DRIVEN: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, thinking out of the box

The Malaysian vehicle marketplace is fairly predictable, but every as soon as in a blue moon, someone will spring a surprise. And as surprises go, the introduction of the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid late final year (yes, we’re in 2017!) was a large a single. It is not just the availability of the Korean green car right here either – the timing, the reality that it is locally assembled, the pricing everything was scarcely believable to pundits and competitor brands alike.

It has been awhile given that a normal, non-plug-in hybrid vehicle was launched in Malaysia. Ever because the tax-cost-free window of chance for CBU hybrids (and electric vehicles) ended in 2013, the two Japanese companies that profited the most from the battery rush have stopped advertising the genre. Understandably so, as without government incentives, costs ballooned to the usual high levels that we pay for imported cars.

Hybrid automobiles produced a recent comeback, but the proponents this time are premium brands pushing plug-in hybrids. The little batch locally assembled PHEVs may be great value compared to pure petrol/diesel variants inside the range – thanks to tax breaks – but they are in the end luxury vehicles that are out of attain for most. Enter the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid.

The Ioniq is Hyundai’s very first international green car, and apart from this standard hybrid version, it was also created to accommodate plug-in hybrid and pure electric systems from the commence. That is rather unique in the green vehicle planet. Toyota’s Prius is synonymous with hybrids, and there’s a plug-in version of it, but no complete EV. Nissan’s Leaf is the world’s greatest promoting EV, but you can’t have it any other way.

It is not future-proofing on Hyundai’s component either – all three types of propulsion are prepared to roll. This three-in-one at a single go move is both aggressive and impressive, and it makes it possible for clients to choose the level of electrification they’re ready to embrace. The regular hybrid – the very first step of the ladder – is expected to be the strongest seller, and this is the sole choice for Malaysia.

The Ioniq Hybrid went on sale in the UK in Q4 2016, and will only debut in the US this year, which signifies that we’re pretty swift off the mark here. Not undesirable for a CBU import, but it’s not – our Ioniq is locally assembled in Kulim to be eligible for CKD Energy Efficient Vehicle (EEV) incentives. That tends to make Malaysia the initial and only location outdoors of Ulsan in South Korea to assemble the Ioniq.

The Ioniq Hybrid is powered by a 1.six litre Kappa GDI engine, the direct injection Atkinson cycle unit producing 105 PS at five,700 rpm and 147 Nm of torque at four,000 rpm. Hyundai claims that this internal combustion engine has the world’s highest thermal efficiency at 40%. Interestingly, Toyota also claims the same 40% figure for the present fourth-generation Prius.

The engine is mated to a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor with 44 PS (32 kW) and 170 Nm, a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which sends drive to the front wheels. The combined system output from the engine and electric motor is 141 PS and 265 Nm.

Higher efficiency was a primary goal, so that most of what is created is utilised. In addition to the ICE’s minimal losses – helped by the Atkinson cycle’s decreased intake pumping loss, EGR program and split cooling for the head and block – Hyundai claims that the electric motor achieves more than 95% efficiency and the DCT gearbox delivers class-major transmission efficiency of 95.7%.

Hyundai’s selection of lithium-ion polymer batteries for the Ioniq is all-natural – it is the best tech in town. Compared to the Ni-MH products in Toyota HSD and older Honda IMA hybrids, the a lot more advanced LiPo batteries boast decrease memory sensitivity, better charge/discharge efficiency and greater max output. Before you ask, the Ioniq’s batteries are supplied by LG Chem, and not Samsung SDI of Galaxy Note 7 flame. I meant fame.

Situated beneath the rear seats, the battery pack is shielded by a four-stage protection technique. In any case, the Ioniq is not only a Euro NCAP 5-star rated vehicle, the security physique has integrated it in its ‘Best in Class Vehicles of 2016’ list.

