Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In engines, drive & performance

You can make fairly rapid progress in the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In – once the gearbox has decided what it wants to do

Hybrid cars like the Ioniq Plug-In combine the best of both automotive worlds: an electric motor and a petrol engine. On their own, performance is rather modest, but when combined, they help the Ioniq to get off the line smartly.

Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In hybrid engine, 0-62mph and acceleration

The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In features a 60bhp electric motor coupled with a 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine. Together, they provide the same level of performance as a turbocharged diesel car, accelerating from 0-62mph in just over 10.5 seconds and reaching a top speed of 111mph. However, thanks to the instant torque of its electric motor, the Ioniq feels quite brisk from a standstill, even if the Toyota Prius Plug-In ultimately feels faster once on the move. In-gear acceleration is also usefully strong; accelerating from 50-70mph takes only 13.2 seconds – useful when joining a motorway from a slip road.

Unless you’re using EV mode, the petrol engine cuts in with reasonable refinement when required, but the dual-clutch six-speed automatic gearbox isn’t the cleverest around; it can feel sluggish when changing up through the gears or if you suddenly need a spurt of acceleration. Similarly, the combination of regenerative braking and traditional steel brake discs can lead to a jerky feel when you’re slowing down for a roundabout or the traffic lights.

You get a choice of driving modes, including an EV mode that keeps the Ioniq in all-electric mode until the battery life is almost drained. Using just the electric motor allows for smooth and very quiet progress in town, and we imagine most owners will try to make maximum use of this feature by recharging the battery at home every night. But with only 60bhp on tap, you may start to hold up traffic along challenging country lanes or on motorway inclines, so this mode is best used in town only. In hybrid mode, the Ioniq does a good job of juggling electric and petrol power, while attempting to use the electric motor more often than the Ioniq Hybrid model.

Handling

The Hyundai Ioniq isn’t as good to drive as a Toyota Prius. Its ride is too firm, with the wheels springing back harshly over lumps and bumps; the Prius is smoother over the same surfaces. Also, the Ioniq isn’t as comfortable as its Japanese rival, because the chassis feels more unsettled and nervous compared with the more forgiving Toyota. There’s also more road noise in the Ioniq.

There's a fair amount of body lean if you throw the car at a corner, but you'll find that a pretty unsatisfying exercise. That's because while the steering is accurate enough, it’s devoid of feel, so you’re never quite sure what the front wheels are doing. In addition, the tyres are designed for economy rather than grip – this is a car that likes to take things easy rather than be hustled down a twisty road.