Setting the bar in the new production-based hybrid category approved by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), Hyundai took a 2017 Ioniq hybrid prototype to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, injected some nitrous oxide, and let 'er rip. The result is an FIA-approved production-based hybrid land speed record of 157.825 mph (253.995 km/h) and a peak exit speed of 160.7 mph (258.6 km/h).

The new FIA record category allowed Hyundai Motor America's Engineering and Quality team to make a number of special modifications to Hyundai's latest hybrid model. Most of these were straight out of the toolbox of Formula and GT racing, including low-restriction air intake and exhaust systems (exhaust treatment catalyst is required to remain per FIA rules).

The electronic engine governors were also removed and the car's engine computers (ECU) were recalibrated, while accessories such as air conditioning and other non-critical items were removed from the car and a cockpit-controlled Nitrous Express single-stage, direct-port nitrous injection system with stand-alone fuel system was installed.

Lightweighting and aerodynamics improvements included a new front grille integrated with the valance, modifications to the air dam and underbody aerodynamics, and the removal or lightening of interior parts. Suspension modifications saw the addition of a Progress Competition coil-over suspension, while optimized spring weights and dampers were tuned. Ride height was lowered 100 mm (3.9 in) and aero wheels with wheel covers shrouded in Goodyear Eagle tires were added.

To meet FIA competition requirements, a safety cage was installed in the Ioniq (Bisimoto design) and a Sparco 6-point safety harness was added, along with a matching racing seat and driver gear. Finally, an on-board fire-suppression system was added and battery disconnects and a parachute were installed.

A stock Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid (left) sits next to the modified Bonneville record-holding Ioniq Hybrid

Hyundai says the record attempt started as standard testing of the new Ioniq, but grew from there.

"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," says 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."

As per FIA rules, the speed record of 157.825 mph achieved this week was the average of the Ioniq hybrid's three best runs.

The 2017 Ioniq, entering the US market in the fourth quarter of 2016, will come in gasoline-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric models, which were unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in February, while the Ioniq Hybrid model debuted as a sneak peak at the Detroit show the month before.

The video below shows the Ioniq powering across the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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