Toyota builds the gold standard of universally recognized and perceived green smugmobiles, the Prius. That company taught the world that its not enough to slap blue badges, a unique grille, and aero-slick wheels on a green variant of some workaday smog-producer, you have gotta make the car unique, and for bonus points, kinda weird-looking. Hyundai has at long last taken that advice onboard with the introduction of its Ioniq family of electrified vehicles, well, all but the kinda-weird-looking aspect. It will be available in three flavors.
Already on sale in its home market, the tip of the spear for this new family of green cars, arriving in December, will be the electric variant, possibly because this is the one configuration Toyota doesn't offer on the Prius. It features a 28-kWh battery packaged beneath the rear seat and rear cargo floor area sending power to a front-mounted 118-hp, 218-lb-ft electric motor capable of whisking it to 60 mph in 9.9 seconds in Sport mode (10.2 in normal). Paddle shifters allow toggling of the regen rate. Top speed is 103 mph and EPA range is said to be 124 miles (136 mpg-e combined). The charging system is prepared for 100-kW DC fast-charging, but most North American SAE DC quick-chargers can only deliver 50 kW today, at which rate it takes 23 minutes to recharge. Using a normal Level 2 AC charger at 6.6 kW, it takes about 4.5 hours. All of these performance parameters exceed those of the Nissan Leaf and VW e-Golf. Charging can be programmed to take advantage of off-peak electric rates, and of course the reconfigurable displays offer myriad eco coaching and EV-systems info screens.
The Ioniq EV will be available to order in all 50 states, but marketing efforts will be concentrated in the 10 states that have signed onto California emissions and (ZEV mandates) so do not expect dealers in the other 40 states to stock dealer inventory. An ultra-efficient heat pump provides year-round climate control, and a driver-only mode shuts off all other vents for increased efficiency when no one else is onboard. Hyundai claims that in real-world testing conducted with customers at the wheel, the aero-slick (0.24 Cd!) Ioniq proved to be more efficient than the VW e-Golf or Nissan Leaf. Distinguishing features of the Ioniq EV are its smooth, unslatted grille and copper-tone trim accents around the lower fascias and running boards and throughout the interior.
Following the EV by a matter of weeks in early 2017 will be the volume seller and straight-up Prius-fighting Ioniq Hybrid. Power comes from a 1.6-liter 103-hp,108-lb-ft Kappa engine augmented by a 43-hp,125-lb-ft electric motor sandwiched between the engine and the six-speed dual-clutch transaxle, and fed by a 1.56-kWh lithium-polymer battery that resides under the rear seat. That is more gasoline power and torque, and more electric torque than the Prius offers, and it is double the battery capacity of the Prius with the lithium-ion pack. Hyundai pegs 0-60-mph acceleration at 10.8 seconds. EPA fuel economy ratings for the Ioniq Blue model (which gets unique wheels/tires and some further lightweighting than the standard Ioniq Hybrid) are 57/59/58 mpg. That is a new high for non-plug-in models.
Much of the fuel-economy credit goes to that Kappa engine, which Hyundai claims is among the most thermodynamically efficient in the world, at 40 percent. That efficiency comes from an especially undersquare design, its stroke is 1.35 times its bore diameter, when competitors ratios typically fall in the 1.00-1.17 range. This reduces the surface area to cylinder volume ratio, minimizing heat lost to the water jacket. The head and block are cooled by separate circuits, with a cooler head (190 F) permitting more aggressive spark advance and a hotter block (221 F) reducing oil viscosity and friction. Direct injection pressure increases from 2,175 to 2,900 psi, and the injectors get six laser-drilled holes in a triangle pattern, with the middle two twice as large as the rest for optimum air-fuel mixing and minimal wall-wetting. A highly efficient new exhaust-gas cooler allows rates of exhaust-gas recirculation as high as 20 percent (about double the norm). This reduces cylinder temperatures and NOx levels while improving fuel economy by 3 percent. High compression of 13.0:1 and aggressive Atkinson cycle valve timing boosts low-load efficiency. Further contributing to the overall powertrain efficiency is the dual-clutch transmission, which boasts a torque transfer efficiency of 95.7 percent, and an overall gear ratio spread of 6.93 (typical planetary six-speed autos are much closer to 6.00).
Arriving in August of 2017 will be the plug-in variant, which upgrades the Ioniq HEV specification with a more powerful electric motor (60 hp up from 43) to support full electric driving over a broader range of acceleration (even with a full battery, the Kappa engine will fire up if you floor the accelerator past the kick-down detent switch). Fully kicked down, acceleration is a couple ticks quicker than in the HEV, at 10.6 seconds to 60 mph. The battery is enlarged to 8.90 kWh, which can support an all-electric driving range of 27-37 miles (if you can stay out of that kick-down switch). A full charge takes 2.5 hours with a home Level 2 charger, or 8 hours using the 120-volt, 12-amp cord that comes with the car.
Compared with its chief rival, the Prius Prime, the battery is slightly larger, the Ioniq PHEV range is slightly longer (27 versus 25 miles), and it offers seating for five, while the Prime seats four. EPA figures are not yet available for the 2018 Ioniq PHEV. Interestingly, the Ioniq family also employs a small lithium-ion 12-volt battery located in the trunk, which is charged via DC/DC converter. This battery also gets in on the Hyundai exclusive lifetime hybrid/electric battery warranty.
Stay tuned for first drives in the February 2017 timeframe.