The Hyundai Ioniq holds the honour of being the cheapest fully electric car on sale in Australia today. This is one of only two electric cars with a sub $50,000 list price. The other is the $49,990 Nissan Leaf.
But you don’t have to buy a fully electric version if you don’t want to. The Ioniq is also one of the few cars in Australia available with a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric drivetrains.
This makes the Ioniq a compelling choice for families looking for a budget, eco-friendly car. But what is the Ioniq like to live with daily? Is it a substitute for a conventionally powered family saloon? Keep on reading to find out.
Despite rising in price by $1000 for the 2022 model year, the Ioniq still offers pretty good value for money. There are two trim levels available, Elite and Premium. Both come well equipped and offer plenty of safety equipment as standard.
All models are equipped with:
16-inch alloy wheels
Adaptive cruise control with stop/go technology
Automatic high-beam headlights
Autonomous emergency braking
Front, front-side and curtain airbags
Rear parking sensors
8-speaker Infinity premium sound system
DAB+ digital radio
Electric Elite models are equipped with:
Paddle shift gear selector
Keyless entry and start
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter
LED daytime running lights
Electronic parking brake
Range-topping Premium models are equipped with:
Front parking sensors
10-way power driver’s seat
Power-folding exterior mirrors
7.0-inch digital instrument cluster display
Heated steering wheel
Qi wireless phone charging
Rear cross-traffic alert
Heated and ventilated front seats
This might be a budget hybrid/electric car, but you’d never know it from the inside. The quality of materials is impressive, with high-quality soft-touch plastic used throughout. This makes the car feel more expensive than it is.
The dashboard is dominated by a 10.25-inch touchscreen display. This is easy to use and provides access to the navigation and infotainment system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is also included and plays through an 8-speaker Infinity sound system.
However, while front-seat passengers are well catered for, back seat passengers are left wanting. There are no rear USB ports which may be a problem for families and the rear legroom feels a little tight. Anyone over 185cm tall will find the rear seats a little cramped.
Outside the Ioniq looks like a traditional family hatchback. The fastback styling takes cues from the iconic Toyota Prius and you don’t get any of the postmodern design touches of the newer and much more expensive Ioniq 5.
But that is no bad thing. Expressive styling can put conservative buyers off. Most families don’t want a car that shouts from the rooftops, they just want a smart, understated car that is practical and easy to drive. And the Hyundai Ioniq fits that bill perfectly.
Both hybrid and electric models look almost identical. The only visible difference is the active shutters integrated into the front grille of the electric model. These open at 50 Kmh to keep the battery cool.
Engine and Transmission
As we already mentioned, the Ioniq is one of the few cars in Australia available with either hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full-electric drivetrains.
The standard hybrid version comes with a naturally aspirated 1.6L engine supplemented by an electric motor. A compact 1.56kWh lithium battery delivers power to the motor, while the drive is delivered through a six-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission.
The plug-in hybrid is equipped with the same 1.6L engine, motor and transmission as the standard model. But it comes with a larger 8.9kWh battery. This allows the plug-in hybrid to travel much further on electric power alone. Hyundai says the power output for this engine-transmission combination is a respectable 104kW.
The pure electric version is driven by a single electric motor that drives the front wheels. The motor is powered by a 38.3kWh lithium-ion battery. Hyundai claims a range of around 311 km is possible on a single charge. While this is respectable for an electric-powered vehicle, it’s not class-leading.
Ioniq Hybrid 1.6L – 3.4/100km combined
Ioniq Electric 100kW – 311km range
The Ioniq has a five-star ANCAP safety rating, the highest score available. Tested in 2019, the Ioniq scored 90 per cent for adult protection and 80 per cent for child protection. While vulnerable road users achieved a remarkable 70 per cent rating.
The car also comes with a range of driver safety assist features. Autonomous emergency braking and lane assist are fitted to all models, while pedestrian protection and rear cross-traffic alerts are available as an option on Premium models.
Electric Elite 1 SP Auto – $49,970
Electric Premium 1 SP Auto – $54,010
Hybrid Premium 1.6L Hybrid Auto – $41,390
Plug-in Hybrid Premium 1.6L Auto – $47,950
Pros and Cons
Excellent build quality
Big price increase over the previous model
Limited rear legroom
Not the most dynamic drive
The Ioniq is a rare thing in the Australian market. Few cars offer a choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrains in a single model. This makes it a compelling choice for families looking for a budget environmentally friendly vehicle.
The Ioniq also benefits from Australian specific suspension which is tuned for our pockmarked roads. This does a good job of smoothing out the bumps without disturbing the dynamics too much.
So should you buy the Ioniq? This depends on whether you are ready to go full-electric. The base model electric Elite is currently the cheapest electric car in Australia and it’s a significantly better car than the only other sub $50,000 electric vehicle the Nissan Leaf.
However, buyers not ready to go full-electric will find plenty of other hybrid and plug-in hybrid options available in the sub $50,000 range. The Toyota Corolla Hybrid for example comes just as well equipped and is significantly cheaper than the Ioniq Hybrid.
Other options to consider
Toyota Corolla Hybrid
The Corolla offers class-leading efficiency for a Hybrid. And it remains one of the best handling cars in its class. But this generation of Corolla is four years old now and it's starting to feel dated. The infotainment system is laggy and the 8-inch screen has poor resolution. And while efficient, the powertrain lacks straight-line performance.
Tesla Model 3
The Tesla Model 3 remains the benchmark for electric vehicles. On the road, the Model 3 handles as well as any of its European or Japanese rivals. And it goes faster and travels further than any other electric sedan. But Tesla's build quality still leaves a little to be desired. And you’ll have to wait close to 9 months before you get your hands on one.
The award-winning Volvo XC40 is one of the few cars available in Australia with petrol, diesel, hybrid and pure electric drivetrains. On the road, the supple suspension handles Australia's pockmarked roads with ease. While the interior has that understated luxury feel the brand is famous for. All-in-all this is a great allrounder that should be on your list.