Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In review

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In is now both more economical and cheaper than its Toyota Prius rival, thanks to a recent update for 2020

£29,950 - £31,950
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Refined petrol engine
  • Very good economy
  • Room for five adults

Cons

  • Dull to drive
  • Interior materials feel cheap
  • Just over 30-mile electric range
Car type Electric range MPG CO2
Plug-in hybrid 32 miles 257mpg 26g/km

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid was one of the first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models to really make an impression in the UK, and it goes head-to-head with its most obvious rival, the Toyota Prius Plug-In. Previously, the Toyota held the edge when it came to running costs, but an update introduced in 2019 for the 2020 model year means the Ioniq Plug-In now bests its Japanese rival for on both running costs and list price.

The Ioniq Plug-In is both more expensive and less popular than the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, but although that model is capable of returning impressive fuel economy, it can't match the zero-emissions capability of its plug-in sibling. The Kia Niro PHEV is another potential rival.

Plug-in hybrids can run in electric mode or with the petrol engine and electric motor operating in tandem – the range on electric power alone isn’t as good as that of a dedicated electric car but, as the name suggests, you can plug it in to charge the batteries. Or you can simply let the petrol engine and brake regeneration keep the batteries topped up.

If you stick to driving in town, the Ioniq Plug-In is capable of some amazing economy figures, officially at least. Keep that battery juiced up and the official figures say the combination of battery life and petrol power can return up to 257mpg, with CO2 emissions of just 26g/km.

The Ioniq Plug-In features a 60bhp electric motor (instead of the 43bhp unit fitted in the Ioniq Hybrid), along with the same 104bhp 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine. That extra power gives performance a helping hand – you’ll get to 62mph from rest in 10.6 seconds (compared to 10.8 for the Hybrid).

You’ll have no complaints in town, with the Hyundai getting away quite smartly from the lights, although the Toyota Prius Plug-In is even more responsive. Drive gently and the electric motor will be the only thing powering the Ioniq. Put your foot down, though, and the petrol engine will cut in to assist. It’s a fairly refined thing that’s especially well suited to congested city streets and urban roads.

Switch the Ioniq to EV mode, which stops the petrol engine from cutting in, and you’ll be running on electric power for about 30 miles – useful if your journey starts or ends in a city. The Ioniq’s default mode is Hybrid, which smoothly alternates between electric and petrol power. As of the late 2019 update, the Plug-In now lets you control the strength of its regenerative braking effect using paddles on the back of the steering wheel.

The Ioniq has been engineered with economy in mind, with low-resistance tyres, a hybrid powertrain and light steering – all of which means the driving experience is a bit numb. However, the dual-clutch automatic gearbox allows for snappy gearchanges and comfort is generally good, even if some harsh bumps can jar.

Hyundai created the Ioniq with a plug-in hybrid powertrain in mind from the outset. That allowed the designers to make the most of the car’s interior – there’s room for five adults inside and the boot capacity matches that the Ioniq Electric, with 341 litres of luggage space.

You shouldn’t have to worry about reliability, but even if things do go wrong, Hyundai provides a five-year/unlimited-mileage warranty on the vehicle and an eight-year warranty on the battery. And if you should be unfortunate enough to have an accident, the Ioniq offers some of the best protection for occupants – it received a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, with impressive section scores.

You get plenty of equipment as standard on Hyundais, and the Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid is no exception, with an infotainment system featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus LED headlights. There’s lots to keep tech-heads happy. then, but don’t examine the plastics too closely – some of them look and feel a bit low-rent.

Overall, despite a higher price than its Hybrid stablemate, the better fuel economy of the Plug-In gives it greater appeal. Not only that, but we reckon it's more well rounded overall than the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid it competes with.

For a more detailed look at the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In Hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.