Hyundai Ioniq

The Ioniq – its name a combination of ion and unique – is to come in three varieties: a plug-in hybrid, an all-electric version, and a hybrid-electric version.

Hyundai has announced that its Ioniq Hybrid Blue will come to market early next year with an EPA-estimated 57 miles per gallon city, 59 highway and a combined mileage rating of 58. Those figures best the Toyota Prius Eco’s 58 mpg city, 53 highway and 56 combined, and should be enough to make the Ioniq Hybrid the most fuel-efficient car sold in America without a plug.

The Ioniq is the Korean automaker’s first dedicated green car, intended to rival the Toyota Prius, as well as cars like the Ford C-Max, Chevrolet Volt, and other mass-market battery-electric models.

All three versions of the Ioniq will be sold in the U.S., though Hyundai expects the hybrid to be by far the most popular.

The Ioniq body structure is based on the Elantra compact sedan, but the hatchback gets its own styling, with some changes depending on which powertrain is installed.

Running down those powertrains, the five-door Ioniq Hybrid uses a 1.6-liter 4-cylinder engine, which produces 104 horsepower and drives the front wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

A 32-kilowatt (43-hp) electric motor is sandwiched between the engine and transmission, and powered by a 1.6-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.

The hybrid powertrain is similar to the one used in the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima mid-size sedans, and has a combined output of 139 hp in the Ioniq.

The Ioniq Plug-In uses a similar powertrain, but with a more powerful electric motor and a larger battery pack that can be plugged in to recharge. Also known as the PHEV model, it will line up against Toyota’s new Prius Prime when it arrives next summer, and relies on the same gas engine as the Hybrid, but includes a more powerful 60-hp electric motor backed by a much larger 8.9-kWh battery pack. Total system power has not yet been revealed, but Hyundai says the model will have an electric-only range in excess of 27 miles, edging the 2017 Prius Prime’s 25-mile figure. Officials also point to the Ioniq PHEV’s larger cargo capacity, quicker charge time, lifetime battery warranty and seating for five as trump cards over its four-seat Toyota rival.

The Ioniq Electric differs somewhat from the combustion models, with a different front fascia, pushbutton controls in place of the shift lever, and, of course, its all-electric powertrain. Hyundai also notes its Ioniq Electric will arrive by the end of this year with an 88-kW electric motor (120-hp equivalent) paired with a 28-kWh battery pack, enough for a total driving range in excess of 124 miles and an MPGe rating of 136. Those figures better the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen E-Golf, but are well shy of Chevrolet’s new Bolt, whose larger battery pack promises a range of 238 miles.

Unlike the other two models, which have battery packs located under the rear seats, the electric Ioniq’s pack also extends between the rear wheels and under the load bay.

This necessitated the fitting of a simple torsion-beam rear axle to make room, in place of the more complex trailing arms of the other two versions.

For now, the Ioniq is not as ambitious as the Bolt or Model 3, but if successful, it could change Hyundai’s demographics and remake its image in the United States.