It might not look like much of a trailblazer, but the Hyundai Ioniq was, at its launch in 2017, the first car to be offered for sale with three forms of electrification. You could have it as a hybrid model that combines a petrol engine with an electric motor, a plug-in hybrid version with a bigger battery that you can charge externally or a purely electric vehicle.
Now, thanks to its competitive prices on used car forecourts, it offers buyers a nifty and good-value springboard into the fast-approaching future. You can pick up the hybrid model from just £10,000 and the earliest plug-in hybrids start at around £11,000. You’ll need a little over £14,000 to secure a fully electric one.
All the different versions are quite pleasant to drive and to use, too. With the petrol engine and electric motor working together in the ‘regular’ hybrid and the plug-in hybrid, performance is pretty good. The standard six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in both the regular hybrid and plug-in hybrid models can be hesitant off the line, but once you’re up and running, it changes swiftly and slickly through the gears.
The EV model is quicker to get going, utilising its electric motor’s instant lowdown shove to sprint away from the lights in near-silence. Like most EVs, though, it starts to feel more pedestrian beyond 50mph. However, for town driving, where it’s really designed to be used, that’s not an issue, of course.
The Ioniq handles well, too, even if keen drivers aren’t going to come away from it doubled up with delight. It rides firmly but comfortably most of the time, and its refinement is good, with little wind or road noise entering the cabin.
Inside, there’s plenty of space, with soft-touch plastics adding to an air of quality. The boot is of a reasonable size (although it’s a little smaller in the EV model) but it’s slightly handicapped by a high loading lip.
Standard kit is competitive and even entry-level cars are well equipped. Every model comes with some form of autonomous safety equipment, with the entry-level SE getting automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and hill start assist. There’s also a standard-fit camera to help you out while parking.
Buying an Ioniq obviously requires choosing which version suits you best. The earliest electric-only versions had a limited official range of 174 miles. The plug-in variant is claimed to be capable of travelling up to 30 miles on electric power alone, while the regular hybrid still has low CO2 emissions and good fuel economy. It also has a better ride because it is fitted with more sophisticated rear suspension than the plug-in hybrid and all-electric versions.
The Ioniq was updated in 2019 with minor cosmetic changes and improvements to the range. The plug-in hybrid Ioniq is now claimed to have a 39-mile electric-only range and the fully electric car has stretched its official range by an extra 20 miles to 194 miles.