The battery pack’s “extra low” position contributes to the Ioniq’s low centre of gravity. Not only is its CoG of 535 mm decrease than the Elantra (562) and Veloster coupe’s (545) figures, it’s slightly far better than that of the Mk7 Volkswagen Golf GTI at 538 mm, Hyundai points out. Other contributing elements that suck the vehicle to the road are lightweight panels on the upper body and downforce that is among the lowest in the C-segment.

To be efficient, a auto has to be aerodynamic, and Hyundai has put in significantly work to keep the Cd figure down. At Cd .24, the Ioniq matches the newest Prius in aero terms whilst managing to appear a lot better.

Air resistance is minimised by a streamlined basic shape, air curtains that decrease vortex around the wheels (also helped by plastic inserts on the alloy rim spokes, which is a much far more elegant answer than plastic wheel caps), an integrated rear spoiler and active air flaps on the grille, which open only when needed. A smooth underbody with directed airflow courtesy of the front lip and wheel deflectors also aid the trigger.

Hyundai has employed aluminium whenever feasible. Apart from the aluminium hood and liftgate, which save a combined 12.6 kg, the lightweight material functions in the front back beam, front lower arm and knuckles, rear carriers and even the front brake calipers. The organization also utilised a high proportion of ultra higher strength steel (53.5%) and expanded the use of structural adhesives to reinforce welded seams.

The tech is sound, but so is what’s below the new Prius. One of the important points that sets the Ioniq apart, for me, is how it looks. The standard “hybrid profile”, as noticed on the prior-generation Prius and Honda Insight, is employed here for its aero qualities, but the shape has been fleshed out to look substantial and sporty. Good width, wheels pushed out to the edges and good proportions – a lot like how a 5-door Honda CR-Z would appear, I imagine.

The measuring tape backs it up. Compared to the Elantra MD – one particular of the most dynamic-seeking sedans in its class – the bootless Ioniq is 80 mm shorter (4,470 mm), but 45 mm wider (1,820 mm). The hatchback’s wheelbase is par for the C-segment course at two,700 mm, which matches the Elantra, Corolla Altis and Civic FC. No high-profile eco tyres here – the Ioniq rolls on 17-inch alloys and 225/45 Michelin Primacy three rubber, and the arches are nicely filled as a result.

It was Hyundai’s intention to make the Ioniq appear as standard as feasible, and I consider they’ve succeeded. The aero bits are well-integrated, exemplified by these trick wheel spoke fillers. Blue accent strips on the lower edge of the front and rear bumpers hint at the Ioniq’s eco status. Only if it doesn’t clash with the major body colour, even though – red and blue vehicles get grey strips.

To these eyes, whilst the Ioniq’s front finish is bold (huge grille, distinctive LED daytime running lights), the car’s ideal angle is from the rear 3 quarter, and I caught myself stealing glances at this K-pop star’s high-waisted, pert behind way as well frequently. Not plain nor overdesigned – the Ioniq appears quite excellent for an eco automobile.

The sense of normalcy continues inside, where the Ioniq sports a conventionally stacked dashboard with an instrument binnacle in the driver’s line of sight. No nonsense black on black is the theme right here, livened by blue highlights ringing the air con vents and push start button. The locally-fitted leather seats have matching blue stitching, so does the piping of the floor mats.

No central controller here, so it’s a simple centre stack. The touchscreen is a factory head unit in this very first batch of automobiles, but we realize that an Android system is below development. The latter will permit one particular to use popular navigation apps such as Waze on the car’s own screen, as observed in preceding Hyundai-Sime Darby efforts.

I’m not confident if numerous would use it, but I like the ‘Driver Only’ AC fan button, which caters to my weird habit of using ‘just enough’ air con when driving solo. There’s a Qi wireless smartphone charging panel as properly.

Even though the dash layout may not look sci-fi in the way the Prius does, there’s a higher tech really feel in right here courtesy of the digital instrument panel. Suitable speedometer aside (hybrids normally use a digital speed readout), it’s common hybrid fare, with Energy/Eco/Charge and battery level bars at every single end. To the principal dial’s proper is a screen that shows the Ioniq’s range of active safety systems at operate. An assortment of buttons on the steering wheel and under the driver’s AC vent manage these functions. Much more on this later.

