What is it?
Hyundai has high hopes for the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of its Ioniq hatchback, not least because the car you could consider its warm-up act, the cheaper Ioniq hybrid, had rattled through Hyundai UK’s annual volume allocation for this year before the end of February.
The PHEV version of the Ioniq will be more expensive than the hybrid, of course (its exact UK price is still to be confirmed) and its real-world fuel economy will depend a great deal upon how it’s used (as is true of all plug-in hybrids). But if you’re reading this for one reason and one reason only, I expect it’s this one: “257mpg”. Such remarkable fuel economy could only come from a really outstanding car, surely?
The third Ioniq derivative (there's a fully electric one, too) is ostensibly the same as the lesser hybrid, but for a much larger and more powerful lithium ion drive battery and the Type II electrical charging socket needed to charge it from the mains. The battery’s capacity is 8.9kWh; more by a shade than those of the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Audi A3 etron - and not by coincidence, you suspect.
The bigger battery’s higher voltage also allows the Ioniq’s 60bhp electric drive motor to draw more torque from it more of the time than it can in the hybrid. So while the Plug-in is the heavier of the two, and Hyundai claims identical peak system power and torque outputs for both cars, it’s the Plug-in that’s marginally the more accelerative.
The Ioniq Plug-in charges from a typical 16-amp driveway wallbox charger in a little over two hours. Petrol power comes from a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine running on the Atkinson combustion cycle, and electrical and piston power are juggled onto the road through the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.