2017 Hyundai Ioniq First Drive
Story and Photos by Mark Elias
Durham, North Carolina. Think of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq as a carton of Neapolitan ice cream. You know, the chocolate, vanilla and strawberry flavors neatly sorted inside a single container of Edy’s or Breyer’s finest. It’s simplistic but it sums up Hyundai’s latest offering into the field of alternative fuel vehicles.
While it’s not 31 Flavors, or even close, there’s something for everyone in this new compact alternative fuel vehicle. Just how green do you want to be is really the only question you need to answer.
A massive undertaking.
Designed with over 500 development engineers, this might be Hyundai’s Manhattan Project. But you have to admit they were smart about it. Instead of designing individual body styles to accommodate different forms and techniques for propulsion, Hyundai engineers developed one body that could accommodate a traditional hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric powertrain versions without radically altering the basic design.
And it is a handsome looker, at that.
The basic tenets are all there, starting with the hexagonal trademark grille that has fronted most vehicles in the Hyundai lineup for the past several years. New techniques including the use of front wheel air curtains, active air flap grills, rear spoilers, aero panels and undertray diffusers all do their part to help the Ioniq achieve a wind-cheating Cd of .24. That’s swoopy indeed. And no need to go mondo-bizarro in the body design: The Ioniq appears like a wind swept-modified version of its Elantra sibling.
Overall, Hyundai has stepped up the use of aluminum and high-strength steel along with more than 475 feet of structural adhesives throughout the vehicle in an effort to increase efficiency and cutting weight at the same time.
Get up and go.
Power for the Ioniq is derived from three different power supply systems. The limited mileage Ioniq Electric is a city car that utilizes a Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor producing 88kW with a horsepower equivalency of 118 ponies, and 215 lb-ft of torque. Battery power is delivered via a 360 volt Lithium-ion Polymer cell located under the rear seats. The combination of it all is delivered to the front wheels via a single-speed reduction gear transmission, and this model achieves a 136 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) and a range of 124-miles.
The Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid have certain similarities including a 1.6-liter direct-injection Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder that produces 104 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 109 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The standard Hybrid includes a 240 volt Lithium-ion Polymer battery that energizes a 32 kW electric motor that’s good for 43 horsepower, while the Plug-In Hybrid does the same with a 360 volt cell to charge the 44.5 kW motor that produces 60 horsepower. Net output from both engine/motor combos taps out at 139 horsepower. Not a fan of continuously variable transmissions? Hyundai has you covered with the utilization of a six-speed EcoShift dual clutch transmission in both hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.
More impressive is how Hyundai has managed to shrink the size of the Hybrid Power Control Unit, while making it more power-dense than its older Hyundai Sonata hybrid relatives. Speaking of power, Hyundai has incorporated an ECO Driving Assistant System for its Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid Ioniqs that checks a particular drive route using 3D mapping to enable Predictive Energy Management to optimize and regenerate battery usage depending on the terrain.
Ride control on all versions utilize a tried and true MacPherson strut arrangement at the front end with multilink kits at the rear of the Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid versions. The all-electric Ioniq makes do with a torsion beam rear axle. All versions steer with a power-assisted rack and pinion system to point their noses in the appropriate direction. Michelin is the exclusive tire manufacturer for the Ioniq, with Energy Saver meats sized from 15 to 17 inches depending on the vehicle model.
From a safety standpoint, the Ioniq doesn’t scrimp. Features such as Smart (adaptive) Cruise Control, lane keep assist, and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection provide partial braking from 5 to 112 mph and full braking from 5 to 50 mph.
Interior design of the 2017 Ioniq is directly in line with current standards, meaning that space-aged accoutrements that appeared in a Buck Rogers movie from 50-years ago won’t put you off. Instead, you will find plenty of features that look as contemporary as anything else on the road.
Contemporary can also mean stodgy and boring but the Ioniq goes beyond that. Innovation is everywhere, including on the doors. What, you say? The interior door panels are made of a plastic / powdered wood / volcanic stone combination that rightly mimics traditional petroleum-based materials, just minus the petroleum. Sugar cane by-products are applied to the headliner and carpet, while soybean oil is used in the composition of the car’s metallic colors.
Other innovations include a “driver only” mode, which reduces the drag on the Ioniq system by concentrating just on the driver’s zone to the exclusion of all others. It’s just the thing when you are driving alone to and from work.
Behind the wheel.
Our time behind the wheel of the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq featured sweeping turns along country roads throughout the Raleigh-Durham Research Triangle. Driving around seasoned but up-and-coming downtown Durham found a Hybrid and Plug-In Hybrid that purposefully was conservative in its habits, in an effort to behavior modify your way to good gas mileage. By and large, it did the trick and we easily found instant mileage readouts of 54.3 mpg from the gas-electric powertrain, while in that realm. Behaving as a hoon will quickly see the efficiency ratings plummet, but you knew that would happen anyway, right? A quick turn onto the on-ramp of Interstate 85 saw power-assisted mileage in the range of 48 to 50 mpg while cruising at normal what the traffic flow will bear speeds.
A flick of the wrist found us motoring in a rather engaging sport mode that had the gas 1.6-liter four-cylinder operating all the time with a power-assist from the electric motor for additional traction. Much more emotional that running in ECO mode, the Sport setting had the car delaying gear shifts longer, firming up the steering wheel, and changing the characteristics of the TFT digital gauge readout. Overall though, we realized we were being irresponsible in our pursuits, which had us switching back to ECO mode in rapid order.
Talk about behavior modification, indeed.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq
Ioniq Hybrid Base MSRP: $22,200
Ioniq Hybrid SEL MSRP: $23,950
Ioniq Hybrid Limited MSRP: $27,500
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Ioniq Electric MSRP: $29,500
Ioniq Electric Limited MSRP: $32,500
Ioniq Electric Ultimate MSRP: $36,000
Freight charges: $ 835