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Used test: Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

The Hyundai Ioniq is one of our favourite hybrid cars, but how does it stack up against the Toyota Prius, and which makes more sense used? We have the answer...

Used test: Hyundai Ioniq vs Toyota Prius

The Contenders

Hyundai Ioniq 1.6 GDi Hybrid Premium

List price when new: £21,795

Price today: £17,000*

Available from: 2016-present

The Ioniq is supposed to be a sporty hybrid to drive, but can it do the sensible stuff as well as a used Prius?

Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Hybrid Active

List price when new: £23,600

Price today: £20,000*

Available from: 2016-present

Well made, economical and practical – but rather anonymous to drive? Can it fend off a challenge from a used Ioniq?

*Price today is based on a 2016 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing

Diesel, it seems, has fallen from favour. Its share of new car sales has fallen dramatically in recent years as buyers turn to alternative-fuelled vehicles for fear of not being able to drive their diesel-powered cars in many UK cities while also avoiding tax penalties.

Why, you may ask, does this matter to those buying used? Well, people looking for second-hand cars haven’t been so easily put off because diesel cars still offer great fuel economy figures – particularly important for high-mileage drivers. However, fewer people choosing a new diesel car means that the pool of used diesel cars will inevitably shrink in a few years, which could lead to price premiums due to limited availability. So, are there any fuel-sipping used alternatives out there? Of course there are. Just take a look at these two parsimonious hybrids: the multiple-award-winning Hyundai Ioniq and the Toyota Prius.

Both are powered by trick hybrid systems that combine an efficient petrol engine with an electric motor, and both have advanced recuperation systems that harvest electricity to recharge their batteries. They both seat five and are practical hatchbacks, but which one of the two is the best used hybrid to buy? Read on to find out.

Used Hyundai Ioniq


What are they like to drive? 

Do these hybrids match a regular Volkswagen Golf diesel for pace? Broadly, yes; both have relatively sprightly performance. The Ioniq can be momentarily hesitant when you step on the accelerator pedal to pull away, but once it’s on the move, it picks up pace smartly and gets to motorway speeds with ease. The Prius isn’t quite as nippy from a standstill or when building speed for an overtake.

Tickle the accelerator of either car, and as long as there’s charge in the battery, it will pull off and keep up with city traffic on eerily silent, pure electric power. However, push the accelerator farther and the petrol engine kicks in; you can’t feel this, but you can hear it. It creates a background hum at a cruise, but this rises to a monotone drone during acceleration.

Used Toyota Prius

This noise is more prevalent in the Prius due to its CVT automatic gearbox. As you accelerate, it suddenly sends the engine revs soaring and they stay high until you lift off the accelerator, which is a bit irksome. The Ioniq’s six-speed automatic ’box slips through its gears as smoothly, but offers the option to shift gears manually – something you can’t do in the Prius.

The Prius’s brakes are grabbier, too, making it harder to drive smoothly in stop-start traffic, and there’s more road noise. At motorway speeds, however, wind noise in the Prius is as well contained as it is in the Ioniq.

You won’t have your fillings rattled out in either car. The Ioniq is a touch firmer, handing the softer Prius the laurels for smoothing out scruffy road surfaces and speed humps. The Ioniq feels better tied down, though; it bounces around less over dips and crests.

The Ioniq is much more agile, too. Its stiffer suspension helps it stay flatter through corners, and its steering delivers more feedback, building a good amount of weight so you can measure your steering inputs with greater accuracy. That said, by class standards, the Prius is still a tidy handler, and its slightly lighter steering makes it a little easier to park.

Next: What are they like inside? >

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