Cutting down your fuel use with a hybrid car is one way you can save cash as a new dad.
Hybrid vehicles have been available in Australia for more than 20 years but they still only represent a very small percentage of vehicles on the road today.
After what has seemed a long period of inactivity, we are now starting to see hybrid models being offered by all the major manufacturers as the industry tries to reduce its reliance on internal combustion engines and fossil fuel.
Hyundai has just launched its first hybrid model in Australia, the Ioniq. It is available with three power options, hybrid (powered by a petrol engine and electric motor working in tandem) plug-in hybrid (also powered by a petrol engine and an electric motor with the added advantage of being able to recharge the battery via the mains electricity and electric (powered solely by an electric motor).
The Ioniq is a five-door, five-seater liftback and is offered in two models – Elite and Premium – each with the option of the three power trains.
Direct Advice for Dads was provided with the Ioniq Hybrid Premium, which is priced at $38,990 — which is $5,000 more than the entry-level Elite. The only option offered on either variant is metallic or mica paint for $495.
Strap ’em in
The Ioniq is about the same size as the Toyota Prius hybrid and fits into the small sedan market segment. Interior space is surprisingly good for a vehicle that sits in this part of the market.
With a rear-facing baby seat set up behind the passenger seat I can comfortably sit in the front with a little bit of space between my knees and the glove box.
With the baby seat set up behind the driver’s seat, space in the front was a bit tight to be able to drive with any degree of comfort, or safety.
Two baby seats will fit comfortably in the back seat and there are two ISOFIX fittings and the top tether points are located on the back of the rear seats making them nice and easy to access with no need for any extension straps.
Cabin space in the Ioniq is good with plenty of room for both front and back seat passengers.
The Premium model has leather seats that are comfortable and though grey is the dominant colour throughout the cabin I liked the look and feel of the interior.
There are soft plastics on all the main touch points and the dash is well laid-out with easy access to everything.
The top of the range also comes with electrically adjustable seats, that can be both heated and cooled, so finding the perfect driving position was an easy operation and the flat-bottomed steering wheel, which can be heated, was comfortable.
While forward vision was good I felt the spoiler that split the rear window made the rear view too cluttered.
There was good storage in the front with two cup holders, bottle holders in the doors and plenty of storage in the centre console. There are also bottle holders in the rear doors.
The rear passengers also get additional air conditioning ducts. Getting the baby in and out of the baby seat was relatively easy, though, not unexpectedly, you will need to bend down a little more than you would to access a similar-sized SUV.
On the road, the Ioniq cabin is nice and quiet with virtually no noise intruding into the cabin and when you combine that with a quiet power train it makes for a relaxing drive experience.
The boot space is not too bad, (563-litres) you can fit a large pram in the back but it takes up most of the space so anything else needs to be stacked on top.
We have a smaller pusher we use and as you can see from the picture there is enough space to get a bit of shopping or a few small bags with all the essentials you need in around it.
If you are not using the baby seats, the rear seat can be folded down to create a very reasonable 1518-litres and the back seat can be split which creates more usable space, even with the pram in the back.
While the tailgate is quite big it does not feel heavy when opening or closing it and does not open too high, making it difficult for shorter people to reach.
There is a full-size spare wheel under the cargo floor.
Euro NCPAP Safety Rating: 5 stars
The Ioniq was crash tested by Euro NCPAP in 2016 and scored the maximum five stars.
It scored 91 per cent for adult occupant safety, 80 per cent for child protection and 70 per cent for pedestrian protection. It was also given a score of 82 per cent for safety assist technology.
It comes standard with dual front, and curtain airbags as well as a driver knee airbag. Autonomous emergency braking, lane support systems and adaptive cruise control are all standard.
Hyundai is aiming to make an impression with its first hybrid in the Australian market and has loaded the Ioniq with all the latest technology.
Both models come standard with Hyundai’s SmartSense active safety technology that includes forward collision avoidance, blind spot warning, driver attention warning, lane keeping assist, active cruise control and a reverse camera with rear parking sensors.
The premium model we tested also has front park assist. There is no doubt all of this technology will reduce the number of accidents on the road but I felt the lane keeping assist was too intrusive – I felt like I was constantly fighting the steering wheel as it turned to keep the vehicle in its lane.
While I am not a believer in switching off any technology in a car – especially systems designed to protect you and your family – I did turn off the lane keeping technology.
On the other hand, my wife had no idea what I was talking about, suggesting that maybe I was just having trouble keeping the car in its lane and therefore the technology needed to constantly intervene.
