Hyundai Ioniq 2019 electric elite (grey grille), Hyundai Ioniq 2020 electric elite

2020 Hyundai Ioniq review

Australian first drive

The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric car range has been updated just 12 months after going on sale. There's more tech, but prices have risen.
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Hyundai has given its Ioniq hybrid and electric-car line-up a major makeover just 12 months after it went on sale.

The Hyundai Ioniq is the only car in local showrooms with a choice of hybrid (white in our gallery), plug-in hybrid (red) and pure electric power (blue).

While Japanese giant Toyota was one of the pioneers of hybrid – and by far the world’s biggest seller of the technology – Korean carmaker Hyundai is making massive inroads.

Indeed, the Hyundai Ioniq has outsold the Toyota Prius so far this year, although Toyota has expanded its hybrid power across more models including the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry and Toyota RAV4.

While debate continues about whether electric and hybrid cars pay their fair share of road tax – hybrids are more fuel-efficient so pay less in fuel excise, while plug-in hybrids and electric cars can avoid fuel excise altogether by running purely on battery power – Australians are beginning to embrace the new tech.

“We’ve seen a dramatic uplift in green car sales over the past two years,” says Scott Nargar, Hyundai’s senior manager for future mobility and government relations.

While the ‘green’ credentials of electric cars that run on coal-fired power – and the carbon footprint of manufacturing electric vehicles in the first place – can also be debated, there is no doubt more Australian customers are looking to save fuel or avoid petrol stations altogether.

Hyundai says hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles now account for 2.8 per cent of vehicle sales in Australia – more than doubling in the past five years.

Sales of pure electric vehicles alone are up by 650 per cent, even when not including Tesla which does not share its data.

Of that 2.8 per cent of the total car market that has some form of electric power, petrol-electric hybrids account for 91 per cent of the sales mix while pure electric cars represent 5 per cent ahead of plug-in hybrids (4 per cent).

“We can clearly see green car acceptance is continuing to grow in Australia and we are proud to be part of this journey,” says Nargar.

Hyundai is well placed for whichever technology buyers choose. At the moment, demand for the Hyundai Ioniq shows an interesting split: 42 per cent sold so far are pure electric, 37 per cent are hybrid and 21 per cent are for the plug-in hybrid.

The 2020 Hyundai Ioniq comes in for visual changes inside and out as well as a technology overhaul to boost the petrol-free driving range.

All three models get new headlights and tail-lights, a revised shield grille, new wheel designs, and a revamped interior.

Inside, all models come with a new 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen for infotainment, the instrument cluster gets a new digital dash display and conventional cabin control buttons have been replaced by touch buttons.

The design of the dash itself is completely new and uses softer materials for a more upmarket appearance. Mood lighting has been added so it looks high-tech at night.

Each of the three Hyundai Ioniq models is available in two grades: Elite and Premium.

The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid has had an $800 price rise and now starts from $34,790 plus on-road costs (about $38,700 drive-away according to Hyundai’s website), while the Premium version is up by $1000 and now starts from $39,990 plus on-road costs ($44,000 drive-away).

The price of both versions of the Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid are up by $1000. The plug-in hybrid Elite now starts from $41,990 plus on-road costs (about $46,000 drive-away) while the Premium costs from $46,490 plus on-road costs ($51,000 drive-away).

The Hyundai Ioniq pure electric car has had the biggest price rise ($3500) due to the fitment of a bigger battery pack. For now, battery technology is still getting dearer, not cheaper.

The Hyundai Ioniq electric in Elite grade now starts from $48,490 plus on-road costs (about $52,900 drive-away) while the Premium is $52,490 plus on-road costs ($57,000 drive-away).

All Elite models come with a new advanced safety pack which includes low- and high-speed autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control with traffic jam assistance, lane keeping technology, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, rear parking sensors and auto dipping high beams.

Premium models gain LED headlights, an electric park brake, a larger digital instrument cluster, heated and cooled front seats, a power adjustable driver’s seat, wireless phone charging, and front parking sensors.

All Hyundai Ioniq cars come with a sensor key with push-button start.

The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid comes with a choice of redesigned 15- and 17-inch alloy wheels depending on the model grade, while the plug-in and electric versions both ride on 16-inch alloys, albeit with a unique design.

Hybrid models come with a full size alloy spare wheel and tyre in the boot, but the plug-in hybrid and electric versions have no spare tyre and come only with an inflator kit.

