Hyundai says it wants to be be able to offer its buyers a choice of every type of powertrain in the very near future — and one needs look no further than the Ioniq to see the plan in action.
The small sedan is the only car in Australia available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric vehicle and, despite only arriving in Australia barely a year ago, the range has been given a makeover.
The fully electric version — which is the biggest seller of the trio, making up 42 per cent of Ioniq sales — has had the most work done.
Its battery capacity has been bumped up from 28kWh to 38.3kWh, which has two benefits: its range has jumped a significant 33 per cent to 311km and its power output has risen from 88kW to 100kW.
The battery is also now liquid cooled rather than air-cooled, to make it last longer.
A bump in capacity also brings a bump in charge time.
A commercial 50kW or 100kW DC fast-charging station will provide a 0 to 80 per cent charge in 54-57 minutes. The onboard AC charger has increased to 7.2kW, meaning owners can have a charging unit installed in their home which will fully charge the battery in six hours.
If you can’t find a charging station or don’t want to install one in your home, a standard household outlet will take 17.5 hours to reach full charge from zero. Elsewhere, the hybrid and plug-in hybrid remain unchanged mechanically.
The hybrid still claims a frugal 3.4-3.9L/100km depending on the size of wheels you opt for, while the plug-in still has 63km of electric driving and claims 1.1L/100km overall — the lowest economy figure of any plug-in on the Australian market.
All models get a slightly tweaked exterior, with new front and rear LEDs and revised bumper.
There are bigger changes inside, with a completely new dashboard featuring back-lit capacitive buttons for the heating and cooling controls, a slimmer crash pad and a big 10.25-inch infotainment display as standard being the headline changes.
Also standard is Hyundai’s SmartSense safety tech suite, which now includes new features such as high-beam assist, lane following assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go and leading departure alert, which monitors the vehicle ahead when stopped in traffic and will remind you to move if you’re still stationary after the car in front has driven away.
Each powertrain can be had in Elite or Premium trim levels, with the Premium generally adding extra flourishes such as leather surfaces and heated steering wheels.
We had the chance to drive all three variants on the roads north of Sydney and the changes to the electric version were certainly noticeable.
You can feel the uptick in power and it is comforting to have a range with a “3” at the front.
Hyundai has also done further local work to the chassis, which means all variants are comfortable cruisers.
Though it arguably makes sense as the logical middle ground between traditional and green technology, the plug-in is the least enjoyable to drive, with the combination of engine and battery pack making it feel heavy — which isn’t aided by relatively dead steering on centre.
It could be why it’s the lowest-selling Ioniq, making up just 22 per cent of sales. The hybrid is a well-equipped and frugal — if pricey — small car, though the interior changes do make the cabin feel far more upmarket and befitting of the high price tag.
Ah yes, the price.
The hybrid and plug-in’s extra gear has only come with a negligible $800-$1000 price rise, but the electric has risen a hefty $3500.
This means the Premium version has broken the $50,000 mark, a big barrier in a lot of potential buyers’ minds.
Hyundai concedes the cost of battery materials remains high and forces manufacturers to choose between offering a generous battery size (and therefore, range and performance) or a competitive price.
That won’t always be the case, but for now EVs will likely only appeal to those who specifically want electric power, as opposed to your average small car buyer.
But Hyundai has at least started positioning itself to take advantage when the change inevitably comes.
Variant Elite Hybrid; Premium Hybrid
Price $34,790; $39,990
Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol hybrid
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Thirst 3.4L/100km (15-inch wheels); 3.9L/100km (17-inch wheels)
Variant Elite Plug-in Hybrid; Premium Plug-in Hybrid
Price $41,990; $46,490
Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol plug-in hybrid
Transmission Six-speed automatic
Electric range 63km
Variant Elite Electric; Premium Electric
Price $48,490; $52,490
Engine Electric motor with 38.3kWh lithium-ion polymer battery
Transmission Single speed reduction gear