Inside the cabin there is a seven-inch touch screen that controls everything from the entertainment, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, to satellite navigation and graphics to monitor hybrid system.
It also has a wireless phone charger (something that will be appreciated more as more phones become compatible), auto headlights and wipers and keyless entry and start.
It also comes with a host of USB and 12 volt power points for the front seat passengers but, alas, nothing for the little folk in the rear seats.
As soon as I get behind the wheel of any hybrid vehicle I suddenly become very competitive about how economically I can drive it.
I find myself lifting my right foot, just slightly, to try and keep it in electric only mode for as long as I can and keep the fuel consumption down as low as I can.
I think it is all the graphics that you can set up right in front of you that show you whether you are using the electric, petrol or both engines, how much power you are re-generating back into the battery and the percentage of time you have driven economically, normally or aggressively.
During the test period I used 4.1L/100km of fuel which gave the Ioniq a range of just over 1000km (and that is in the metropolitan area not on some long, straight, flat country road) from its 45-litre tank – and with the price of fuel today, that has to be a good thing.
While hybrid cars are all about reducing fuel bills and our reliance on fossil fuel, the Ioniq is also an enjoyable car to drive, and will respond surprisingly well, when asked.
The 1.6-litre four cylinder engine generates 77kW and 147Nm of torque but when you add the electric motor into the equation you have 104kW and 265Nm at your beck and call.
Like all Hyundai models, the steering and suspension have been tuned specifically for Australian conditions and the engineers in charge have a good feel on how to achieve the right balance between a comfortable ride and good road handling.
The six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission was smooth and I did not notice any of the slow speed jitters that can sometimes be an issue with this style of transmission.
The wife’s take
The profile of this car was very sporty but I am not a fan of the split rear windows that seem to be growing in popularity.
To me, the centrally-placed spoiler is just an obstruction to your rear view.
The interior also had a sporty feel with exposed stitching on the upholstery and a small, flat bottomed steering wheel that was comfortable to use.
I really liked the display on the GPS. It had clear graphics which gave you plenty of notice about upcoming turns.
On the downside, it was not predictive at all. You had to enter the entire address. The boot space was adequate but not huge.
On the road, it was a super quiet ride and pretty comfortable.
Footnote: My wife did not notice the change between electric motor and engine and was quite surprised when I told her it was a hybrid. “At least that explains why it was so quiet,” she said. (This highlights what a good job Hyundai has done of integrating the petrol and electric motor.)
“I really liked the display on the GPS. It had clear graphics which gave you plenty of notice about upcoming turns.”
The Hyundai Ioniq makes a lot of sense as a family car.
It is big enough to comfortably handle a couple of baby seats in the back and even a rear facing capsule behind the passenger seat is not going to cause any issues, in terms of leg space, for most people.
It has all the safety technology that would be on my must-have list in terms of looking after the family and helping make the journey enjoyable.
It is enjoyable to drive and very economical. With a 1000km range it will not only reduce your number of visits to the petrol station but enable you to target the times when fuel prices are more heavily discounted.
Toyota Prius Base
Price: $36,440 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 1.8-litre four cylinder engine and two electric motors (72kW/147Nm) with a Continuously Variable automatic transmission.
The Prius is a refined car that provides a surprising amount of driving enjoyment, despite its low output. The base model is reasonably well equipped, though it does not have as much as the Hyundai, and space is pretty similar to the Ioniq. The big difference is with the Prius everyone will know you are driving a hybrid.
Toyota Camry Hybrid SL
Price: $41,990 RRP
Engine/Transmission: 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor (160kW/221Nm) with a Continuously Variable automatic transmission.
The Camry is a bigger vehicle than the Ioniq and Prius but if you are looking for a hybrid then it is well worth consideration, especially if you look at the base model with a starting price of just over $30,000. It provides a more sporty drive than the Prius, has more interior and boot space and a reasonable suite of safety technology.
• Price: $38,990
• Warranty: Standard five years with unlimited km and 12 months complimentary roadside assist.
• Servicing: Recommended 12 months /15,000km intervals with set price for the first five years at a GST inclusive cost of $265 (15k), $265 (30k), $265 (45k), $465 (60k), $265 (75k).
• Fuel Consumption: 3.4-3.9L/100km (official) 4.1L/100km (during test)
• Engine: 1.6-litre direct injection petrol engine and 1.56kW Lithium Ion Battery
• Power: 77kW/147Nm (engine) 32kW/170Nm (electric motor) 104kW (total)
• Transmission: Six-speed dual clutch automatic
• Visit HBF for a tailored insurance quote
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