You have been waiting to hear how it drives, and properly, the Ioniq drives a like a properly-sorted typical automobile. Don’t be also fast with the ‘meh’ response though, due to the fact this is right after all a committed hybrid model, and these items usually offer you small in the way of driver appeal. The Prius, for instance, has marvelled with its effectively-integrated and effective tech over the generations, but only the deranged would drive it spiritedly – such is the Toyota’s concentrate.

Push the start button and the auto comes alive in EV mode with out engine noise. You inch away with a gentle right foot, but the engine fires up at the smallest prod, which may surprise those familiar with Toyota HSD. This is regardless of the battery bar showing adequate levels of charge. Also unlike the Prius, there’s no EV button to force the Ioniq to run on battery power alone. Hyundai claims that the Ioniq can glide in EV mode up to 120 km/h, but from experience, this will be challenging to accomplish.

So, is this far more like a Honda IMA-style ‘assist’ hybrid rather than Toyota’s ‘full’ hybrid? No, since although Honda’s engine is permanently on and the e-motor assists whenever attainable, the Ioniq’s ICE goes to sleep when situations permit, which you will know when the EV ECO light in the meter panel comes on. The Hyundai is capable of operating purely on electric energy, but on its own terms. Keep in mind, the point was to make it as ‘normal’ as feasible.

So you quit fretting, drive it like you would a standard auto and leave the power juggling to the hybrid system. You will notice the seamless entry and exit the Kappa tends to make, which is far more like the Prius than standard vehicles with shuddering auto start-cease. Following awhile, you’ll forget that it’s a hybrid, such is the cohesiveness of the method.

It is effortless to do so, due to the fact with a dual-clutch automatic, the Ioniq feels a lot more dynamic and ‘connected’ than any other hybrid with the exception of the unicorn Honda CR-Z manual. Unlike everybody else in the CVT camp, the Ioniq driver gets to take pleasure in rev and sensation that’s in sync with his appropriate foot input. Feels fairly liberating for me, who like most of you, have been conditioned by the Japanese to think that there’s only a single variety of automatic gearbox for a hybrid.

It’s a excellent DCT as well, this in-house effort. This is my 1st time sampling it, and the six-speeder is very smooth and invisible in urban driving, which is not a offered for dry dual-clutch units. Shifts are smooth overlaps alternatively of the snappy changes made popular by Volkswagen’s DSG – lending a traditional auto feel to issues, which is appropriate for this application.

The seamless urban progress could be because there’s lowered interaction in between the DCT and the ICE at low speeds, where the electric motor normally does its job. This tends to make the transmission’s job easier, which should also boost reliability as standing starts, low rpm operate and partial clutch situations in site visitors are high on friction and tension for DCTs.

On the identical note, Hyundai tells us that its DCT was developed to have numerous serviceable parts – if one part surrenders, it can be changed independently of the gearbox. By the way, the Ioniq comes with a 5-year/300,000 km warranty. The hybrid battery has an eight-year unlimited mileage warranty, and it charges significantly less than RM10k should you require to replace it after the warranty period.

Back on the road, you step on it and realise that there’s no robust electric torque wave to push you along, which caught this hybrid driver by surprise. The Ioniq accelerates in a much more natural and progressive nature than some hybrids, which once again ties in with its ‘normal car’ ethos. Ditto the amount of engine braking. The Japanese may argue that it is a less effective way to arrive at the speed you want, but it sure feels greater.

The slightly soft delivery led us to try out the Sport mode, which perked things up considerably. Clearly not an afterthought, the racier mode sharpens up the throttle and response, whilst adding more resistance to the steering. The speedo morphs into a red-tinged rev counter, with digital speed readout in the middle. Never mind the latter although, since it’s a difference one can inform blindfolded.

