10.4.2018Hyundai Ioniq Electric review
Having been impressed with the Hyundai Ioniq Electric at its UK launch, Next Green Car has had the chance to spend more time with the electric family hatch, to really see what it's like to live with. Since a number of its rivals have upped their game since launch, does the Ioniq Electric remain one of the best EVs on the market?
Review by Chris Lilly
Using an 88 kW electric motor, the Ioniq Electric will complete the 0-62mph dash in 9.9 seconds when in Sport mode. Like many EVs, it's nippy off the line, so the acceleration on offer feels faster than a ten-second sprint time would suggest. Looking back on my notes from the launch, I remember that the Ioniq Electric doesn't feel as quick as many electric models when in normal. However, the inclusion of a Sport button - a rare sight on an EV - means that performance is boosted. Only a little mind, but the Ioniq Electric feels as responsive as an EV 'should' again. If range isn't an issue (and it often isn't) leaving it in Sport mode encourages the driver to make the most out of the fun aspects of EV ownership. A quick turn of pace isn't going to make for a hot-hatch bothering Hyundai, but the Ioniq is a sensible, practical model, so you should be expecting that. There is some fun to be had though, and the Hyundai will more than hold its own at motorway speeds, deal well with sharp climbs, nip around tight junctions in town, or roll along an undulating country road easily. There is an Eco mode to complement the Normal and Sport settings, but this will trim throttle response tight off, and is best used when range is tight. During my time with it, I used Sport mode a fair amount of the time, sticking it into Normal or Eco when cruising at motorway speeds.
Tastes vary, but I reckon the Ioniq Electric is nicely set-up from a handling point of view. As above, the Hyundai isn't going to provide a highly engaging drive, but it's no wallowy-old Hector either. There is plenty of control from the springs, so that even when cornering enthusiastically, there's not much body roll - aided no doubt by the low centre of gravity thanks to the batteries placed in the floor. Push too hard though and the limits of grip are quickly reached, I expect because of low-rolling resistance tyres. This helps with agility around town too, and means the car isn't unsettled by motorway driving when hitting undulations in the tarmac. Equally, it's not too stiff to make things uncomfortable over rough surfaces, with only the worst pot holes likely to send any vibrations crashing through the cabin. The steering follows a similar path, with enough weight to the steering wheel and precision to confidently drive the Ioniq Electric around even tight spots. However, the feedback is kept to a minimum, which makes things more comfortable - especially during long stints at the wheel. It's not as refined to drive as a premium model, but the Ioniq Electric is a good family hatch, with a well balanced driving set-up.
There's nothing particularly sensational about the Hyundai's styling, though it's not a bad car to look at either. There is quite a theme running through this review so far - a balanced view to everything - which includes the design. More striking than a VW e-Golf, the Ioniq Electric is certainly not as in-your-face aesthetically as a BMW i3 for example. It's a system that seems to have worked if Nissan's latest Leaf is anything to go by. The Ioniq's main rival went from EV odd-ball in terms of looks, to a more refined and 'normal' look; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery etc. There are tell-tale signs of electrification though, with the sleek, fastback shape clearly focused on aerodynamics, and the closed-off grille the biggest hint as to how the Hyundai is powered. It's a useful differentiator within the Ioniq range, with the PHEV and Hybrid looking more closely related to each other than the pure-electric model. The slippery shape does translate to a slightly compromised interior, with occupant - and particularly load space - not as good as conventionally powered rivals. Those up front will have no issues at all, with plenty of space available, and the ability to get into a good driving position. However, tall adults will fit in the back but will also be conscious of that sloping roofline. There isn't a great feeling of head space in the rear for adults, though children will have no such issues obviously. That sloping roof can inhibit rear visibility too, but there is a rear-parking camera and sensors to off-set what is far from a major problem. Boot space is pretty good on paper, but it's quite shallow and doesn't have the most practical access around. Reasonable scores for practicality throughout then, rather than top marks.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Hyundai's aforementioned balanced approach continues here to the the cabin's controls. The design is good if not exactly pulse-quickening. It's very well laid out though, with an excellent lay-out and some serious consideration to usability. The central touchscreen is easy to use, with clear graphics, and logical interface. There are a number of shortcut buttons on the rest of the centre console, but not too many to create a cluttered look. The driving controls are well placed too, without too many buttons on the steering wheel, while the gear selector is unusual in the sense it's a quartet of buttons, rather than a lever of some sort. Rarely used controls are tucked away behind the steering wheel. Overall build quality feels very good too, as you would expect from a Hyundai. It's arguably a nicer cabin than the Leaf's though not as nice overall as the e-Golf's - which benefits from the standard Golf's excellent interior.
RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
If everything beforehand in this review has been a case of 'nice, but not outstanding', Hyundai has shaken up the review in this section. The Ioniq Electric is one of the most efficient cars on the market - of any powertrain - and there are few complaints from this quarter for Hyundai concentrating on this element of the company's first EV. I covered 1,100 miles over the course of 12 full days with the Ioniq Electric and was thoroughly impressed with the driving range. My average energy consumption during that time ended on 4.1 miles per kWh, with a best of 4.7 m/kWh over a distance of about 50 miles. The rest of the time, those efficiency scores typically fell between 3.7 and 4.4 m/kWh. This average gives a realistic real-world range of about 115 miles on a single charge from the 28 kWh battery, which corresponds with my confidence of a 100 mile drive with no worries at all. It must be said that there were no serious attempts at hyper-miling, and that there was a long motorway trip from south east Wales to London and back - at normal speeds - making up those miles. My driving style was varied from efficient to aggressive, and it likely evens itself out to an average driving style for many. A little over 100 miles is an easily achievable target on a single charge then, and more than 120 miles would be possible without much effort. In terms of running cost, the Ioniq Electric will cost nothing to tax, wither in the first year or ongoing, and the electric costs will be typically low. For example, the Ioniq Electric will travel a similar distance on a charge to the Leaf 30 kWh, but with a slightly smaller battery.
With an excellent NGC Rating, the Ioniq Electric is one of the greenest cars on the road. There are a number of attributes in its favour, including the excellent aerodynamics. Pod Point chargers offered to new Ioniq Electric buyers off-set carbon emissions from the first 5.000 miles of charging too. In terms of vehicle attributes, Hyundai's superb brake energy recuperation system captures otherwise wasted energy under deceleration. The Ioniq Electric's is one of the best systems too, with paddles behind the wheel letting the driver shuffle between four different levels of brake recuperation. Zero allows the Hyundai to coast, which is something a number of EVs don't allow but is very handy when driving to extend the car's range. Levels one, two, and three increase strength in stages, up to the same extent as a forceful press of the brake pedal. As such, once used to the system and with sensible anticipation while driving, the Ioniq Electric can effectively be driven on one pedal. There's an Eco mode to help drivers out with their economical driving too, and plenty of information available to coach the driver as to how they are doing via scores and statistics. Charging makes use of a 6.6 kW on-board charger using a Type 2 connector, while the Ioniq Electric is rapid charge capable on CCS. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 20.
As is often the case with electric vehicles, levels of standard equipment are very good on both trims. Entry level Premium trim includes 16-inch wheels, rear parking camera and sensors, air conditioning, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system with DAB, Bluetooth, USB, and Apply CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity, automatic headlights lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, wireless phone charging, keyless entry and start, and heated front seats amongst many other features. Moving up to Premium SE, the seats get upgraded to leather and are heated, while the driver gets an electric pew. The front seats can be cooled too, and front parking sensors, automatic wipers, and alloy trim is added. There is a comprehensive suite of safety systems too, and it's all backed up by Hyundai's excellent warranty.
There are a number of excellent family focused EVs, with the Ioniq Electric up against the likes of the Leaf 40 kWh, i3 94Ah, e-Golf, and Renault Zoe. All have had battery upgrades within (or close to) the Ioniq Electric's time on the UK market, yet still the Hyundai competes - and competes well. The model's efficiency off-sets what is now by far and away the smallest battery pack of the five key mass-market EVs, and Hyundai has done a very good job of making a refined car with a highly usable range. It's a bit more expensive than its main rival - the Leaf - which now has a better driving range, but the Ioniq Electric is a nicer model to drive, is better equipped, and the range is more than useful enough for the majority of drivers. The regen paddles mean the Ioniq Electric instantly warrants consideration for anyone in the market for an EV, and - as you may have gathered by now - the Hyundai is a well balanced product, covering a lot of bases, and excelling in terms of efficiency.
Model tested: Hyundai Ioniq Electric Premium SE
Body-style: Five-door family hatchback
Engine / CO2: 88kW electric motor / 0 g/km
Trim grades: Premium, Premium SE
On-road price: From £25,345. Price as tested £26,295
Warranty: Five year / unlimited mileage - Battery: Eight year / 125,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4.5 Stars