Hyundai Ioniq hybrid Review
The Hyundai Ioniq is a hybrid car that’s cheap to run and just about big enough for small families but it doesn’t look as stylish or feel quite as upmarket inside as alternatives.
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- Easy to drive
- Cheap to run
- More affordable than hybrid alternatives
What's not so good
- Slightly cramped back seats
- Struggles at motorway speeds
- Plug-in version’s more usable
Hyundai Ioniq hybrid: what would you like to read next?
The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is well worth a look if you want a small family car that’s cheap to run and easy to drive around town – if you don’t mind being mistaken for an Uber driver, that is. It’s well-equipped and slightly cheaper than the likes of the popular Toyota Prius and high-riding Kia Niro.
From the side, the Hyundai Ioniq’s low-slung body looks almost identical to that of the Toyota Prius. Both look slightly like escape pods that have fallen from a doomed spaceship and somehow found themselves pottering around the M25. From the front and rear, however, the Hyundai’s unassuming styling won’t turn as many heads as the Toyota’s bonkers collection of lines and creases.
The Hyundai Ioniq feels much more memorable inside, however. You get plenty of shiny trims, large screens and more soft-feeling materials than you’ll find in a Toyota Prius. You get a decent amount of equipment behind the scenes, too – especially in mid-range cars that come with sat-nav, smartphone mirroring and loads of electric seat adjustment as standard.
The latter helps make sure you’ll find a comfortable seating position easily but that’ll be of little comfort to tall passengers who find themselves in the back seats. Sure, there’s enough space for three kids to get comfy, but those over six-foot-tall will find their head brushing against the Hyundai Ioniq’s sloping roof.
If you’re looking for a little more passenger space, you’ll be better off with a Kia Niro, but the Hyundai Ioniq has the edge when it comes to bootspace.
The Ioniq looks like it was lifted straight from the Toyota Prius jelly mould. Sadly, it’s not quite as spacious inside but you might still be mistaken for an Uber driver on your way to work
Every Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor that helps them return around 55mpg. The electric motor can power the Ioniq by itself at slow speeds so you can cruise around town almost silently without using any fuel – though not for as long as the Ioniq Plug-in model.
Spend more time on the motorway than driving around town? You might want to consider a diesel car instead that’ll return better fuel economy over long distances. The Hyundai Ioniq struggles to overtake slow-moving traffic and its engine drones rather loudly when you accelerate hard.
The standard automatic gearbox can be a little jerky when you’re driving along fast country roads too, and the Hyundai Ioniq can’t soak up potholes and bumps quite as well as the Toyota Prius.
Fortunately, systems such as automatic emergency braking that’ll try to stop the car for you if it detects an obstacle ahead helped the Ioniq earn an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2016. This makes it one of the safest family cars on sale and well worth considering if you want an affordable hybrid that’s easy to drive and cheap to run.
If you want to see the kind of savings you can expect, just click through to our Hyundai Ioniq deals page.
Pretty much no one will struggle to get comfortable in the front of the Ioniq, but you pay the price for the sleek lines in the back, where it isn’t as spacious as some hybrid alternatives
Despite all the clever tech, my favourite feature on the Ioniq is probably the adjustable lumbar support - perfect for staving off backache on longer journeys
The Hyundai Ioniq’s steering wheel and front seat come with plenty of adjustment so you’ll have no trouble getting comfy – even if you’re very tall. Every Ioniq gets a height-adjustable front passenger’s seat and adjustable lumbar support for the driver’s seat to help reduce backache on long journeys.
Pick a top-spec Premium SE car and you get electric seat adjustment with a memory function – useful if you regularly lend your car to someone significantly taller or shorter than you. There’s even a seat cooling feature to make hot days that little bit more bearable.
The back seats are reasonably spacious but there isn’t quite as much room for adults in the Hyundai Ioniq as you get in a Kia Niro or Toyota Prius. Anyone over six-foot-tall will find their head perilously close to touching the roof and knee room is a little tight – especially with a six-foot-tall driver sitting in front.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of space to carry three kids in the back but the rather narrow central seat means there isn’t quite enough elbow room for three adults to sit side by side. There’s a slight lump in the floor that can get in the way of your middle passenger’s feet, too.
The back doors open quite wide but the Hyundai Ioniq’s sloping roofline means you’ll have to stoop down to lift in a child seat if you’re quite tall and the hidden Isofix anchor points make securing the seat base a bit of a pain.
The Hyundai Ioniq’s front doors come with handy round bins that are big enough to hold a 1.5-litre bottle each with just enough room left over for another small bottle or can. You also get two cupholders in the centre console and space under the folding front armrest for a few valuables.
The rear door bins aren’t as spacious as those in the front but you get a pair of seat-back pockets as standard to tuck away thin items (such as iPads) and a folding rear armrest with two built-in cupholders.
