First drive: 2019 Hyundai Ioniq range launch review

Moving Well | Tim Nicholson | Posted on 10 November 2019

Tim Nicholson charges up with the updated Hyundai Ioniq eco-car range.

It’s only been a year since Hyundai launched its three-pronged eco-car assault Down Under, but the updated version of its Ioniq has just lobbed in showrooms. Once again offered in hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full battery-electric guise, the Ioniq gains refreshed styling that includes fresh head and tail-light designs, new front grilles and alloy wheels. It has a completely overhauled interior and in the case of the EV, a bigger battery with a substantial increase in driving range from 230 kilometres to 311 kilometres, according to the ‘real-world’ Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).

Red 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid


Hyundai Ioniq 2019 range review

How much is it and what do you get for the price?

All three powertrains are available in mid-range Elite and top-spec Premium grades. In Elite guise the hybrid starts at $34,790 before on-road costs, the plug-in hybrid kicks off at $41,990 and the electric starts at $48,490. Pricing has increased by between $800-$1000 for the hybrid and plug-in, while the electric grades cop a $3500 increase. Hyundai says the extra battery capacity and new tech justifies the price hike. 

Standard gear across the range includes a new 10.25-inch display screen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, an eight-speaker premium audio system, Hyundai Auto Link connectivity system, keyless start and rear air vents. Premium variants add wireless charging, heated seats and steering wheel, ventilated seats, leather-trimmed seats, auto-dimming mirror and a power sunroof. Only the hybrid has a full-size spare wheel. The plug-in and electric make do with a tyre repair kit.

How safe is it?

ANCAP granted the outgoing Ioniq a five-star crash safety rating. It’s offered with a healthy list of standard safety gear, including autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot collision warning, lane-keep assist, driver-attention warning, tyre-pressure monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Premium grades add more safety kit like front parking sensors, active cruise control with stop and go, and lane-following assist.

What’s it like inside?

The Ioniq’s new dash is more in line with other current Hyundai models and it’s a big improvement. It’s lost the ‘taxi’ feel of the old model. It’s more modern, thanks to the capacitive-touch air-conditioning controls, ambient lighting on Premium and electric models and more soft-touch materials. The Elite’s cloth seats and the leather-trimmed seats in the Premium are well bolstered and comfortable, but rear-seat headroom is impacted by the sloping rear liftback body style. Hyundai has included a rear-view monitor that can stay on constantly during driving to monitor the road conditions behind your vehicle.

Red 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid plugged into charge station
Close up of Red 2019 Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In badge


What’s under the bonnet?

The Hybrid combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and 1.56kWh lithium-ion polymer battery for a total system output of 104kW, driving the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The plug-in has the same engine setup but with an 8.9kWh battery and it can be driven in EV mode for up to 63 kilometres. 

Ioniq Electric variants have a 100kW/295Nm system output from the motor and 38.3kWh battery, and a new driving range of 311 kilometres, a 33 per cent boost over the outgoing version.

Is it efficient?

The Ioniq Hybrid consumes 3.4 to 3.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, which at its best matches its natural rival, the Toyota Prius. It emits 79-92g/km of CO2. 

Plug-in versions sip just 1.1L/100km, making it the most efficient PHEV in Australia. Its CO2 emissions are 26g/km. 

The Electric naturally doesn’t emit anything. It can be charged to 80 per cent battery capacity in 54 minutes using a 100kW DC fast-charging station. Otherwise it’ll take six hours and five minutes when charging at a station with equal or higher capacity to the battery, or 17.5 hours when charging with a standard household plug.


How does it drive?

We sampled the PHEV and electric variants and the plug-in offers a comfortable ride, thanks to local Hyundai engineers who tailored the ride and handling for Australian roads. 

The plug-in has a well-insulated cabin and the transition from electric to petrol drive is smooth. In ‘eco’ mode the PHEV is far less responsive than in ‘sport’ mode but the latter drains the battery faster. You can switch between full electric or hybrid mode to conserve the battery. 

The electric lacks the straight-line performance and dynamism of Hyundai’s other EV – the impressive and pricier Kona Electric – but it’s a polished car that still offers an engaging drive. And it’s still the most affordable EV currently available in Australia. In terms of driving range, Hyundai’s claim is pretty accurate. We drove 116 kilometres in the morning from a full charge and there was 203 kilometres left at our destination. The 65-kilometre drive back to Hyundai HQ depleted the battery to 143 kilometres. Not bad.

Should I buy one?

If you’re looking for a reliable, well-built green car, then the Ioniq should be considered. Individual requirements will dictate which powertrain best fits your needs, but the Ioniq in any guise is still the best-value eco car in Australia.

Interior dashboard and speedometer of Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid 2019 model
Forward view of Hyundai Ioniq 2019 interior, looking out windscreen from driver's seat