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Hyundai Avante Hybrid Review: It's All You Want In A Hybrid Sedan

The Avante is now only available in Singapore in hybrid guise, and it’s never been better.
James Wong
James Wong
15 May 2024
... the car is pleasingly efficient. Without even trying, we hit 19 km/l. Less waste, more happiness.
What we like:
pros
Excellent comfort and damping for a relaxed ride
pros
Efficient but not anodyne powertrain
pros
Interior space and design
What we dislike:
cons
DCT might be a costly item to repair in the future - but it's covered by a 10-year warranty, and so is the engine and battery.
cons
Sedan shape is falling out of favour
cons
Pricing is disproportionately affected by high COE

I kid you not when I say the Avante Hybrid made me happier than almost any car I have driven so far this year. Yes, there are incredible luxury and sports cars I have been in that are no doubt more advanced, or powerful, or sporty - but for Singapore roads the Avante Hybrid is as suitable as it gets. It’s not about the absolute performance that matters, but rather how relevant the car is for our road network.

What are you on about?

Let me explain. Maybe you have cars with more technology in them. But do those buttonless interiors with touch screens make your life easier? I don’t think so.

I really appreciate what Hyundai has done with the Avante’s interior and the application of technology within it - there are absolutely logical buttons for climate control as well as steering controls - while there is a high-resolution display for the instrument panel as well as the main touchscreen. And there are ventilated seats, oh so good for our humid, mucky weather. It’s all you need really, and anything more would just make things a whole lot more complicated. Better still, it’s all packaged in a wonderful wrap-around cockpit that’s cosy and stylish.

Is the Hyundai Avante Hybrid underpowered?

Surely more powerful cars would be better? Again, not quite. Yes, you need power to overtake as well as to cruise effortlessly on the expressway. The Avante Hybrid’s Cat A drivetrain does all of that easily with 129 hp and 265 Nm. It’s the latter figure that’s important - a Volkswagen MkV GTI makes do with 280 Nm (with 92 kg less), which isn’t far off at all. And till today, the VW is still considered a bona fide hot hatch. Like the GTI, it also employs a dual-clutch gearbox to make sure as much power as possible is transmitted to the road. Most hybrid solutions out there employ the CVT gearbox, which typically isn’t as responsive nor efficient in terms of drivetrain losses.

It shows in the way the Avante Hybrid confidently cruises about traffic - it isn’t hurried, but it feels just nice - enough power to make you feel the car is responsive, but not so much that it’ll frustrate you when you have to keep stopping for a series of traffic lights. Actually, in that particular situation the Avante Hybrid is especially pleasurable as each stop regenerates charge for the battery. And the car is pleasingly efficient. Without even trying, we hit 19 km/l. Less waste, more happiness.

Its engine is nigh on smooth starting up and switching off, and builds up revs nicely. Very rarely, the gearbox may hold onto a gear longer than expected, but it’s a fair trade-off for lightning quick, smooth shifts that makes full use of the power available.

Is the Hyundai Avante Hybrid sporty?

Look, do you need all that hard suspension that will keep your cornering stiff when attacking a corner? I’d rather trade that for pliant suspension that makes the many hours on the road as relaxing as possible. Of course, not soft to the point of losing body control or causing nausea.

Again this is where the Avante Hybrid excels. Its low-slung sedan body allows it to have a low centre of gravity. As such, there’s no need to make overly stiff suspension to compensate. It’s surprisingly agile on the road, yet compared to its SUV hybrid sibling, the Kona Hybrid, the Avante feels more comfortable and damped.

And with this Elite version, you also get multi-link rear suspension, which isn’t even provided as standard in some Continental cars. So it really is unfazed by whatever the road can throw at it. It’s even really quiet and insulated while going about its business - you only start to experience more road noise when you go above 80 km/h.

Is the Hyundai Avante Hybrid practical?

If you’re not yet convinced, you should check out the amount of rear legroom and boot space you get in the Avante Hybrid. It is virtually the same as in the non-hybrid Avante thanks to clever packaging, so it has the lovely laid-back rear seats as well as legroom that’s firmly knocking on the door of cars a class above (think Camry or Accord). There is also 474 litres of boot space which is above average, if not class-leading.

Is the Hyundai Avante Hybrid that good?

I only have two negatives to mention about the car. And it isn’t about its looks, as that’s subjective - although in my eyes, it looks rather good.

One is that it doesn’t have a powered boot, and it doesn’t swing up either when you open it, so it’s a bit of a fumble when you’ve got your hands full. The other is a bit of a selfish reason - I’d find the Avante Hybrid so irresistible if it was ever produced as a wagon, that I would be tempted to buy one myself. That would solve the narrow aperture of the boot in the sedan, and make the car even cooler. However, it’s only available as a sedan. But I suspect most Singaporean drivers would be perfectly happy with a sedan.

Is the Hyundai Avante Hybrid pricey?

Many have said the Avante Hybrid is expensive. It’s understandable given it was a sub-$100k car not too long ago, and Hyundai’s own electric IONIQ 5 is even priced within the ballpark of the Avante Hybrid. But to be fair, most of the increase is due to COE and through no fault of Hyundai. As a car to insulate one from the pains and perils of driving in Singapore, the Avante Hybrid is one of the very best.

Photos by James Wong

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