It’s funny how far laughing gas can take ‘ya…

Hybrid power is in a weird in-between state at the moment. On one side of the equation, you have insane spaceship-esque performance cars like the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari, and Porsche 918 Spyder. On the other side, you have calm, cool, collected commuter-mobiles like the Hyundai Ioniq. The question is how do you bridge these two philosophies? Both pair electrification with internal combustion, but the gulf between them seems impassable. Luckily, Hyundai is on the case, having set a new land speed record by going 157.825 mph in a specially modified Ioniq four-door.

“Our engineering team really pushed the limits to set this new segment benchmark while demonstrating the impressive durability of the entire Ioniq vehicle platform,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of Corporate and Product Planning at Hyundai Motor America. “We expect this will be the first of many accolades for Ioniq.”

The effort was spearheaded by Hyundai Motor America’s Engineering and Quality Team (U.S.A.! U.S.A.!), which was so impressed with the car’s overall quality when it was first received, it decided to go for a land speed record.

The official record set was for production-based hybrid vehicles, as approved by the FIA. And although the official record is just under 158 mph, the race car actually peaked out at 160.7 mph.

So what’s it take to get an Ioniq going that fast? Read on for the details.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

In case you were unaware, the Bonneville Salt Flats is best characterized as a nexus of speed and power, recognized by gear heads the world over as the battleground for the ultimate in top end bragging rights. Last year, heavy summer rains washed out several of the big events, but this year, the salt is looking prime for v-max runs.

Enter the speed record Ioniq. Based on the production Prius-fighter first introduced in the U.S. earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show, the Ioniq gets a 1.6-liter dino-juice burning four-cylinder engine, which mates to a 32-kW electric motor juiced by a lithium-ion polymer battery. From the factory, total output of the set-up comes in at 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, all of which is sent to the front axle by way of a six-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Hyundai declined to mention how big the shot is, but my guess is it came from one of the big bottles.

It’s enough hit the 60 mph benchmark in about 10 seconds, with top speed rated at a rather lackluster 115 mph. Definitely nothing record-worthy, if you ask us.

To catapult the modified racer into the record books, the Hyundai team dived headfirst into the powertrain, first replacing the intake and exhaust with high-flow pipes at both ends. Next, the engine, transmission, and hybrid ECU were retuned to deliver maximum thrust, as opposed to maximum mileage. The speed governor was removed (obviously), as was the climate control equipment and all unnecessary ancillary components.

All sensible stuff when building a racer. But the biggest upgrade was the single-stage direct-port nitrous injection system from Nitrous Express, paired with a stand-alone fuel system.

Hyundai declined to mention how big the shot is, but my guess is it came from one of the big bottles.

To complement the newfound power, Hyundai modified the exterior styling for max aero efficiency, with a new grille and rear valence from the Ioniq Electric model, plus mods to the underbody and air dam. But considering how slippery the package is from the factory, my guess is this top speed racer didn’t need too much massaging to get into shape.

The interior was gutted, and a roll cage from Bisimoto was added, along with a six-point racing harness, racing seat, and additional safety gear.

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Sets Speed Record At Bonneville Salt Flats High Resolution Exterior
- image 693976

Coilover suspension was added in the corners, courtesy of Progress Competition, while the sway bars were optimized to help the car run straight and true. The ride height was also lowered by 100 mm (3.9 inches). Lightweight wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle rubber were added, and a deployable parachute was mounted on the tail.

It’s a brilliant little package, and the Hyundai team has every right to be proud of the new record. But you know what this means, right?

Hey Toyota, you gonna take this lying down?

Press Release

A race-prepared Hyundai Ioniq hybrid prototype, developed by Hyundai Motor America’s Engineering and Quality team, set an FIA-approved production-based hybrid vehicle land speed record of 157.825 mph, with a peak exit speed of 160.7 mph at Utah’s renowned Bonneville Salt Flats. The eco-focused Ioniq is Hyundai’s newest hybrid model, with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains to be available. Ioniq hybrid and electric models go on sale in the U.S. in late 2016.

“We couldn’t be more proud in setting the FIA hybrid-category record with our new Ioniq hybrid,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president, Corporate and Product Planning, Hyundai Motor America. “Our engineering team really pushed the limits to set this new segment benchmark while demonstrating the impressive durability of the entire Ioniq vehicle platform. We expect this will be the first of many accolades for Ioniq.”

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Sets Speed Record At Bonneville Salt Flats High Resolution Exterior
- image 693970

Hyundai Motor America’s engineering and quality group led the concept development for this grassroots motorsports effort. “A key role of Hyundai’s engineering team in the U.S. is to thoroughly test all future vehicle prototypes to ensure they exceed the demanding expectations of our customers,” said Mircea Gradu, director, Engineering and Quality, Hyundai Motor America. “As we performed these tests on Ioniq, the engineering and quality staff became so impressed with the results that we began to wonder if we should raise our sights even higher, and the Ioniq land speed record effort was born.”

The development team made a number of special modifications to the Ioniq hybrid prototype to break the hybrid record, including:

Powertrain

Low-restriction intake and exhaust systems with retained catalyst
Engine, transmission, and hybrid ECU recalibrated and governors removed
Air conditioning and ancillary accessories removed
Nitrous Express single-stage direct-port nitrous injection with stand-alone fuel system, cockpit-controlled

Aerodynamics/Lightweighting

Ioniq Electric model front grille and valance integration
Underbody and air dam aerodynamic modifications
Interior components removed or lightened

Suspension

Progress Competition coil-over suspension with optimized spring, damping and sway bar rates and ride height lowered 100mm
Lightweight aero wheels and wheel covers with Goodyear® Eagle tires

Safety

Fully-integrated high-strength safety cage structure (Bisimoto-designed)
Sparco® 6-point safety harness system, racing seat, and driver safety gear
On-board fire-suppression system, battery disconnects and parachute

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