2016 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid EV: price, specs, release date

Hyundai has revealed a photo of the Ioniq in its three different guises – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric. The styling remains mostly consistent across all versions with a curved, aerodynamically friendly roofline, bold hexagonal grille flanked by Tucson-inspired headlights and sculpted sides to reduce visual weight.

The hybrid and plug-in hybrid are almost indistinguishable from one another with both featuring a grille with black horizontal fins. The key departure for the electric model is the blanked off panel that replaces the grille because there is no combustion engine to cool behind it.

All models manage to stay remarkably close to the concept sketch (below) and, despite their efficient billing, are to our eyes quite handsome – a far cry from Hyundais of old. Equally, with the enhancements the company has made to its recent cars’ driving experiences, we expect the Ioniq to be stable, intuitive and easy to drive.

Hyundai Ioniq latest news (updated January 2016)

Hyundai has arguably made bigger improvements to its range than any other carmaker over the past decade, so the launch of its first hybrid model is a serious statement of intent. Called the Hyundai Ioniq, it’ll take the fight to the market-dominating Toyota Prius with consumer demand for hybrids only getting stronger.

Hyundai Ioniq powertrains

Given Hyundai’s current propensity for building class-leading models, you can expect the Ioniq to hit the ground running. A unique feature already announced is the option to choose from three powertrains – a pure electric model with a short range but exceedingly cheap running costs; a petrol plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that’s better suited to longer journeys; and a petrol-electric hybrid mid-point that’ll be cheaper to buy than the PHEV, but not quite as frugal on fuel.

While the Prius favours a CVT gearbox that’s often criticised for its noisy operation, the Ioniq is tipped to come with a dual-clutch transmission that should offer smoother, quicker changes, while allowing the car to return excellent fuel economy.

Hyundai Ioniq design

Hyundai has created a totally new platform to carry its advanced powertrains. Using a mixture of very high strength steel and lightweight aluminium, the Ioniq has structural strength only where it’s needed to protect occupants in a crash.

Hyundai hasn’t lost its sense of fun and claims that, despite its efficient hybrid billing, the Ioniq will be fun to drive. It’s positioned the heavy battery pack low down in the structure and in a location to optimise the centre of gravity to deliver great handling. Backing this up is the brand’s independent rear suspension setup that delivers better grip and ride quality than the cheaper torsion beam employed by most basic hatchbacks.

Hyundai Ioniq hybrid system

To make the most of the car’s advanced platform, Hyundai has ensured the powertrain is equally forward thinking. The combination of a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor isn’t that unheard of in this market sector but Hyundai’s engineers have ensured it’s not ‘just another’ hybrid system.

The petrol engine produces 104hp but its more exciting figure is the 40 per cent thermal efficiency – a class leading figure for a petrol engine. This indicates that 40 per cent of the total energy available in the fuel it uses is turned into useful energy, i.e. pushing you forward and not wasted as heat or sound. Considering most petrol engines struggle to hit 25 per cent, this is a huge achievement from the brand.

Coupled the engine is a 43hp electric motor and the whole package sends its power to the wheels via a six-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox. The ‘box itself transfers energy to the wheels with 95.7 per cent efficiency – another class leading figure. This highly developed drivetrain means the Ioniq is guaranteed to be exceptionally efficient out on the road.

Hyundai Ioniq styling

As with the Prius it aims to topple, the Ioniq will be a five-door hatchback. Hyundai’s teaser pic hints the new model will get an aerodynamically styled front bumper complete with large air vents on either side of the company’s chrome-runged corporate grille. In profile the car’s shown with a distinctive crease that runs from the back of the front wheels to the tail lights, and it has a tapered rear end to help it cut though the air more efficiently. You can expect aerodynamic touches to include things like a roof-mounted spoiler, lowered ride height and under-body cladding to help smooth the airflow beneath the car.

Hyundai Ioniq interior

Compared to some hybrids – the BMW i3 springs to mind – the Ioniq’s interior looks to be fairly conventional. Nevertheless, the teaser pic released by Hyundai seems to indicate it gets a digital instrument binnacle and a large centre display – one of which will doubtless relay information on the workings of the car’s various powertrains. To appeal to families as the Prius does, the Ioniq needs to offer decent rear legroom and a big boot.

Hyundai Ioniq price and release date

With the Toyota Prius priced from £22,000 we would expect a basic Ioniq to cost about the same, but this should be confirmed closer to the car’s reveal at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show in March.

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