Hyundai Ioniq hatchback (2019 - ) review
The Ioniq is an eco-car with three different electrified powertrains. Available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-electric form, it’s a rival for cars like the Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius and more.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
This Ioniq is a facelifted version of the car launched in 2016, and while not a huge amount has changed, that’s no bad thing, because Hyundai was already onto a winner. With minor cosmetic changes and an increase to the range of the Ioniq Electric, it remains an impressive machine that comes in different flavours to suit different needs. The drawbacks to electrified cars remain, namely a lack of effectiveness over long-distance drives, but for town-dwellers and those that make shorter journeys, this is a car well worth looking at.
- Low tax implications
- Standard automatic gearbox
- Handling isn't brilliant
- Ride can be unsettled
- Restricted rear headroom
Interested in buying a Hyundai Ioniq?
How good does it look?
Little has changed in this facelifted version of the Ioniq, save for small cosmetic elements like the grille and tweaks to the bumper designs of all versions. The head and taillights are slightly different too, but you’d have to look at this and the original model side-by-side to really notice any difference. The Ioniq was designed with aerodynamics at the fore, aiming to extract every last drop of energy from whatever power source you choose. The Electric model has a grille that hides the charging port, and active flaps that open when needed to provide cooling to the motor. The Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid models have mesh grilles.
Exact specs vary depending on what version of which type of Ioniq you go for. The Hybrid comes in SE Connect, Premium and Premium SE forms, while the Plug-In Hybrid and Electric models, which cost a bit more, have only Premium and Premium SE trims. All come with alloy wheels between 15 and 17 inches in size.
What's the interior like?
The mid-life overhaul is more comprehensive inside, with a redesigned dashboard with a 10-.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system on all models except the Hybrid SE Connect, which gets a smaller, less capable 8.0-inch screen. The bigger system gets sat-nav and various connected features like live traffic updates, map updates and BlueLink, which is IoniqHyundai’s telematics service. Depending on which model you have, it lets you use a smartphone app to check charge, find parking spaces, lock and unlock the doors and more. At first use, we’ve found it straightforward to operate with plenty of features.
Build quality, by and large, is pretty good, save for a few cheap-feeling plastics here and there. The driving position is also decent, with plenty of adjustment in both seat and steering column.
How practical is it?
Driver and front seat passenger will have plenty of space in which to dwell, but there’s much less space in the back thanks to the coupe-like roofline, which robs rear seat passengers of quite a lot of headroom. The shape of the split rear window also means visibility out of the back window isn’t brilliant. Boot space varies depending on which model you go for, thanks to the various sizes of electrical gubbins under the surface, but the Hybrid has the most space with 443 litres, with the Electric at 357 and the Plug-In Hybrid at 341. You can fold the rear seats down almost flat, which opens it up a bit, but it’s not a particularly capacious load-lugger.
What's it like to drive?
We’ve only tried the Electric version of the latest Ioniq so far. It’s heavy, thanks to all that battery power, and can sometimes feel weighty and lethargic through the bends, although as the weight is mounted low down, it still feels composed.
The ride isn’t bad either, keeping things pretty supple most of the time, but rougher road surfaces will see the suspension struggle to keep the worst bumps out of the cabin. We’d hope that with less weight, the Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid models might feel a bit more agile, and our experience of the previous car suggest that'll be so. This is a car that’s been designed for fuel-efficiency, and it doesn’t like being pushed hard, but it’ll cruise pretty well.
How powerful is it?
With three types of Ioniq come three power sources. We’ve tried the Electric, which is the only one to be updated for 2019 onwards. The battery is bigger than the earlier Electric, and gives slightly more power, up to 136 horsepower. The extra juice isn’t really noticeable in terms of performance, but it’s still nicely nippy away from the line and easy to drive. Energy is recouped during the drive when you lift of the accelerator or brake, and you can change how much it does this using paddles on the steering wheel. More regeneration has a braking effect when you lift off the right-hand pedal, to the point where in the highest setting you hardly need to use the brake pedal at all.
The change in battery means a larger range for the Electric, up to 194 miles on a single charge (according to WLTP measurements). That should be more than enough for a large number of potential customers, and it’ll charge from flat to 100% in six hours using a 7Kw charger.
We haven’t tried the revamped Hybrid or Plug-In Hybrid, but as the mechanicals of those haven’t changed, we’d be confident to say that they’ll perform the same as they did previously. Unlike the Toyota Prius, the Ioniq Hybrid cannot be instructed to drive solely in electric mode, no matter how high its battery stock. You’ll be lucky to make 10mph before the petrol engine kicks into life, but once you’re up to speed, the car can run in electric-only mode at speeds up to 75mph. Thankfully, the transitions from electric drive to combined mode are smooth, and providing you don’t call for maximum warp speed, the petrol engine is reasonably subdued, too. If you do need all-at-once acceleration, the mechanical cacophony emanating from under the bonnet becomes a little bit intrusive, but you have to really flog it before it becomes rowdy.
The Plug-In Hybrid has a similarly relaxed, easy-going nature, and performance levels are also very similar, but the difference is that it can run on electric-only power for up to 26 miles, meaning most people’s commutes can be dealt with by the battery alone.
How much will it cost me?
Exact running costs will depend on which version you go for, but as a rough guide, we’ve found that the Ioniq Hybrid is slightly cheaper to buy than Toyota’s less-powerful Prius, but strong resale values and slightly better fuel economy on the Toyota should make it a bit cheaper to run. The Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid is considerably cheaper than the Prius Plug-In Hybrid, but again, strong predicted resale values could make the Toyota a stronger financial bet. Judicious charging, to avoid petrol usage, could save you a lot of money on fuel in either version though.
As far as the electric model goes, we don’t yet have predicted resale values for the revised car, so it’s hard to predict full running costs. But it’s a similar price to buy as Nissan’s equivalent Leaf, and can go further on a charge.
How reliable is it?
Hyundai has an excellent reputation for reliability, storming in at third overall in JD Power’s 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study, which ranks manufacturers by overall performance. Our owner reviews have also been largely positive, which makes us fairly confident that Ioniq owners shouldn’t have too many problems. Should that not be the case, Hyundai offers a very decent five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
How safe is it?
The Ioniq is materially unchanged from the car that scored the full five stars in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2016, which means it holds up rather well in a collision. All cars get front, side, curtain and driver’s knee airbags and two rear Isofix child seat mounting points, as well as automatic emergency braking and a lane departure warning system. Higher-end models also get a bling spot detection system and rear cross traffic alert, which warns of oncoming traffic when you’re reversing out of a parking space.
How much equipment do I get?
The Ioniq Hybrid is the only model to get an entry-level SE Connect trim, but even that is well kitted-out, with dual-zone air-conditioning, automatic headlights, heated electric door mirrors and a rear parking camera and sensors. All three models get Premium and Premium SE trims too, which vary only slightly between the three Ioniq models.
Premium cars have chrome surrounds on the windows, LED headlights and heating for the seats and steering wheel, as well as keyless entry and start and the larger, more advanced infotainment system and a better stereo. Premium SE models add ventilated front seats to keep you cool in the summer, heating for the rear seats and electric seat adjustment, as well as adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors.
If the majority of your driving is done in city centres, the Ioniq is well worth considering, especially the EV version. It provides low running costs for urbanites and low taxation for all, offering plenty of interior space, lots of standard kit and the convenience of an automatic gearbox. The Ioniq is also well finished, solidly built and attractively priced. For this type of money, it’s as good as hybrid-electric technology gets.