Launched by Hyundai under the scenic hills of Queenstown, this car is all-new, purpose built from the ground up and will be available in three platforms – hybrid, PHEV (plug-in hybrid), and all out full electric. The entry level electric is priced under $60k, setting a new benchmark in making EVs more accessible in New Zealand. We tested the EV and hybrid, because the PHEV isn’t set to be released until later in the year.
Similar in size to the Elantra, the IONIC sits on a light-weight chassis (with strength and safety front of mind), aided by the inclusion of aluminium in its body panels, suspension and braking components. Aerodynamically designed, the underbody is fully covered to reduce wind resistance on the EV and semi-covered for the hybrid.
Front-on, the difference between the two variants is easily detectable. As the EV has no engine system to cool, the front cone is completely smooth and closed in and it takes a while to get used to not seeing a front grille. The hybrid has quite a clever system behind the stylish grille; active computer controlled air flaps. This provides additional cooling when required, reduces drag when not needed and so contributes to further fuel savings.
The IONIQ comes in Entry and Elite variants and includes a few goodies that you would not expect from a vehicle that’s all about reducing power consumption. You have luxuries like a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, a wireless smart phone charging dock, and a premium Infinity sound system with 8 speakers including subwoofer.
Safety is not forgotten either. The Elite comes equipped with notable systems like blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control, and lane keep assist. The lane keep assist is very noticeable and did feel a bit intrusive at times.
The hybrid change-over from electric to petrol on our test route was seamless and we barely noticed it even happening. This is largely due to the fact that everything is so quiet inside the cabin. Or maybe I was just captivated by the beautiful Queenstown scenery.
EV IONIQ has a projected range of 210km. We managed the 175km test drive with a few kms to spare and conserving electricity didn’t cross my mind for the most part of the drive – it was only when I hit rush hour along the main street that I started to think about it. Day tripping though will still need to be carefully planned out to make sure you don’t suffer range anxiety all the way back home.
Hybrid Entry level is priced at $46,990, Elite at $52,990.
EV Entry level is just $59,990 and Elite is priced at $65,990.
We would expect to see the PHEV priced somewhere in the middle.