Hyundai's first dedicated electric car is also available as a PHEV and petrol-electric hybrid; on sale from around £22,000
24 February 2016

The Hyundai Ioniq, the firm's first dedicated hybrid model, is billed as being the first car from any manufacturer to be offered with three electric powertrain options within a single body type.

The Ioniq can be specified as a fully electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid or a full hybrid, and is expected to rival the Toyota Prius when it goes on sale later in March.

Read our review of the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid here

Engine and gearbox

The first powertrain to be made available will be the hybrid. Comprising a 1.6-litre Kappa GDi engine that produces a peak of 103bhp and 108.5lb ft of torque, and a lithium-ion battery-powered, permanent magnetic electric motor, which contributes a maximum of 43bhp and 125lb ft of torque, the hybrid is claimed to have a thermal efficiency of 40% - which conveniently matches its arch-rival, the Prius.

This efficiency is possible thanks to the combustion engine's use of optimised cooling and a 200 bar six-point direct fuel injection system, while the electric motor benefits from declination coils that allow it to work with a claimed 95% efficiency.

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed DCT dual clutch transmission that's been optimised for the hybrid to offer as much as 97.5% efficiency - another class leading feature, according to Hyundai.

The plug-in hybrid variant of the Ioniq uses the same 1.6-litre engine and electric motor combination, but with electric power boosted to 51bhp, giving a combined total of 155bhp. It's capable of travelling for 31 miles on electric power alone, and emits 32g/km of CO2.

The Ioniq Electric features an uprated lithium-ion battery back, and is good for an estimated 155 miles of pure electric driving. The electric motor now produces 118bhp and 218lb ft of torque, with drive channelled through a single-speed transmission. In this form, the Ioniq has a top speed of 103mph.


The new model is built on a brand new platform, which is shared with sister brand Kia for the new Niro, also due to launch this year. Hyundai says the new model's chassis has been optimised to deliver "responsive handling while remaining efficient in each of its three powertrain configurations". It's made up of a mix of Advanced High Strengh Steel - the material contributes a significant 53% to the structure - and aluminium, which saves 12.6kg by casting parts such as the bonnet, boot and suspension components.

Hyundai's handling claims appear backed up by the fitment of dual-lower arm multi-link suspension at the rear, while the car's batteries have been located in the car's floor in order to lower centre of gravity.


The new alternatively fuelled Ioniq will also offer “class-leading aerodynamics”, according to the Korean manufacturer. Pre-orders for the new car are being taken in Korea now; the car made its world debut there before it was revealed to the West at the Geneva motor show.

The vehicle’s exterior styling is said to make it very slippery through the air, reducing drag and enhancing fuel economy. At the front Hyundai’s hexagonal grille incorporates moving ‘flaps’ that can direct airflow over the car.


Hyundai has gone for a clutter-free approach, combining “efficient use of interior space and a clear, logical approach is applied to the layout of control functions”. The cabin is said to be con structured with eco-friendly materials - though the manufacturer hasn’t elaborated on what those materials are yet, the latest interior picture shows soft-touch plastics, leather with contrasted stitching and chrome-coloured trim are available.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay feature on the Ioniq, with satellite navigation provided by TomTom's Live service. A wireless charging mat for mobile phones is also available.

The dashboard's shape and layout appears very similar to the Hyundai Tucson's - there's even the same digital touchscreen display housed between the two central air vents, and the heating controls look near identical.

In terms of safety technology, the Ioniq features autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assitance, blind spot detection, rear traffic alert and adaptive cruise control systems.

While all three models of the Ioniq look broadly similar, the two hybrid versions receive blue trim accent colours, while the electric model gets copper accents.

More details

Hyundai says the Ioniq "breaks the mold for hybrid vehicles. As the world’s first model to offer customers the choice of three powertrain options, the Ionic combines class-leading fuel efficiency with a fun, responsive drive and attractive design - a unique mix not yet achieved by a hybrid vehicle."

It’s no surprise to see Hyundai developing a dedicated hybrid model, as sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles continue to grow in Europe and the UK. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that sales of AFVs have grown by 130% year-on-year in this country.

The launch of a dedicated hybrid model will also help Hyundai to reach strict 95g/km CO2 regulations coming into force in Europe in 2020. 

Head of Hyundai Motor R&D Center Woong-Chul Yang said: “We are proud to advance our eco-friendly car line-up with the introduction of Ioniq. Our vision for future mobility focuses on choice, with a variety of powertrain options to suit customers’ varied lifestyles, without compromising on design or driving enjoyment. Ioniq embodies Hyundai Motor’s vision to shift the automotive paradigm and future mobility; IONIQ is the fruit of our efforts to become the leader in the global green car market.”

Hyundai UK boss Tony Whitehorn has already said the best way to introduce more hybrid technology to the firm’s line-up is to start with a dedicated car. Speaking to Autocar, he said: “Probably the best way to do that is with a stand-alone model, as Toyota has done. Toyota started with the Prius and has expanded that range; it has said, 'Let’s make a statement' but ultimately has taken that technology [for other models].

“If you just restrict hybrid technology to one vehicle, you’ll never get the revenue. You have to put it in other cars.”

Plans for Hyundai's hybrid project go as far back as 2010, when the firm showed its Blue-Will concept car. That model featured a 1.6-litre petrol engine working in conjunction with a 134bhp electric motor. Early-stage test mules were then spotted testing in August 2015.

Hyundai recently celebrated selling one million cars in the UK. Speaking at an event to mark the occasion, Whitehorn said low-emissions vehicles would be integral to the firm's ongoing growth. Hyundai plans to introduce 22 such vehicles by 2020.

