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It has been awhile since we last saw the launch of a regular hybrid car for the masses, not luxury plug-in hybrids costing more than apartments. Since the expiration of CBU hybrid incentives at the end of 2013, Toyota and Honda have largely stopped peddling hybrids, with the exception of the locally-assembled Toyota Camry Hybrid. Now, Hyundai has something up its sleeve.

It has been showcased and caught testing in Malaysia, and now the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid is ready to make its debut. Hyundai-Sime Darby Motors (HSDM) tells paultan.org that the Ioniq is set to be launched later this month. The (non-plug-in) hybrid version of the Ioniq – which was designed to also accommodate plug-in hybrid and EV systems – will be locally assembled in Kulim, Kedah, to take advantage of tax breaks.

The Hyundai Ioniq trio – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full EV – made its motor show debut at this year’s Geneva show. The Ioniq Hybrid went on sale in the UK last month, which means that we’re pretty quick off the mark here. Malaysia will also be the first location outside of Ulsan in Korea to assemble the Ioniq.

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Hyundai’s answer to the Toyota Prius is powered by a 1.6 litre Kappa GDI four-cylinder direct injection engine, producing 105 PS at 5,700 rpm and 147 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Hyundai claims that this internal combustion engine has the world’s highest thermal efficiency at 40%. Interestingly, that’s the same claim with the same 40% figure as Toyota’s current fourth-gen Prius.

The Kappa GDI is mated to a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor with 32 kW (44 PS) and 170 Nm, a lithium-ion polymer battery (lower memory sensitivity, better charge/discharge efficiency and better maximum output over Ni-MH nickel-metal-hydride batteries) and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT). The combined system output from the engine and electric motor is 141 PS and 265 Nm.

The electric motor was specifically designed for world-class efficiency, with optimisation measures including up to 10% thinner core components (electrical steel sheet) and rectangular-section copper wire for reduced core and copper loss. The motor enables the Ioniq to run in pure electric mode at speeds of up to 120 km/h.

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A unique point compared to Japanese hybrids is the use of a DCT over a CVT. Hyundai claims that its dual-clutch ‘box has best-in-class transfer efficiency through the use of low-friction bearings and low-viscosity transmission oil. It also features Sport and Eco modes – the former holds on to lower gears for longer, while the latter shifts up earlier to higher gears for maximum fuel efficiency.

The Ioniq is built on a new dedicated platform, and benefits from a number of weight-saving measures, including the use of an aluminium bonnet and tailgate that shaves 12.4 kg off steel versions. The material is also used on a large proportion of suspension parts to save around 10 kg, including 4.6 kg off the front lower arms and 7.14 kg off the rear lower arms. Even the cargo cover on the Ioniq is around 25% lighter than on other Hyundai models.

Under the skin, a multi-link rear suspension system with dual lower arms enhances ride comfort, Hyundai says, while the steering has been tuned for clear and precise response and feedback, with an increased ratio for a sportier character. The brakes have also been optimised to maximise regenerative braking performance.

Aerodynamics is important in in fuel-saving car, and the Ioniq’s Cd value is 0.24. Contributing factors are front wheel air curtains, active air flap in the front grille, rear spoiler and diffuser, side sill mouldings, floor undercover and a closed wheel design. Of course, there are low rolling resistance tyres as well.

Other highlights include batteries located under the rear seats to maximise cabin space; in-dash insulation to minimise engine noise; floor panel damping, enhanced A- and B-pillar fillings, thicker window glass and noise-cancelling windscreen film to further reducee NVH, and suspension tuned for ride comfort.

Recyclable materials find their way onto a Hyundai for the first time – the interior door covers are made from recycled plastic and powdered wood and volcanic stone, trimming 20% of mass compared to conventional materials. The headlining and carpet also feature raw materials extracted from sugar cane, while eco-friendly paint with soybean oil ingredients produce metallic finishes on some components.

The claimed fuel consumption is as low as 3.4 litres per 100 km (29.4 km/l) in the UK, which makes the Ioniq an interesting proposition, especially if HSDM manages to give it an attractive EEV price. The Hyundai’s styling is surely less polarising than that of the Prius, too, and there’s a hint of Honda CR-Z at the back. What do you think?

GALLERY: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid in Malaysia


GALLERY: Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, UK spec