repair kit the replacement. At least all variants come with tyre pressure sensors to warn of slow leaks, potentially preventing more serious tyre damage if you continue to drive on it.

Can you tow with it? No, the Ioniq is not rated to tow.

What about ownership? All Ioniqs are covered by Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Each must also be serviced every 12 months or 15,000km. But you’ll save money with the Electric when it comes time to service it, because there’s so much less to go wrong (electric motors are a lot simpler than a petrol engine). For the first 5 years or 75,000km it’ll cost $1525 to maintain the Ioniq Hybrid or Plug-in. But with services of $160 each the Electric costs just $800 over the same period – almost half the price. Combined with those fuel savings it makes the Electric a tempting proposition given the ongoing savings. However, you’re still looking at around 15 years of those savings to pay off that $11K premium between Hybrid and Electric.

What safety features does it have? While the Ioniq went on sale in Australia in 2018 it has an ANCAP rating with a date stamp of 2016, representing when it was tested and evaluated by Euro NCAP (which did the physical crash tests). ANCAP date stamps after 2018 adhere to stricter criteria.

But the Ioniq performed well in independent crash testing, its seven airbags (dual front, front side, side curtain and a driver’s knee airbag) helping occupants with good protection in crash tests. Only in the 64km/h frontal offset test was it determined a six-year-old child had “weak” chest protection.

The Ioniq also benefits from the latest active safety features, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) that functions up to 180km/h (it’s only tuned to recognise pedestrians up to 70km/h). There’s also blind spot warning and driver attention warning, the latter operating over 60km/h to monitor vehicle movement and driver reactions to determine if fatigue is playing a part in the driving. There’s also lane keep assistance with mild steering intervention, although as with all such systems it’s hit and miss as to whether it does what it says on the box. Rear cross traffic alert helps with locating obstacles behind the vehicle although it doesn’t automatically apply the brakes, instead just warning the driver.

Editor's Rating

How do we rate the interior?
How do we rate the front seats?
How do we rate the back seats?
How do we rate the 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 Ioniq does away with the argument of which electric drivetrain is best in the current environment, instead offering buyers the choice of three. That is arguably its biggest appeal; the ability to choose which tech works for you. For those without easy access to charging looking for a fuel-efficient hatchback the Hybrid mounts a solid case. Like all Ioniqs, its interior is a tad dour, detracting from the tech injection elsewhere. But at least it’s refreshingly normal elsewhere, with a practical (albeit somewhat dour) interior, decent list of equipment and flexible seating arrangement. Those doing predominantly short trips with easy access to a charger could do a lot worse than the Ioniq Plug-in, the most affordable rechargeable (partial) electric car on the market. It’s perky enough in electric mode but provides petrol backup for more punch or longer journeys, albeit with higher fuel use than the regular Ioniq Hybrid once you’ve depleted the batteries. Then there’s the Electric, the most affordable pure electric car on the market and one that is surprisingly easy to live with – provided you’re prepared to splash out up front.

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Toby Hagon

Toby Hagon

From Porsches to LandCruisers, Toby Hagon loves all things cars and has been writing about them for more than 20 years. He loves the passion and people that help create one of the world's most innovative and interesting industries. As well as road testing and chasing news he more recently co-authored a book on Holden. These days he crosses the world covering the industry but still loves taking off on the Big Trip in Australia.