We began by saying that the Ioniq drives like a properly-sorted non-hybrid auto. Accomplished with how ‘unhybrid’ it is, let’s zoom in on the ‘well-sorted’ portion. The fact that the half-day drive event integrated some twisty backroads plus a slalom and high speed lane change exercising on an airstrip were clues that this is no ordinary hybrid, but 1 that will not really feel like a fish out of water when hustled.

Correct adequate, the Ioniq is game for becoming driven enthusiastically. It shocked with a low rate of body roll and impressive grip on the road (it rained in components), with steering that’s quick and direct sufficient for winding roads. No funny feeling from the energy-harvesting brakes, despite the fact that pedal response is not the most progressive and lacks some initial bite.

Greatest of all, the suspension delivered a good blend of handle and comfort, in spite of the rather huge wheels. That’s one thing that has typically tripped up Korean cars that our area gets, but the Ioniq is properly-damped and feels Euro-tuned. There was 1 specific mid-corner dip in the road that I thought would have troubled the Hyundai, but no, it didn’t drop balance or trajectory. It was only later that I realised a multi-link rear suspension was specified more than the anticipated torsion beam, but independent or not, tuning is vital.

The slalom and emergency lane alter exercising firmly sealed our on-road observations. The Ioniq’s low centre of gravity delivers actual planet positive aspects – its inherent stability meant that ESC wasn’t needed even in the difficult, virtually violent switchbacks we attempted in the enclosed location. Miles greater to drive than an Elantra and not as well far from the best of the Continentals, I’d say. By no means mind the dynamic comparison with hybrid cars, the Ioniq is a excellent drive, period.

It does the mundane quite well too. Rolling refinement is good, and the Ioniq’s effectively-grounded nature comes to the fore in high speed cruising as effectively – with three onboard, we held a continual 150 km/h with no realising it. I like the driving position too the seat goes down very low for a non-sports auto. The several buttons and menus might take some understanding, but when familiar, need to pose no ergonomic problems. The rudimentary foot-operated parking brake is rather jarring in a higher-tech package, though.

Some notes from the back seat. Rear headroom wasn’t a difficulty for this 175 cm passenger and the seat base length was just good, which means that those who are taller might have to attempt the rear quarters for size. The Ioniq’s lengthy wheelbase may lead some to anticipate generous legroom – while sufficient, it’s not as roomy down there compared to sedans such as the Honda City and Civic (think Euro C-hatch). The dual-zone air con remains cold when the engine is off, and there are rear vents.

Final but not least is the Ioniq’s lengthy list of safety features. Best level crashworthiness aside, the RM100k regular spec auto comes with seven airbags (dual front, side, curtain and driver’s knee), ABS, brake help, hill-commence assist and Automobile Stability Management, which is very good.

But our top spec HEV Plus tester grabs headlines by adding on blind spot detection, autonomous emergency braking, lane hold help and adaptive cruise control for just RM111k. It’s unprecedented at this price point. All the functions were sampled and operate as advertised.

A single huge question that a half day session shared among three drivers couldn’t answer is fuel consumption. HSDM is most likely not highlighting the official figure – which is 29.4 km/l in the European cycle – to stay away from higher expectations and the inevitable disappointment (or worse, anger) when the claimed FC is not achievable in the genuine world.

As a guide, the US Environmental Protection Agency released fuel economy figures for the Ioniq final month, and the Hyundai’s 54 mpg highway, 55 mpg city and 55 mpg combined figures beat the Prius’ 50/54/52 score, so very good FC is somewhat assured. It might not drive like a typical hybrid, but the Ioniq confident sips fuel like one particular.

So, what do we make of the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid? On paper, this was the deal of 2016, hands down. But it’s far more than just a good deal, it is a great drive as well, and proof that it’s possible to deliver hybrid economy with out completely ignoring driver appeal. The Ioniq does not conform to the hybrid template set by the incumbents, and is the much better for it. New pondering and new possibilities indeed.

Paul Tan&#039s Automotive News

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