The Hyundai Ioniq has 443 litres of bootspace. That’s a little less than you get in a Toyota Prius’ 502-litre load bay but easily big enough to carry a baby stroller or a family’s bags for a weekend away. By comparison, the boxy Kia Niro can only carry 427 litres of luggage.
The Ioniq’s boot opening is wide and square so it’s relatively easy to lift in some bulky luggage but there’s quite a tall boot lip that makes loading heavy items rather difficult. Still, its square shape makes it easy to pack full of large boxes and every Hyundai Ioniq comes with a handy luggage net to help tie down smaller items.
Sadly, there isn’t any storage space under the boot floor and you can’t adjust the floor height to reduce the size of that annoying boot lip, either. There are a few tether points dotted around the boot but no shopping hooks to stop your groceries rolling around.
Fortunately, you can fold the back seats down in a two-way (60:40) split if you need to carry some very long items and a passenger in the back seats at once. Flip both back seats down and the Ioniq’s boot grows to 1,505 litres – big enough to carry a bike if you remove one of its wheels. The back seats don’t fold completely flat, however, so it’s not particularly easy to push heavy boxes right up behind the front seats.
The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid’s great for pottering around town but it’s just not quite as frugal as the plug-in model and a diesel-powered alternative will be better for long journeys
You’ll hear barely a whisper from the petrol engine around town but it chimes in with a rather annoying drone when you accelerate hard
The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor. They work together to drive the front wheels through a standard-fit six-speed automatic gearbox.
Hyundai claims the Ioniq hybrid will return around 63mpg 74.3mpg but you can expect to see around 55mpg in normal driving conditions. Unfortunately, it can’t match the plug-in hybrid model’s claimed 39 miles electric-only range but it can still potter along at slow speeds for short distances using just the electric motor. As a result, it’s much more frugal around town than a conventional petrol- or diesel-powered car.
When the petrol engine fires up to lend a hand, it does so smoothly and without any unpleasant jolts. With both motor and engine working together it feels brisk enough but the 1.6-litre petrol drones slightly if you accelerate hard.
Even with the engine and motor working together the Ioniq doesn’t have quite enough puff to keep up with fast-moving motorway traffic. If you do lots of motorway miles you’ll want to consider a diesel-powered alternative instead.
Thankfully, the Hyundai Ioniq’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox helps take the stress out of long-distance drives and it doesn’t make the engine rev loudly when you accelerate like the CVT automatic in a Toyota Prius. It can be a little jerky on country roads, however.
Overall, the Hyundai Ioniq doesn’t give you a great view out. The pillars between the front doors and the windscreen produce a few large blindspots at junctions and the split rear windscreen makes it difficult to judge how far away other cars are when you’re parking. The Kia Niro is easier to see out of thanks to its raised driving position and boxy body.
Thankfully, every Hyundai Ioniq comes with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera to help avoid any scrapes in supermarket car parks and you even get a cross-traffic alert system that’ll warn you if a car’s about to pass behind you as you reverse out of a perpendicular parking bay.
Around town, the Hyundai’s light steering and pedals make it fairly easy to drive and it’s especially relaxing at slow speeds when the near-silent electric motor’s doing most of the work. It can’t quite iron out bumps as smoothly as the Prius but it wallows and leans a little less on fast country roads.
Unlike the previous Ioniq, you get a set of paddles behind the steering wheel that let you Yadjust how strongly you want the Ioniq’s regenerative braking to help slow the car down when you lift off the accelerator. Unfortunately, while this does help extend the car’s electric range, it doesn’t work particularly smoothly, so you’ll probably end up leaving it in its least intrusive setting.
Head out onto a motorway and the Hyundai starts to feel a little out of its depth. Its 1.6-litre engine has to work hard to keep up with fast-moving traffic which means you’ll hear quite a lot of noise from under the bonnet as you drive along.
You’ll hear a touch more wind noise in the Hyundai Ioniq than in the Prius but the roar from its tyres is less noticeable than in the Toyota.
All Ioniq hybrids come with adaptive cruise control to help make long journeys as relaxing as possible. This feature can adjust your car’s speed to maintain a safe distance to other cars in front before returning to a preset speed once the road’s clear.
Also standard is automatic emergency braking – it’ll stop the car as quickly as possible if it detects an imminent collision. This helped the Hyundai earn an impressive five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2016, making it one of the safest family cars on sale.
For even greater peace of mind, pick a top-spec Premium SE model. They come with an extra system that’ll warn you if there’s a vehicle in your blind spot before you change lanes on a motorway.
Snazzy blue trims and a digital display behind the steering wheel give the Ioniq’s interior a stylish edge, but a few cheap-feeling trims let the side down
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