With its petrol engine and electric motor working together in the Ioniq Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid, the performance of the new Hyundai Ioniq is pretty good – both are quicker than a Toyota Prius and similar to many regular diesel hatchbacks, but slower than, say, a Volkswagen Golf GTE.

In town, the Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid will start off on electric power alone, making it whisper-quiet. You need to tread gingerly on the accelerator to avoid the petrol engine cutting in, but when it does the transition is smooth – the only tell-tale sign being some background engine thrum. It’s disappointing, though, that even after selecting pure-EV mode on the plug-in model its engine cuts in on anything more than a slight incline.

Not surprisingly, the Ioniq has been set up to handle well in urban areas, where its steering is light and easy to manage. Get the Hybrid out on faster B-roads and it’s good there as well. The steering stays on the light side – there is a Sport mode but this adds too much weight – but it’s accurate and throws in enough resistance as you apply lock to help you place the car easily. Lots of grip and good body control add to the Ioniq’s talents, as do the smooth brakes. They’re not as grabby as the brakes on some other hybrids, making driving smoothly in stop-start traffic no effort at all.

As the driver, you get plenty of seat and wheel adjustment, and pedals are set nicely in line with the seat for a natural stance. Front visibility is good, although the view over your shoulder is obscured by the sweeping roofline. Fear not, though, because you get standard rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera across the range.

The interior is quite conservative-looking, but Hyundai has done a good job with quality and ergonomics. The upper surfaces use plenty of soft-touch plastics and all the switches feel robust. Everything is well laid out, so compared with a Toyota Prius it feels both smarter and easier to use. That said, a Volkswagen Golf GTE’s interior feels plusher still.

There’s plenty of room in the front seats – as much as you’d find in any traditional family hatchback, or a Toyota Prius, for that matter – so two tall adults will have no complaints about head and leg room. The rear seats also have enough leg room for someone tall, but anyone much over average height might find their head brushing the sloped-back rooflining. This is one area where the Ioniq loses out to regular hatchbacks, such as a Volkswagen Golf or Skoda Octavia.

Overall,the hybrid version of the Hyundai Ioniq is a credible alternative to its rivals, even if the electric-only version isn’t quite so convincing.

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