“Next year we are looking at hybrid and EV technology coming out, and that will just escalate,” said Whitehorn. “I see electric vehicles, hybrids and plug-in hybrids as a way of bridging the gap between the internal combustion engine and pure fuel cell technology. How long that bridge lasts for is uncertain, but it is interesting to see manufacturers such as ourselves going for a variety of technologies.”

While prices for the Ioniq have yet to be officially revealed, it's expected to cost from around £22,000.

Read more - 2016 Hyundai Ioniq driven

Join the debate


16 July 2015
And I honestly think that building a dedicated hybrid is the way to go. Quite a lot of the Toyota Prius' efficiency comes from its Atkinson cycle angine, it's epicyclic CVT transmission, its aerodynamics, tyres etc. So an add-on hybrid system isn't likely to be quite as good. The Japanese manufacturers have shown that hybrids can be very reliable and without significant battery problems, let's see if Hyundai can achieve something similar.

16 December 2015
Wouldn't it be nice if they just went back to having numbers?

16 July 2015
Honda already had a go at building a Prius with the 2nd gen Insight and this looks like a similar proposition. Let's hope it's better executed. Incidentally, I saw an original Insight coupe on the road the other day, the driver looked very contented with life. Cannot believe how Honda squandered this legacy. They didn't do the CRZ properly either.

17 July 2015
I ran a second generation Insight for three years and almost 100 000 miles. It was a great car for me - I need a reliable automatic and I do a high mileage - but I can see that others might find it compromised. It was written off so I bought an Auris Hybrid, which has a Prius drivetrain in an Auris body. I've only done a couple of thousand miles in it. Fitting the hybrid drivetrain to a model that was not originally designed for one has a couple of disadvantages - it's a bit less economical than a Prius, especially in 17" wheel form, and the boot is eaten into by part of the battery pack. It's still very economical - 60 mpg plus (which may drop in the winter), consistently better than the Insight's, which had a better boot but poorer passenger compartment. LP is right - the Atkinson Cycle engine is very economical but low torque. That's where the motor comes in. The transmission is as much a part of the set up as the engine in the way that it shares power and torque between the ICE and motor. It's also beautifully simple with, as far as I can make out, 7 moving parts. They have a tremendous reputation for longevity in taxis. It worries me a bit that other hybrids are going down the dual clutch route. Maybe I'm biased, but I feel the jury is still out on those which regards to longevity. It's one of the reasons I bought a hybrid not a diesel automatic, as the latter isn't particularly economical with a torque converter auto, single clutch automated manuals are horrible, in my experience, and dual clutch ones are expensive and (to my mind) unproven. Honda and Toyota hybrids are not as complex as people think- probably far less complexity than a turbo diesel. When I taught science, I could get kids to make an electric motor. I doubt if any of them could make a variable vane turbo let alone an ICE!

"There's a fine line between wrong and visionary. Unfortunately, you have to be a visionary to see it." - Dr Sheldon Cooper

7 December 2015
Autocar wrote:
The new car, which was spotted testing earlier this year, is billed as the first car from any manufacturer to be offered with three powertrain options within a single body type.
I suppose, for some reason, the MQB chassis'd Mk 7 e-Golf, the Mk 7 petrol/plug-in electric hybrid GTE Golf, and the Mk 7 petrol or diesel Golf - all in one body style designed to take batteries etc, does not count in Hyundai's eyes?
gregor60 wrote:
It worries me a bit that other hybrids are going down the dual clutch route. Maybe I'm biased, but I feel the jury is still out on those with regards to longevity.
For those who like the driving feel of real gears, the dual clutch offers a solution, as in the GTE. Oh, and the Honda CVT I had was not entirely reliable, the "starter" clutch failed on it (under warranty, less that 40k miles), whereas my Mk5 Golf DSG did 66k before I sold on, and I had no gearbox or clutch problems during my ownership.

16 December 2015
6 or 7 speed DSG?

16 December 2015
winniethewoo wrote:
6 or 7 speed DSG?
I bet the 6 speed on a 2.0 Diesel? The 7 speed is the unreliable one.

7 December 2015
What bemuses me to no end is that it's been 15 years since Toyota gave us Prius and yet no other car maker has been able to take it on yet. Just how far ahead of time can a car be?

7 December 2015
Thanks, Adrian. Always good to have one's prejudices challenged. I was a bit wary that the Honda still had a clutch (the Toyota system doesn't) though I think the Insight clutch is after the gearbox so it doesn't spin so fast. Loving the Auris drivetrain, by the way.

"There's a fine line between wrong and visionary. Unfortunately, you have to be a visionary to see it." - Dr Sheldon Cooper

7 December 2015

That's good re Auris drivetrain. The Toyota CVT is gears rather than bands. I feel CVT generally gets bad press unfairly. I have use of 17 year old (perfectly reliable!) Micra 1.3 CVT on an occasional basis, and I always enjoy driving it. That has a "powder" clutch (electro-magnetic?), which is brilliant - when coming to a stop in traffic, the clutch disengages so no need to hold on foot brake, just one click on the handbrake is fine. There is an "micro-switch" in the accelerator linkage, and if you want a bit of creep, just a feather foot resting on the accelerator activates this and provides the creep. Much better than what was in the Honda.

I have not tried either the Auris or the Prius, but if my driving was predominantly in town, I could be tempted by the CVT experience again, in my view, they are a perfect match for town driving conditions (and small country lanes), and such a hybrid seems like a good solution for some local air quality improvement.


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