It's the Hyundai Ioniq, the hybrid that could save the V8 | Top Gear
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Tuesday 21st March
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It's the Hyundai Ioniq, the hybrid that could save the V8

Prius rival comes in three flavours, but it's the supercar-offset potential we like

Published: 25 Feb 2016

It’s Hyundai’s attempt to depose the Toyota Prius as the global go-to for a practical hybrid and Uber chariot of choice. It’s called the Ioniq, or, according to the press material, the IONIQ. But shouty capitalisation has never been something we pay much attention to here at TG.

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Still, what we get is a front-driven, DCT-equipped hatchback comes in three flavours: pure electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid.

It’s been designed as a hybrid from the outset, and that’s what comes first. It features a 1.6-litre ‘Kappa’ GDi combustion engine rated at 103bhp, which when combined with the electric motor, provides totals of 139bhp and 195lb ft. Enough for a 115mph top speed, though its 79g/km CO2 emissions are of more relevance.

The plug-in version comes with, well, the ability to be plugged in to extend its electric-only capabilities and to lower that CO2 further. The result? Up to 31 miles of zero emissions driving, with an overall figure of 32g/km quoted.

If you never venture out of town, though, the Ioniq Electric offers not only a weird silver gob, but 155 miles of range, with its motor producing 118bhp and 218lb ft. It’ll crack 100mph, but expect that range figure to tumble if you attempt such frivolities.

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There are some neat touches for all of them. The bonnet, tailgate and several bits of suspension are aluminium to keep weight down - though the subsequent 12.6kg saving over regular steel isn’t game-changing - and the lithium-ion polymer batteries give a useful advantage over nickel-metal in terms of rapid charge/discharge.

The energy storage is also mounted low to keep the centre of gravity in the right place for decent dynamics, and proper multi-link rear suspension should benefit both ride and handling. Hyundai reckons that the Ioniq was created with ‘dynamic ride and handling at its core’, but that’s probably a claim worth considering in context. No one buys a Prius to have a giggle.

Interestingly, the new engine claims to have the world’s highest thermal efficiency at 40 per cent, thanks to a long-stroke design, which features a head and block split for separate cooling and cooled gas recirculation, giving something in the region of three per cent mpg gains alone. It makes it closer in efficiency to a Formula 1 car than your average hatchback.

Their engines typically run thermal efficiency figures somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent, so that’s big news, because the figures relate to how effective an engine is in turning fuel into power without losing the calories to heat.

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We know what you’re thinking, though. It looks a bit… boring. But we should embrace these ultra-efficient cars. As regulations on internal combustion cars tighten further, how about using a practical, efficient, economic little hybrid or EV for all the boring commuting stuff, helping offset something more interesting for the weekend?

Carbon offsetting a V8 muscle car, vintage hot hatch or classic Porsche: sounds way more appealing when you put it like that…

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