With its petrol engine and electric motor working together in the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid, performance is pretty good – both are quicker than a Toyota Prius and similar to many regular diesel hatchbacks, but slower than, say, a Volkswagen Golf GTE.
The standard six-speed dual-clutch gearbox in both models can make them hesitant off the line but, once you’re up and running, it changes swiftly and slickly through its gears. There’s also a manual option (using paddles) so you can hold onto a gear for better engine braking on steep descents.
In town, the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid will pull away in near silence on electric power alone. You need to tread gingerly on the accelerator to avoid the petrol engine cutting in, but when it does the transition is smooth, the only tell-tale sign being some background engine thrum. It’s disappointing, though, that even after selecting pure-EV mode on the plug-in model the engine will cut in on anything more than a slight incline.
The EV model is quicker off the line, utilising its electric motor’s instant low-down shove to sprint away from the lights sharply and with barely a sound. Like most EVs, though, it starts to feel more pedestrian beyond 50mph, although for town use, where it’s designed to be used, that’s no issue.
Not surprisingly, the Ioniq has been set up to handle well in urban areas, where its steering is light and easy to manage. Get the Hybrid out on faster B-roads and it’s good there as well. The steering stays a little on the light side – there is a Sport mode which adds too much weight – but it’s accurate and throws in enough resistance as you apply lock to help you place the car easily. Lots of cornering grip and good body control add to the Ioniq’s talents, as do the smooth brakes. They’re not as grabby as the brakes on some other hybrids, which makes driving smoothly in stop-start traffic no effort at all.
Around town, the Hybrid rides a little more firmly than a Prius, but not to the extent of being uncomfortable. The payoff is a settled ride at faster speeds, especially if you encounter a set of long, wavy dips and troughs.
The Plug-in Hybrid and EV versions are less agreeable in this regard, a failing that can be attributed to their bigger, heavier batteries. The extra weight makes both cars noticeably less agile through turns and more punishing over patchy road surfaces.
At motorway speeds, all versions keep wind and road noise to a minimum, although you are more aware of these disturbances in the EV model due to the absence of background engine noise.