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- Normally, I try to photograph each of our test cars, but this time the car got stolen before I had a chance, so please enjoy these photos from Hyundai.
- The Ioniq got a midlife refresh for MY2020, both inside and out.
- The Ioniq comes in three distinct flavorsthe hybrid EV (seen here), a plug-in hybrid EV, or a battery EV.
- The Limited trim rides on these aerodynamic 17-inch alloy wheels.
- The interior is airy, and everything feels well put together.
- You also get a good complement of advanced driver assists and safety systems.
- Hyundai’s infotainment system is actually pretty pleasant to use.
- I didn’t get a chance to try out the back seat.
It was an email I hoped I’d never have to write. “Hi [Hyundai PR person], I hope you’ve had a pleasant July 4th. I hate to have to write this email but someone has just stolen the Ioniq that you’ve lent us.” Up until that point, my week with the little subcompact hybrid had been wonderfulafter all, what’s not to like about 55mpg (4.3L/100km)? But there turns out to be a surprising hero in this story, one reviled by much of the Ars Technica audience: a connected car service saved the day.
The Ioniq isn’t the newest electrified vehicle in Hyundai’s lineupin fact, it debuted in 2016 and, in the years since, has been joined by plug-in hybrid EV and battery EV versions. But for some reason or other, this model year 2020 Ioniq was the first time we’ve tested one. The range starts at $23,200 for the most efficient, if most spartanly equipped trim, the Ioniq Blue. But as is the way of the press fleet, ours was a $31,200 Ioniq Limited, loaded with features like adaptive cruise control, LED headlights, a 10.25-inch infotainment system with navigation (and CarPlay and Android Auto), to name but a few.
The biggest change for this model year was a midlife refresh, with new, more aerodynamic styling and a revised interior. The Ioniq is powered by a 1.6L direct-injection Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine that generates 104hp (76kW) and 109lb-ft (148Nm), which works in concert with 43hp (32kW), 125lb-ft (169Nm) permanent-magnet synchronous electric motor which together will send up to 139hp (104kW) to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The battery is a 1.56kWh lithium-ion pack, and that helps the Ioniq achieve that combined average of 55mpg, or 58mpg (4.1l/100km) if it’s the Blue trim, thanks to that car’s 15-inch wheels (as opposed to the 17-inch alloys of the Limited).
The car is well designed for life as a city runabout. It’s easy to get into and see out of, and the ride is good on the broken streets that seem to be an inescapable feature of 21st century life in an American city. The Ioniq is remarkably peppy, toochalk that up to the electric motor which is always ready to send its torque to the wheels.
The first hint of the drama to come was at lunchtime on July 5. The Ioniq had been parked for a couple days thanks to the long weekend and the pandemic, and I wanted to pop out and fetch lunch, but for the life of me I couldn’t find the car keys anywhere. An hour spent searching the house and our parking lot came up empty. Feeling a bit foolish, I emailed the company that looks after Hyundai’s press fleet, letting it know the driver should bring the spare key when they came to collect the car on Monday at the end of our week with it.
At 6pm, I got a concerning email from a neighbor, who alerted me to a young manprobably no more than 14whom he saw acting suspiciously by the car. I went to check outside, but there was no one to be seen. According to security camera footage, the kid returned 22 minutes later, armed with the keys I could not find. They must have fallen out of my pocket as I brought in some groceries a couple of days earlier, and rather than turning them in, he used them to unlock the car and drive away.
Let me tell you, having a loaned car stolen is not a great feeling. Mortified, I let the fleet company and Hyundai both know, and I called the police, who perhaps did not quite grasp that the crime had literally just occurred, because they didn’t send anyone over until the following morning. (Also, trying to explain that the car belonged to Hyundai and wore manufacturer plates which did not show up in their database was a fun challenge.)
Ioniqs have come with three years of Hyundai Blue Link service as standard since 2017.
Connected cars get a bad rap on this site. Citing privacy and cybersecurity concerns, most of our audience only want to read about them when the story concerns a security exploit or embarrassing hack. Since 2017, three years of free Hyundai’s Blue Link service has been a standard feature on Ioniqs. Some of the features are just there for convenience, like being able to remotely start the car via smartphone or smartwatch. But many of Blue Link’s features are safety- or security-focused, connecting you to an emergency response center in the event of an accident. And if your car gets stolen, Blue Link can locate and immobilize the car so the police can recover it. Which is what ended up happening in this caseit was even found undamaged, although I don’t have any more details on where it was recovered, unfortunately.
From this experience, I have learned a number of things. First, the Ioniq is a fine little hybrid, and 55mpg is nothing to sniff at. Secondly, I should make sure each press car’s key is attached to my keychain, which at least has a Tile locator beacon on it. Thirdly, I should be grateful this did not happen a week earlier, when the car was a $238,000 McLaren and not a $31,000 Hyundai. And finally, connected cars can have merit, and people should know that.
Listing image by Hyundai