Hyundai has opted to launch three different green driving solutions in one with the new Ioniq. The idea is simple: Hyundai offers one platform and you choose whether you want Hybrid, Electric or Plug-in Hybrid.
Options are few, making this a relatively straight-forward decision-making process. The idea is to create a car that’s accessible to as wide a range of people as possible.
Where the Hybrid squares up to a number of models – namely the Prius, but also Toyota’s wider selection of hybrids – the Ioniq Electric faces less competition. There are e-versions of established models across some car manufacturers – like the Volkswagen e-Golf – but cars designed to be electric from the get-go are rarer. Nissan dominates the UK’s roads with the Leaf, there’s the odd Renault Zoe sighting, while BMW has a healthy following with its i3 and Tesla is creeping in at the top-end.
So can Hyundai muscle in on the fledgling electric car segment with the Ioniq Electric, an electric car for the mainstream?
Hyundai Ioniq Electric review: Design
The Ioniq comes from the same school of thought as the Toyota Prius and that explains some of the similarity in design. The aim is to make this car as efficient as possible. That doesn’t immediately mean giving it a sports car profile, rather considering how the air passes over and under to keep drag to a minimum.
As we mentioned in the prologue, thie electric Ioniq is the same design as thehybrid version that we’ve already reviewed, so we won’t dwell too long on repeating the same information – that the doors are a little thin in feel and don’t make that reassuring crunch when you close them.
However, we do think that the Ioniq Electric looks slightly better than the Hybrid, because there’s that futuristic silver panel stuffed in the front, rather than the grille of the Hybrid.
As there’s no air needed for an engine, there’s no need to be sucking in air through the front. Sure, Hyundai could have had an entirely different bumper assembly for a seamless look, but manufacturing more parts would push the price up. To highlight this as the electric version, there are highlights to the cabin and exterior in a copper colour.
Having spent some time with the Ioniq (in two of its three forms) we have grown to like the design. It succeeds in offering conventionality, whereas the Prius is getting a little odd; it offers practicality over the Nissan Leaf and range-limited Renault Zoe, with better looks and more space; we’d perhaps say that theBMW i3 is a better looking car with plenty of appeal, but it’s more expensive (although its lease options make it potentially affordable for business owners).
That sees the Ioniq Electric slotting into a space where you get quite a lot of electric car for your money.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric review: On the road
But once you slip into the driving seat, the Ioniq Electric feels a little more like the car you want it to be. The Hybrid is a good car – it’s attractively priced, well loaded with tech and perfectly comfortable – but as soon as you pull away in the Ioniq Electric, the benefits of that instant delivery of electric power becomes apparent.
There’s a lithium-ion polymer battery sitting under the backseat and boot floor, with a 28kWh capacity, connected to a front electric motor delivering the equivalent of 120bhp, or 295Nm torque. That’s all delivered instantly, meaning you can pull away with pace. This isn’t Tesla’s Insane or Ludicrous speed, but a comfortable and sensible delivery of the power to take you to 62mph in 10.2-seconds.
That’s not exactly fast, but it can be boosted in Sport mode, which claims a 9.9-second time to 62mph. Again, the Ioniq isn’t a dragster, but it is pacey enough to keep up with average driving.
But all this is delivered in relative silence, the cabin cosseted from the outside and one reduction gear taking the motor’s power and transmitting it to the front wheels smoothly. Like many modern cars, there’s regenerative braking to recoup energy back into the battery.
One of the fun things the Ioniq Electric offers is different levels of regenerative braking controlled via paddles on the steering column, in the same sort of location you’ll find manual gear shift levers on high-end automatics. In thiscase, however, you can turn the regeneration up or down, basically by increasing the friction applied when you lift off the power.
Set to the highest level and this noticeably slows the car; it can make braking fairly jerky, but we can see that with time you’ll learn what level you can use smoothly. Coasting down a hill and we’re sure that you’ll be able to use it to best effect. Other EVs and hybrids offer similar systems, but not always as directly controlled.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric review: Range and charging
The Ioniq claims a 174 mile range, when using 11.5kWh per 100km. Those are the on-paper figures: we can’t report on the longer-term real-world figures without more time living with the Ioniq, but our model reported 13.4kWh per 100km from its on-board computer. That compares favourably with the Nissan Leaf’s 30kW, which offers a 15kWh per 100km consumption; and the BMW i3, which cites a 12.6kWh per 100km (again, both on paper, not real-world figures).
When it comes to charging, there are three options, as is usually the case. You can charge from a domestic wall socket, although that’s slow and will take 10-12 hours, but with fast-charging from a wall box coming in at 4-6 hours, and the ability to rapid charge to 80 per cent of the battery in 33-minutes from a 50kW CCS tethered public charging point, you should be able to handle decent length journeys without too much worry about range.
To help you manage your power consumption, there’s a breakdown on what is using power, as accessed via the central display. Here you’ll see what the car’s electric systems are pulling, as well as what the aircon might be using. There are also other clever features, like being able to set the charging times – to take advantage of off-peak tariffs – as well as cabin pre-conditioning, so your car can be cooled (or heated) while it’s still connected to the power supply, rather than only when you’re on the road.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric review: All the tech you could want
One of the important elements in electric driving is satnav. The idea is that satnav will help you navigate and find those electric charging points so you’re never going to get stuck and this is one of the reasons that the Ioniq Electric only comes at the Premium and Premium SE trim levels.
Hyundai doesn’t really do options. You buy the car, pick the trim level and that delivers with a huge range of mod cons. And this list is almost silly.
Pick the Ioniq Electric Premium and all this comes as standard: dual-zone aircon, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assistance, rear parking sensorsand rear camera, auto headlights and wipers, Bluetooth, 8-inch central touch display with satnav and TomTom Live services, Android Auto nad Apple CarPlay, heated front seats, Infinity sound system with subwoofer, auto dimming rear mirror, wireless phone charging, and keyless entry. Now breathe.
Stepping up to Premium SE gets you leather seats which offer cooling, blind spot detection and more.
In short, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric offers so much technology that you can’t help but see it as good value for money. There’s little that we can think of that’s missing and all of this comes in at a reasonable price point too.
On the road this all comes together nicely. The driver’s display is mostly digital, switching to a more aggressive red coloured rev counter when you’re in sports mode. We’ve seen similar on the BMW i8 and this is the same idea, even if it’s not quite the same result. The inclusion of range info and satnav details on the driver’s display makes for plenty of info and all easily controlled.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a great addition to the electric options on the UK’s roads. It slices into the middle of the existing pack, offering good value for money, plenty of range and all the technology you could want.
For us, this is perhaps an easy alternative to cars like the Renault Zoe or NissanLeaf, although both of those are available for less – but in cheaper forms offer a little less for the money too (and the Zoe has potential issues with battery “loan” terms). The Ioniq Electric looks to present a mid-range electric option and does so well.
The Ioniq Electric also comes with a 5-year warranty for the car (as is standard for Hyundai) but will offer an additional 8-year 125,000-mile warranty on the battery. This should off-set any doubts, but ultimately, we’re yet to discover exactly what the long-term performance of the Ioniq Electric will be like.
The Hyundai Ioniq is safe and sensible. It’s well positioned, competitively priced and well specced. If you’re looking to go electric without breaking the bank, it’s certainly a car to be considered.