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A shadowy preview of the new Prius-fighting 2016 Hyundai Ioniq has been handed down today, ahead of an international unveiling due next month.

This first official image is joined by confirmation that the Ioniq’s production plan will mark a world first: the availability of petrol-electric hybrid, petrol-electric plug-in hybrid and full-electric powertrain options, all in the one model range.

The Ioniq has also been confirmed for a local launch in the second half of next year, making it the Korean carmaker’s first ultra-green offering in Australia – although the company has recently initiated a pilot program for its ix35 hydrogen fuel-cell SUV.

Speaking with CarAdvice today, Hyundai Australia’s Guido Schenken said that the Ioniq’s Australian debut will focus on the petrol-electric hybrid model, with the other variants still to be confirmed.

“We are also keen to bring the plug-in petrol-electric hybrid to Australia, when it is launched globally, however the business case is still being reviewed for our market,” he said.

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Above: the Ioniq has been spied testing in recent weeks. 

The fully electric model appears less likely for Australia, although it hasn’t been ruled out.

“All powertrain variants are under review for our market, we’re not ruling anything out at this stage,” Schenken said.

Full technical details for the Ioniq are still to come and, for now, the company’s local arm has yet to speak on the fully electric model’s potential for Australia.

The plug-in hybrid version will be able to fill the EV’s shoes to some extent, however, with the US-market Sonata PHEV already boasting an all-electric driving range of around 43 kilometres.

News of the Ioniq’s coming launch follows the recent unveiling of the new 77kW/147Nm 1.6-litre direct-injection Atkinson-cycle ‘Kappa’ engine, designed specifically for hybrid and plug-in hybrid applications.

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Hyundai has also confirmed that its new green car will be built on “an exclusive new platform” developed specifically for the three powertrain options that will be offered.

It will be thanks to that EV-focused architecture that Hyundai is confident in promising a “fun and responsive drive” experience – just as its key rival, the new Toyota Prius, has also been promised to offer.

The new-generation Prius will beat the Ioniq to Australia, with an early 2016 launch confirmed when the new hybrid was unveiled in September.

Today’s teaser suggests the Ioniq will appeal to buyers seeking a green car with a less polarising look, with the new Hyundai matching its advanced drive systems to a more conventional coupe-like profile.

Watch for the Ioniq to make its global debut in Korea next month, and then again at the Geneva and New York motor shows in March.

MORE: Hyundai news, reviews, pricing and specs




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