Engines on test: Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid

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Sliding in alongside its mild hybrid and battery electric counterparts, the plug-in Ioniq is the third element to Hyundai’s triple-pronged assault on the electrified hatchback market. That said, there were a few (outside of the editorial office) who thought we’d taken delivery of a Toyota Prius – especially when catching a glimpse of the split-glazed rear. Regardless of any initial mistaken identity, the plug-in Ioniq sets out to be its own animal. The 1.6-liter Atkinson-cycle GDi Kappa engine and 44.5kW electric motor yield a total system output of 141ps. The make-up of the powertrain is essentially the same as the regular hybrid, although the plug-in variant enables inclusion of a larger battery and more powerful motor. The plug-in also shares the 6-speed DCT with its sibling.

In hybrid mode, the Ioniq will rely on its electric motor at start and for low-speed operation. Mash the accelerator or head uphill and both the IC engine and the motor will join forces, while at constant speed one or the other will take charge. Deceleration and downhill travel makes use of the mildly unassuming regenerative braking to recoup a little energy. The interaction between the power sources is relatively seamless, with noticeable switching something of a rarity. As battery levels begin to drop, the petrol engine can be trigger happy, kicking in with little invitation, but the hybrid system is, for the most part, impressively unobtrusive – although at those lower battery levels, the slight jolt of the ICE pitching-in showed signs of becoming more prominent.

The claimed EV-only range of 62km (39 miles) was tough to prove – we managed 43km (27 miles) before the Ioniq called time on pure-EV operation – and at lower speeds the pure-electric performance suffers a little from the weight of the powertrain. But that said, this isn’t supposed to be a high-performance car (although Sport mode and paddle shifts do hint at a more playful side without doing a huge amount to alter the driving experience). Frugality and practicality are, presumably, what Hyundai is going for and, with a generous interior and claimed extended range of 1,062km (660 miles) on a full tank and charge – although we didn’t cover enough distance to verify this – the Ioniq certainly stakes a claim for both.

November 30, 2017

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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