Sunday, January 10, 2016

It’s The Hyundai Ioniq, The Hybrid That Could Save The V8

It’s Hyundai’s attempt to depose the Toyota Prius as the global go-to for a practical hybrid and Uber chariot of choice. It’s called the Ioniq, or, according to the press material, the IONIQ. But shouty capitalisation has never been something we pay much attention to here at TG.

Still, what we get is a front-driven, DCT-equipped hatchback that will eventually come in three flavours: pure electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid.

It’s been designed as a hybrid from the outset, though, and that’s what comes first. It features a 1.6-litre ‘Kappa’ GDi combustion engine rated at 103bhp, supplemented by a 45bhp permanent magnet electric motor, which should make it sprightly, if not outright fast.

There are some neat touches, mind. The bonnet, tailgate and several bits of suspension are aluminium to keep weight down - though the subsequent 12.6kg saving over regular steel isn’t game-changing - and the lithium-ion polymer batteries give a useful advantage over nickel-metal in terms of rapid charge/discharge.

The energy storage is also mounted low to keep the centre of gravity in the right place for decent dynamics, and proper multi-link rear suspension should benefit both ride and handling. Hyundai reckons that the Ioniq was created with ‘dynamic ride and handling at its core’, but that’s probably a claim worth considering in context. No one buys a Prius to have a giggle.

Interestingly, the new engine claims to have the world’s highest thermal efficiency at 40 per cent, thanks to a long-stroke design, which features a head and block split for separate cooling and cooled gas recirculation, giving something in the region of three per cent mpg gains alone.

When you consider most engines run thermal efficiency figures somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent, that’s big news, because the figures relate to how effective an engine is in turning fuel into power without losing the calories to heat.

No word on official figures yet, but expect Prius-beating claims of 65mpg-plus and ultra-low CO2 for the hybrid, with cleaner figures yet for the plug-in version. And no CO2 or gallons of fuel at all for the EV…

We know what you’re thinking, though. It looks a bit… boring. But we should embrace these ultra-efficient cars. As regulations on internal combustion cars tighten further, how about using a practical, efficient, economic little hybrid or EV for all the boring commuting stuff, helping offset something more interesting for the weekend?

Carbon offsetting a V8 muscle car, vintage hot hatch or classic Porsche: sounds way more appealing when you put it like that…

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