The Best Hybrid Car of the Year

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Hybrid Cars

Hybrid Technology

A vehicle is a hybrid if it utilizes more than one form of on-board energy to achieve propulsion. In practice, that means a hybrid will have a traditional internal-combustion engine and a fuel tank, as well as one or more electric motors and a battery pack. The chief advantages of a hybrid are that it uses less fuel and emits less CO2 than most conventional non-hybrid vehicles. Because of this, owners also get extra benefits in the shape of lower rates of road and company car tax, as well as possibly avoiding congestion charges.

Hybrid cars are sometimes mistakenly confused with electric vehicles. Hybrids are most often gasoline-burning machines that utilize their electric bits to collect and reuse energy that normally goes to waste in standard cars. Theoretically, diesel-electric hybrids would be even more fuel-efficient, but hybrid systems and diesel engines both represent an extra cost. So far, installing both in the same vehicle has proven to be prohibitively expensive.

How Does It Work?

Hybrid cars are powered by either a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor. However, different manufacturers have come up with different ways of merging the two powertrains into one.

Although all hybrid cars drive much like a conventional automatic car, they can be broadly divided into two main types:

  1. Conventional Hybrids

In the Toyota Prius, arguably the best-known hybrid, each of the power sources can drive the car separately or they can work together. At low speeds, the engine is turned off and the car is driven only by the electric motor. Then, when maximum acceleration is needed, both work together. At stages between, any excess power generated by the engine is used to recharge the batteries that power the electric motor.

The battery is big enough that the electric motor can power the car for up to 1.25 miles. Toyota also uses this system in the Yaris and Auris hatchbacks and Prius+ MPV hybrids, while cars from Audi, BMW, Citroen, Land Rover, Lexus, Mercedes, Peugeot, Porsche and Volkswagen work on the same basis.

The Honda Insight and the Honda Jazz are slightly different. Here, a relatively small conventional engine uses an electric motor to give it extra help when required. The big difference is that the electric motor is not capable of powering the car on its own.

  1. Plug-in Hybrids

Plug-in hybrids, as the name implies, can be plugged into an electric outlet to recharge the batteries along with being charged on the move. Effectively, they are a halfway house between conventional hybrids and fully electric vehicles. Although they have a conventional engine, they also have larger batteries than regular hybrids and can drive longer distances on electric power alone – up to 30 miles in some cases.

Toyota produces a plug-in version of the Prius, while Volvo has a diesel-hybrid V60 and Mitsubishi’s petrol-powered Outlander PHEV is the only plug-in SUV. The Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt work slightly differently. In these two cars drive always comes from the electric motor; the petrol engine is just there to act as a generator to charge the battery pack when it starts running out.

Coming to the best hybrid car in 2017, nothing beats the Hyundai Ioniq. Let us go into some more detail about the car:

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
The Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

It is the most fuel efficient car in America. Its design and engineering boosts the appeal of hybrids beyond fuel efficiency and sets this innovative hatchback apart from the others. Exceptional MPG is enhanced by a rewarding driving experience. The battery inside this car is so advanced it comes with a lifetime warranty!

While driving the Ioniq Hybrid, there is an air of safety and comfort that surrounds you. The design of the car is very appealing and it is loaded with features. With this car, you do not have to compromise on any aspect of a great driving experience.

The Hyundai Ioniq is the first car to be offered in three different power configurations. There is the basic Ioniq Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid version and there is also an Ioniq Electric, which is purely electrically powered. The Ioniq is a high-on-style, five-seat hatchback very similar to the Toyota Prius. The Ioniq features Hyundai’s large grille and a swooping, almost coupe-like roofline that improves aerodynamics and therefore fuel economy.

The Engine and Equipment

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid's Engine
A View of the Engine Powering the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid

The Ioniq Hybrid is powered by a 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine, making 104 bhp and paired with a 43 bhp electric motor. The electric motor is only there to assist the petrol engine, unlike the plug-in version. The basic Ioniq Hybrid will not be capable of traveling on pure electric power for any great distance. It will do 0-62 mph in 10.8 seconds and can reach a top speed of 115 mph; fuel economy is a claimed 83.1 mpg, while CO2 emissions of 79 g/km ensure exemption from road tax but not the London Congestion Charge.

Standard equipment is also pretty good on all models: alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel, air-conditioning and DAB radio are standard from the entry-level model up, with Premium models benefiting from sat nav and the latest Bluetooth compatibility technology, while the Premium SE has a leather-clad interior.

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid's Interior
Ioniq Hybrid’s Interior is Spacious and Comfortable – Source Hyundai

It can comfortably accommodate a small family. The Ioniq provides space to spare for front and rear-seat occupants alike, as well as an impressive boot with more capacity than that of the Toyota Hybrid. It can extend further by folding the rear seats down, too.

All the positive attributes of good fuel efficiency and low emissions that made the Toyota Prius such a success apply equally to the Hyundai Ioniq, which has the further advantage of comfortably undercutting the price. It’s covered by the same five-year/unlimited mileage warranty as other Hyundai models, which have acquired a very positive reputation for reliability. The Ioniq is a sound investment and also an easy car to live with.

Safety has been taken very seriously when making this car. Every model is loaded with up-to-date technology including automatic emergency braking (which can slow the car to a halt if it detects an obstacle in its path), as well as lane-keeping assistance. Higher-spec models also have adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic detection to help with reversing out of parking spaces or driveways onto busy roads. These systems helped the Ioniq score the full five stars in its Euro NCAP safety tests.

Pros

  • Decent practicality
  • High design appeal
  • Low running costs
  • Lifetime warranty for battery
  • High on safety

Cons

  • Some cheap plastics inside
  • Engine sounds strained at high revs
  • Stylish design but not high on innovation

The Ioniq Hybrid is Hyundai’s first such car and is generally quite impressive. It may not be the most imaginatively designed car, but it forms a very well rounded package. It is giving Toyota Prius a run for its money. Hyundai Ioniq is good enough to challenge the market dominance of some very big names in the automobile industry when it comes to hybrid technology. This is definitely a great package with least compromises and most value for your money.

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