Electric cars are grabbing all the headlines at the moment, and it’s easy to see why. They offer rock-bottom running costs with the benefit of a great driving experience as well.
But fully electric vehicles are still in their infancy, and they don’t provide enough range for most people to run one as their only vehicle. That’s where the latest addition to our fleet comes in.
The Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid combines its 45kW electric motor with a traditional 1.6-litre petrol engine, which means there’s no range anxiety; simply fill up with petrol as you would with a normal car, and you can drive the length and breadth of the country without the worry that you won’t be able to charge up en route.
That’s not the point of this plug-in hybrid, though, because since the engine has a heavy battery to pull around, the petrol powerplant isn’t particularly economical on its own. Where the Ioniq really starts to click is for someone like me.
I live in Surrey, but the Auto Express office is around 30 miles away in central London. That means the Hyundai’s all-electric range of 39 miles will take me all the way to the office car park without the engine even coming on.
However, I don’t commute into town all the time: I also spend some days driving around the country conducting the road tests you read each week – so even if I find myself with 100 miles or more to cover in the morning, I won’t have to dig out another means of transportation.
For the Ioniq to work perfectly, though, it needs to be charged both at home and while I’m at work. It takes around four-and-a-half hours for a full charge on a home wall box (Hyundai’s recommended 7kW POD Point is free of charge thanks to a Government grant) or public point, but 12 hours via a three-pin plug. As our work car park has only a single fast charger, which is often already taken, I’ve had to head out and plug in at one of London’s many on-street stations.
The Ioniq’s sat-nav comes with a built-in list of the nearest charging points, so it’s easy to select one from the list and head straight there.
Unfortunately, the capital is such a hotspot for EVs that the nearest free charger is often a long way from the office. Even with a high concentration of public points, a plug-in hybrid relies on access to private, or at least reliably available, charging. As we spend more time with the car we’ll report on how well it fulfils its brief.
Official figures claim economy of 256.8mpg. Our goal isn’t to see if the car can match that, but to find out how well the Ioniq combines the best of EVs and traditionally fuelled models.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.