Going Greta on a budget with the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid!
Want to be green without spending lots of erm... green? Step this way!
You may have read in the news this week that a 16-year-old Swedish girl called Greta Thunberg is currently sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on her way to take part in a United Nations summit on climate change. The idea behind the trip is to demonstrate that you can travel from Plymouth, to New York whilst generating a very small carbon footprint.
Now I’d like to say from the outset that I have nothing but admiration for Greta. She’s raising awareness of a big issue that she feels passionately about. Whereas the only things I feel passionate about are Bergerac red and Marlboro. And besides, whether you agree with what she says about climate change or not, sailing three thousand miles across the Atlantic is bloody hard work.
Unfortunately, if you are worried about the well-being of the world, but also need to attend a meeting in New York at some point in the near future, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to follow in Greta’s footsteps. Firstly, because the 60ft racing yacht in question requires a crew of several experienced sailors to operate it, but mostly because it will cost you somewhere in the region of £4million to buy in the first place.
This seems like poor value, especially when you consider that when you get to New York, you’ll be a week later than your colleagues who arrived courtesy of British Airways, had the meeting without you, and are already back at home
So, if you are concerned about climate change then you would be better off looking for other ways to reduce your impact on the environment. What can you do though? Well, you could grow a disgusting, unwashed beard and sit in the middle of a busy road with other beard people whilst chanting, waving placards and generally being an anti-social twat. Or, you could buy a more eco-friendly car
Which one though? Well, if you are very wealthy, you might think it a good idea to run out and spend seventy-thousand of your hard-earned pounds on a Tesla. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Oh, I know that the Model S is extremely accelerative, I know that you can play video games on its massive touchscreen, and turn your passenger seat into a whoopee cushion if you are so inclined. But I’m afraid that these things serve to distract from two rather big issues with the Tesla.
Firstly, whilst the Model S is undoubtedly fast, and looks very much like a sports saloon, it isn’t one. I drove one for the first time not long ago and on broken, bumpy roads, which are all we have in the UK these days, the damping appeared to have been set up by a schizophrenic. Any attempt to hustle the thing down the country lanes I was on resulted in the distinct impression that the front and rear ends of the car were connected by nothing stronger than a shoe-lace.
Secondly, and more importantly, if you do buy a Tesla don’t be surprised to find that your friends suddenly stop calling, that you are no longer be invited to parties, and that when you walk into your local pub, everyone will stop talking like in that scene from ‘Hot Fuzz’.
This is because Tesla people will talk of nothing else but their cars. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter of your conversation might be, a Tesla owner will be able to steer it back to their car. Usually by asking if they can plug it into the 16th century plug socket of your 16th century house, which will fuse all the lights. Honestly, outside of Islington, in the real world, buying one of Mr Musk’s creations is every bit as good a method of committing social suicide as turning up to Christmas dinner in a Jimmy Savile jumper.
So, if Tesla is out, what about the Jaguar I-Pace? Well, yes, it isn’t as virtue-signalling as a Tesla, but it is still a fully electric car, and unless you enjoy spending all day in service stations shouting “WHY IS IT DOING THIS?” at a constantly malfunctioning electric car charging point, full EV’s only work in theory.
Volkswagen seemed to be on the right track with their sporty Golf GTE hybrid, but then one day, for reasons known only to themselves they just stopped taking orders for them. The Renault Zoe? Hmm. I think not. The BMW i3 is a cool and funky thing with a nifty range extender engine, but because it has a Bimmer badge, they seem to think they can get away with charging £35,000 for what is essentially a battery powered Fiesta.
Basically, if you want to buy a more eco-friendly car, but are of modest means, then you currently have a choice of two. There’s the Toyota Prius, which is very popular with Uber drivers. This is presumably because Uber drivers often operate in the hours of darkness, and therefore cannot see that the latest Prius is more gruesome to behold than an online beheading.
Alternatively, there’s the car I’ve been driving this week, the Hyundai Ioniq. Cleverly, Hyundai have designed the Ioniq to look like a Prius from a few years ago, before Toyota hired a madman to pen their new models. Even more cleverly, the Ioniq can be bought as a traditional petrol-electric hybrid like a Prius, a plug-in hybrid like BMW’s 330e, or a mostly useless full EV.
It’s the standard hybrid model that’s the most popular though, and this is likely due to the fact that you can buy the basic model I’m testing here for just £22,000. Which to put it another way is almost £3000 less than the cheapest Prius, and a whopping thirteen grand less than the much smaller i3.
That’s cheap, especially when you remember that the Ioniq comes with a five year warranty for all those complex hybrid bits, and that you’ll always be able to sell it to an Uberist when the warranty runs out.
Fun to drive? Not really. The electric motor is allied to a 1.6 litre petrol engine to produce a not particularly inspiring 139bhp. That petrol engine isn’t exactly couth either. In fact when you clog it, it makes the kind of distressed animal noise that I thought had gone west with the old Ford CVH. So you tend to approach the throttle as though it were a land mine, trying to be as gentle as possible when pressing it so as to stay in electric mode and not set off the potential barnyard explosion under the bonnet. Plus, by driving around as though I was that bloke at the beginning of ‘The Hurt Locker’ I achieved a reported 64 miles per gallon.
But hey, if the Ioniq was meant to be sporting, they wouldn’t have fitted it with skinny tyres and 15-inch rims. Speaking of which, if they had fitted it with bigger wheels, the ride wouldn’t be as good as it is, which is rather good indeed.
It’s cool too, apparently. This morning, I took the Ioniq to a charity event where there were many skateboarders and general right-on hipster people. In the olden days the car park would’ve been full of ancient VW vans leaking oil and fizzing with rust, but these days, with its modern gunmetal grey paint and funky blue accents, the Ioniq seemed to fit in. The assorted moustache wearers liked the fact that it was a hybrid, and they also liked the fact that the boot was big enough for their BMX’s and even the largest and most freakish of organic vegetables.
Drawbacks? Well, like the body, the interior also appears to have been based on a Toyota from about ten years ago. The central display screen on this base model is so tiny that you’ll need the Hubble space telescope on hand in order to read it. There are some more basic omissions too. The wipers for instance, don’t park themselves when you switch the engine off. Even the Austin Maestro could do that.
I’ll be honest. A small part of me wanted this car to be total crap so I could savage it. But the Ioniq isn’t really designed for me, and on the basis that you’re reading this website it probably isn’t designed for you either.
However in the outside world, the limited slip diff isn’t worshipped as a deity, and turbo noises are regarded as childish. I often get asked by friends in the pub (because I don’t own a Tesla) what kind of car they should buy, and I always tell people to buy a Golf because it’s easy.
But if by chance I ever run into Greta Thunberg at the bar, and she asks me the same question, I would have no qualms about recommending she trades in the racing yacht for an Ioniq.