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by Tony West and Sommer Thornton
The Hyundai Ioniq is shaking up the competitive compact segment and stretching its boundaries.
The sporty Hyundai Ioniq is youthful, fun and cool. For 2018 along with the Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Electric, a new Ionic Plug-in Hybrid model is added that offers a whopping 650 mile driving range.
We reviewed the 2017/18 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Limited late last year, just before it dropped in the streets. The athletic hatch is impressive inside and out boasting more fresh style, functionality, safety and infotainment technology than its rivals Prius and Volt. The best part, the Ioniq, with descent cargo space and legroom retails starting at just $27,000.
Stylish Reincarnation of the Hatchback
Much of the design of the 2018 Ioniq is unchanged from 2017. Though the compact market is saturated, we’d be pressed to find a more sportingly stylish hatchback than the new Ioniq Hybrid. Bi-xenon HID headlights and C-shaped LED daytime running lights style the front fascia. LED headlights, LED taillights and power-folding side mirrors are standard on the Ioniq Electric. Chrome door handles are available.
Also new for the 2018 Ioniq Hybrid is a bold Scarlet Red exterior color adding to cool options like Symphony Air Silver, Electric Blue Metallic and Ceramic White. Fifteen-inch eco-spoke alloy wheels are standard on the Ioniq Hybrid with a two-tone design, while 17 inch wheels are optional.
Much of the exterior design focuses on aerodynamics and performance. Natural air flow channels emphasize aerodynamic efficiency. Fluid character lines run along the aluminum hood and the side of the Ioniq. A big hexagonal grille features an active air flap.
Front wheel air curtains plus a rear spoiler and diffuser all play an integral role in providing the Ioniq Hybrid with high-performance prowess. In fact, the athletic Ioniq boasts a segment-leading .24 coefficient drag.
The interior of the new Ioniq Hybrid is even more impressive, with a clutter-free layout that enriches comfort and functionality. In the Ioniq Hybrid Limited we reviewed, two-tone leather seats with contract stitching are standard. Storage is also impressive in the compact Ioniq with a large center console, large glove box and cubby holes in the center and at the doors.
The Ioniq cabin has 39 inches of front headroom and 42 inches of front legroom. While the rear has 37 inches of headroom and 35 inches for legroom. There are mid-size sedans $10-20k more that don’t offer that much interior space. Yet the Hyundai Ioniq is only five-feet long and about six-feet wide.
Space in the trunk of the Ioniq Hybrid tops 26 cu-ft, while the total volume of the Ionic interior is nearly 127 cu-ft! Five-foot tall Editor Sommer could sit comfortably inside the trunk.
Inside the Ioniq comfort and convenience is abundant. The Ioniq Hybrid boasts standard features like steering wheel controls for audio, cruise and voice command, a rearview camera, push button start, dual-zone climate control and 7 inch center touchscreen.
Optional features include a sunroof, LED interior illumination, 7 inch LCD instrument cluster, 8 inch center touchscreen, power front seats with memory and lumbar support, carpeted floor mats, leather wrapped steering wheel, and premium door sills plates.
The driver-focused Ioniq cabin is surprisingly comfortable for adults and teens, tall or short, wide or slim. The sporty seats hug the driver giving support for high-speed agility. Also cool is the dash display that can show the battery meter, eco monitor, and EV mode indicator to encourage more efficient driving.
Other infotainment features on the Ioniq include standard Bluetooth, HD Radio, Sirius XM Satellite Radio, Android Auto and Apply CarPlay. Sommer’s only issue was with the Bluetooth, which disabled every time she got in and out of the car.
The Ultimate Package adds an 8 inch center touchscreen with navigation, wireless charging, floor console rear vents, driver seat memory, and the Infinity Premium Audio System with eight speakers. The navigation system in the Ionic is great displaying road names, traffic and other details like construction zones and railroad crossings.
