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hyundai ioniq review the other hyundai i d actually buy

Hyundai Ioniq review: The other Hyundai I’d actually buy

The other one is the Santa Fe but let’s focus on the cleaner, tree-hugging alternative, yes?

Christopher Ng Photo

Christopher Ng

2 Aug 2017

960 is the number of kilometres this Hyundai Ioniq can travel before needing the nearest watering hole. Resources aplenty — I have a full tank of petrol and a half-charged battery. I never got the battery to charge to full and this hybrid doesn’t let you plug-in. So this is your Regular Joe hybrid car.

Seeing the range is surprising given that the rest of the car doesn’t impress on first look. The shape is the typical tear-drop shape favoured by many for its wind-cheating ability. And to make it more aero, the Ioniq is engineered with active air flaps on the front grille that opens and shuts depending on the speed of the car. As with most alternative-fueled, passenger vehicle that can run the distance, the shape is rather familiar. I don’t have to mention names now, do it?

The interior looks better than the previous Hyundai vehicles I’ve been in; sportier also, methinks. The quality of the materials and the tactility of the buttons, switches and dials feels have been greatly improved. Flat bottomed steering and the instrument cluster display both looks a step above most of not just from Hyundai’s own stable but the brand’s local and international competitors as well. 

Underneath it all are a host of safety systems that shouldn’t be at this price point. The Ioniq benefits from a lane-keeping assist system, blind-spot detection, autonomous emergency brake and smart cruise control that maintains speed and distance from the car in front. All that on top of your usual alphabet soup of standard safety systems.

It makes me think that this car is supposed to be more expensive than its sticker price of just over RM100,000. But that’s not the reason why this is the other Hyundai I’d actually buy.

If there is one place where Hyundai lacks the most, and this goes across all of its sedans, is its drivability and handling. Not bad, mind you, just that it has a large hall for improvements. With that said, the Ioniq steers much better than some of the Hyundai’s I’ve driven last year; with more feeling too. 

Topping that is the Ioniq’s stiffer spring and dampers that puts the right balance in comfort — a little jarring over rougher tarmac and that incessant brick road that seems to appear within the vicinity of a construction yard. 

Moving the entire package forward is a 1.6-litre engine, running the Atkinson cycle, and an electric motor, each producing 104hp/147Nm and 43hp/170Nm respectively. Together, the system outputs 139hp and 265Nm of torque. Nice, especially when it accelerates with all the vim of a 2.0-litre engine.

To complete the drivetrain, Hyundai pairs the hybrid engine with a dual-clutch transmission. Which is out of the ordinary for the reason that one would usually find either a standard automatic transmission or a CVT; pick any hybrid on the road now and that will be what you’ll get. Although some weeks later, Honda will be releasing the Jazz Hybrid (even later, the City Hybrid) that will have a dual-clutch transmission.

It works, and with no stutter coming into first gear or jerking out of it, unlike that you’ll find tacked to the four-cylinder turbo-charged non-hybrid engines.  

The Ioniq shoves off purely in electric before letting the petrol engine in on the fun when you're putting pedal to the floor. Other than that, the Ioniq happily ambles about purely in electric right up to about 80kph even though Hyundai claims the Ioniq could stay in EV until 120kph. I don't know, if the road was as paper-flat and my feet were more fairy-like, maybe the claim in achievable. 

So coming out of Mid Valley on a Friday evening or looking for parking spot in the same place does not require fuel. It’s the same near-zero fuel consumed when you’re coasting on the highway, which almost makes the combustion engine a glorified electric charger.

That aside, I do like how seemingly efficient the drivetrain is to the point that it makes me feel that I am above the weekly fuel price fluctuation. I returned the car, after a 450km worth of battling through a congested city, ambling around town and going interstate, with are than a half-tank of fuel. The battery remaining at half-charge; I mentioned that I never ever got it to full. 

And that not-able-to-charge-to-full irked me a little bit. Well, that and the fact that I could not force the car into going full EV are just two negatives in what is actually a wholly positive experience. It’s surprising, given that lately Hyundai have been pumping out mediocrity in a sharp suit. Seekers of a simple and effective hybrid car — any C-Segment sedan for that matter — need to give the Hyundai Ioniq a go. Seriously.

Hyundai Ioniq Kappa 1.6 HEV Plus


1,580cc, inline-4, GDI, Atkinson-cycle

Power: 104hp @ 5,700rpm

Electric Motor

Permanent magnet synchronous electric motor

43hp, 173Nm

Combined Output

139hp, 265Nm


6-speed dual-clutch transmission, front-wheel drive


0-100kph in 11.1s, 185kph max speed, 3.4l/100km



Overall Rating

8 Rating