Despite carrying a spare tyre the Ioniq hybrid has the most cargo space among the trio: 456 litres when measured to the top of the rear seats, 563 litres when measured to the roof, and 1518 litres when the back seats are folded flat.

Because the Ioniq plug-in hybrid must accomodate a fuel tank as well as a battery pack, cargo space is restricted to 341L/446L/1401L respectively.

To accomodate a much bigger battery pack, the pure electric Ioniq has 357L/462L/1417L in cargo space respectively.

Service intervals are 12 months/15,000km, whichever comes first, the same as most of Hyundai’s mainstream car range.

Hybrid and plug-in hybrid models cost $1525 for the first five routine services, while the pure electric model is $160 per visit (just $800 over five years/75,000km).

Warranty on the Hyundai Ioniq is five years/unlimited kilometres and the battery pack on all variants is covered for eight years/160,000km.

On the road

The biggest tech change to the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq range is to the pure electric model, which is where we spent most of our time behind the wheel during the media preview drive.

For a quick background on the other models, though, the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid carries over the same 1.6-litre petrol engine paired to a 32kW electric motor and 1.56kWh lithium-ion battery pack as before. Like the Toyota Prius, it is primarily designed to move the car from rest using the electric motor and the onboard battery pack recharges when the vehicle is braking or coasting.

The Hyundai Ioniq plug-in hybrid carries over the same 1.6-litre petrol engine paired to a 44.5kW electric motor and 8.9kWh battery pack as before. It promises 63km of driving range on battery power in ideal conditions before the petrol engine takes over, though most owners tell us real-world battery range is closer to 30km to 40km, depending on driving style and conditions.

The big news is the Hyundai Ioniq pure electric model. It has a new liquid cooled 38.3kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack (up from 28kWh), which has 37 per cent more capacity than before, a higher energy density, and a higher maximum power output.

The electric motor now has 100kW of power (up from 88kW) and Hyundai says the larger battery pack enables a real world driving range of 311km.

Using a commercial 100kW DC fast-charging station Hyundai says the Ioniq Electric can be charged from empty to 80 per cent of its capacity in 54 minutes (or 57 minutes when connected to a 50kW fast-charging station).

Using a personal charging station at home or work Hyundai says the car Ioniq be recharged in six hours and five minutes thanks to the increased capacity of the on-board AC charger to 7.2kW.

On a household power socket, however, it will take 17 hours and 30 minutes to recharge the Hyundai Ioniq from empty.

As with most Hyundais sold in Australia the Ioniq has benefited from local suspension tuning.

Each model has a slightly different suspension setting to suit the different weights of each car (1375kg to 1575kg depending on the variant and whether it is hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric) but they all have a familiar feel.

The 16-inch tyres on the electric model have a decent level of comfort and grip and are only noisy on coarse-chip surfaces.

Both the plug-in hybrid and pure electric models now have paddle shifters than enable the driver to increase the amount of regenerative braking (by increasing the resistance in the electric motor) by tapping the left paddle. Indeed, you can brake the car quite heavily this way, effectively turning it into a ‘one pedal’ mode if you so desire.

It works well enough – and having the flexibility to adjust the electric motor’s braking force is welcome – but of course slamming the brake pedal is the only way out of an emergency.

Lane-keeping or lane-centring systems work differently on different cars. Some struggle to detect the lane markings and work sporadically. The Hyundai Ioniq lane keeping system managed to ‘read’ the road more than half the time (when clearly marked) and managed to negotiate the first half of relatively tight turns.

But the intervention was aggressive and inconsistent and I reckon many drivers will switch it off (as we did) by pressing a button on the lower dash panel to the right of the steering wheel.

It’s not meant to be a race car but the Hyundai Ioniq Electric threaded its way through corners with comfort and ease.

The most telling aspect of the test drive, though, was that I wasn’t worried about driving range.

This is despite being sent on a long route on open and flowing roads where the speeds were typically between 80kmh and 100kmh – the worst conditions for an electric car. They prefer stop-start traffic so they can recapture some energy when braking.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to run it to empty but the battery pack had used about half of its capacity in a 160km drive, which supports Hyundai’s claim that 311km is in fact possible in real-world driving.


The 2020 Hyundai Ioniq range brings genuinely worthwhile improvements, but the price rises of up to $3500 demonstrate that electric-car technology is still a long way from being affordable to the motoring masses.

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