Hyundai designers were on-point making the Ioniq cabin fresh, futuristic and seamless. The compact Ioniq Hybrid’s performance is even more impressive.
Outstanding Performance Cremates Competitors
Who knew driving the Hyundai Ioniq could be more thrilling than a sporty coupe. It’s amazing how easy this compact whip is to drive. The Ioniq Hybrid we reviewed and the new Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid both have a 1.6 liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine with 104 horsepower and 109 lb-ft of torque. All three models have a permanent magnet synchronous motor.
The Ionic Hybrid has a 32 kW electric motor with 42 horsepower and the Plug-In Hybrid, a 60 horsepower electric motor. The Hyundai Ioniq Electric features a 118 horsepower electric motor with 215 lb-ft of torque. The Ioniq Hybrid and the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid both have a total output of 139 horsepower. All three models have a proficient lithium-ion polymer battery.
Efficiency is off-the-charts in all three Ioniq models, starting with the new Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid, which has a 52 mpg combined EPA, 119 mpg fuel economy in all-electric EV mode, and a 29-mile total electric range.
The Ioniq Hybrid Blue model has an EPA-estimated 58 mpg combined, the highest rating of any non-plug-in vehicle in the U.S. And the 2018 Ioniq Electric has the highest efficiency rating of any electric vehicle in the U.S. at 136 mpge. Significant weight reduction and ideal center of gravity is achieved in the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid by positioning the lithium ion battery under the passenger seats.
The new Ioniq accomplishes most of the powertrain goals it set achieving athletic cruising and agility at high and low speeds.
The Ioniq has a slight lag, probably because of its first-class hybrid technology. But after a reactive push-off, the whip accelerates, corners, and turns with assertiveness and precision.
The Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid feature a six-speed EcoShift dual-clutch transmission with class-leading transfer efficiency through use of low-friction bearings and low viscosity transmission oil.
Sport mode is our favorite feature on the Ioniq. In Sport mode, the Ioniq Hybrid’s trans holds lower gears longer. Braking is harder, steering tighter and throttle is fine-tuned. Sport mode is exceptional for this compact because of its aerodynamic features, efficient hybrid powertrain and lightweight components like the aluminum hood and lighter cargo cover. Sport mode actually made Sommer respect the normal comfort mode, which is astoundingly efficient. The gas meter seems to never go down, so Sport mode is almost encouraged.
Moreover the ride is smooth and well-balanced in all road conditions making the Ioniq an ideal car for a big-city dweller.
Macpherson strut front suspension and multilink rear suspension is standard on all three Ioniq models. It’s not the most resilient suspension, but it gets the job done.
Standard safety features on the Ioniq Hybrid we reviewed include the vehicle stability management system, Hill Start Assist, and the blind spot monitor. The $3,000 Ultimate Package adds a refined Lane Departure Warning System, rear parking sensors, dynamic bending headlights, smart cruise control and automatic emergency braking. For 2018 a very useful Lane Keeping Assist System compliments the lane departure warning.
Buyers of the new Ioniq will receive three years complimentary coverage for Blue Link Connected Care, Blue Link Remote and the Blue Link Guidance Package.
Blue Link brings connectivity directly into the car with technologies like Remote Start with Climate Control, Destination Search powered by Google®, Remote Door Lock/Unlock, Car Finder, Enhanced Roadside Assistance, and Stolen Vehicle Recovery.
Blue Link features can be accessed via buttons on the rearview mirror, the MyHyundai.com web portal, via the Blue Link smartphone app and now through the Amazon® Alexa Blue Link. Some features can also be controlled via Android Wear™ and Apple Watch™ smartwatch apps.
Owners of Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid and Electric will also be able manage and monitor their car’s charging schedule remotely via the Blue Link Remote Charge Management System.
The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq is destined to shake up the compact segment. Fully-loaded the whip is about $31k.
Check out more photos from our First Drive with the 2017/18 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid on our Facebook Page!