I’m kind of excited about this one. Its been a while since we’ve had new option in the hybrid sedan segment that doesn’t come with a European price tag or is just a face-lifted version of something that’s been in the market for years. Plus, its kind of easy on the eyes too.

The Ioniq is the world’s first car to be available with three different electrified power trains. While only the hybrid variant is currently available in the local market, PHEV and fully electric versions are on sale in other countries.

Finding its name through the combination of “Ion” and “Unique”. the Hyundai Ioniq first hit the scene in South Korea in January 2016, and hitting the global mark–ets later on in the year when Hyundai showed it off at the Geneva and New York automobile shows. Hyundai hasn’t really made waves in the hybrid market in the past, with majority of the develop–ment in the region coming from the big boys in Japan. Which is why Hyundai’s answer is so important. Instead of trying to enter the space by copying the Japanese, the South Korean manufacturer went ahead and declare war on the most popu–lar hybrid vehicle in the world, the Toyota Prius. No need to beat around the bush, the Hyundai Ioniq was built to take from the Prius its market share and its crown. How well it will accomplish this goal in Sri Lanka will be be a tough quest–ion to answer as it isn’t really down to how good or bad the car is, but more how willing the market is to trying something new.

The “unique” portion of the Ioniq shows itself in several places, especially with the dual-clutch transmission, instead of the CVT that pretty much all other Japanese hybrids tend to employ. But there are as many non-unique qualities as well. I’m sure you find the tear drop shaped body quite familiar looking.

Exterior

Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, the tear drop shape is very aerodynamic, that’s why the Prius and the short lived Insight both use this design. In fact, by employing this layout, the Ioniq is able to boast a class leading 0.24 drag coefficient. While this is great for fuel efficiency and noise, from side on, it does make it look like its got a little too much “junk in the trunk”. That’s about the only somewhat negative thing to say about the exterior design of the Ioniq.

The large black front grille which extends under the headlights and the blue lip on the lower bumper advertise the car’s environmentally friendly nature, while the straight edged headlights give the car a sporty, aggressive face. The days of “cute” front faces for green cars seems to be ending, thank goodness for that. The sloping roof with the upwardly angled door line, does mean that the rear windows are smaller than the front, but this is a common trend, especially with hybrid sedans—straight, flat lines are slowly going out of fashion, with more and more manufacturers opting to use angled lines to create a more dynamic appearance. Again, no cutesy green car nonsense, the Ioniq continues the more aggress–ive and sporty look that we’ve become expectant of in our cars.

Sitting on 17″ alloys, the Ioniq is quite stylish. There are 15″ rims available in other markets, and they do provide more savings, but those smaller rims do detract a little from the exterior appearance of the car when compared to the larger versions you get here.

Available in several colors, I have a feeling the ceramic white is going to be a big seller (we like our white cars). For those that are after a bit more pizzazz, you could opt for the Phoenix Orange or go for the more mysterious Summit Grey (I love the way car makers name their colors).

Interior

You ever notice how, when you get into a car left in the Sun, there’s a plastic smell? The reason behind that is the cheap plastic material used in some low to mid ranged cars, which do fine in colder clima–tes, but suffer in our local heat. You aren’t going to have to suffer thro–ugh that with the Ioniq.

Hyundai’s new soft touch interior is forged with volcanic rock and it is awesome (they do use plastic as well, but its the good stuff, not the melt in your pocket type stuff). High quality materials, combined with a simple layout means that the Ioniq is as pretty from the inside as it is from the outside. In fact, I’d say it was prettier on the inside, which is where it really counts. Let’s be realistic, if you buy this car, you’ll be spending more time in it than outside staring at it.

Up front, there’s no complaints, plenty of leg and head room. You’ve got a wireless charging bay just in front of the gear shift, along with your, now mandatory, 12v power port. The layout is easy to figure out and get used to, and I’m so glad they didn’t try to sell us the “I’m a Hybrid, look at all my weird designs and colors,” nonsense. I’m not saying that those kind of desi–gns don’t have a place, but I’m an adult, I don’t need the constant reminder that my car is “different.”

One low key feature that makes sooo much sense is the climate controls. First off, its got dual-zone climate control which is good. More importantly, and uniquely, its got a “Driver Only” setting, which shuts off all other vents except those for the driver. Realistically, most of us drive alone in the car most of the time, and this setting when you get in on a hot day is a God send.

Back seats do suffer a bit in terms of head room, those about 6foot may feel a little cramped, but just a little. Cargo-wise, with the seats up, you’ve got 26.5ft3 of space.

Performance

With a hybrid, there’s pretty much one thing that people want to know. Mileage. So the “test” numbers officially say 25km/l in mixed conditions, but as always with “official” data, you need to discount it a bit.

Now that we’ve got past that, lets talk about the actual drive. In standard mode, the Ioniq is pretty good, but that makes it pretty standard. Starts on battery, which means your start-stop driving in traffic isn’t going to drain the tank. As is usual, throttle response is a little on the slow side, so you’ll need to put your foot down a bit to get a quick boost when overtaking, but it does build up speed well.

With its strut front and multilink rear suspensions, you do get your usual bit of body roll in the corn–ers, but nothing more than what you’d expect, with very little under steer. The suspension does a good job keeping the ride quite smooth on city roads, and the seats provide an extra bit of padding to elevate driver fatigue. The driver’s seat is electric, with adjustable lumbar support, which makes for a more comfortable ride as well.

Where the Ioniq put a smile on my face was when I changed gears into sport mode. Before that, its important to know that you don’t get the standard CVT gearbox that you always find in hybrids, the Ioniq has a good old dual clutch system. Back to what I was saying, sport mode. Everything tightens up a bit, throttle response improves and the Ioniq finds its stride. More nimble and a lot more fun to drive, you are sacrificing fuel economy as the engine does do more work. I mean it doesn’t suddenly change into a 2 door sports car, but it definitely does make for a more drivers car than your usual hybrid affair. All in all, the Ioniq does its job of a hybrid, your daily commuter and the occasional long trip aren’t an issue for this car, perfect as a primary family car.

Conclusion

Its nice to have options, and the Hyundai Ioniq is most definitely an option. A very good one in fact. Price-wise, it is a little bit high, but its very much a case of “you get what you pay for.” The Ioniq’s appeal is two prong. Its a hybrid, so that’s great, but its also a good looking piece of machinery. And its pretty functional as well. Ok, so thats 3 prongs, but you get what I mean. The large boot space means that you don’t need to be economi–cal in your packing when going on a trip, only on your fuel.

It does a great job handling city conditions, and if you find yourself on the windy roads of Nuwara Eliya, late one night, slip her into sport mode and you’ll have a ton of fun. Inversely, if you are cruising down the highway with the kids in the back, no problem, the Ioniq will quietly eat up those highway miles with a reassuring calmness. So if you are in the market for a car, hybrid or otherwise, then you need to have this one on your list, its ok to be skeptical, a test drive should take care of that real quick.

 

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