11 January 2017
Review: Hyundai Ioniq
It’s the same length, for instance, as the stablemate Tucson SUV. It’s wider than the i40. And overall, being in the Ioniq feels like being in a bigger car than it is. So for those whom an electric car’s characteristics will suit, there’s now something close to a medium family car available.
This is going to be three cars in one model when a plug-in hybrid arrives later in the year. A standard petrol hybrid is already available, and will certainly be the biggest seller of the model. Thanks to the efforts of Toyota, hybrid powertrains are now looked on as normal, and offer an economy closer to that of diesel in the correct driving conditions. The Ioniq hybrid will attract those coming down from oil-burning.
But for today, I'm just concerned with the review Ioniq, which is the pure electric version. And my time with it was interesting and instructive.
It’s a good looking car, a full 5-seater with a hint of elegant coupe-like styling at the back, and overall smooth lines which are no doubt influenced by a need to be as aerodynamically efficient as possible. You’ll know from the front that this is the EV version because there’s no radiator grille.
The instrumentation is a single central speedometer, remaining power gauge in place of a fuel level, and an indicator of power/charge instead of a rev-counter. The centre stack is like any other car, a good-sized touch-screen and sat-nav system, and easily used heating/ventilation.
Driving is just like using a car with a high-end automatic, except that there’s no gearbox at all, as electric drive is full pulling power from the first push on the accelerator. The only sound is a slight background hum as the motor winds up, and the heater fan is actually more loud. It’s all very smooth, and acceleration is more than good and can be close to exhilarating if you want. Out on the road, there’s no motor noise, with the tyres and wind being the only intrusion to the cabin. Usefully, the car comes with an adaptive cruise control as standard.
The Ioniq rides very comfortably and handles as well as you’d expect from a maker whose products have brought it to play in the top four spaces of the global marketplace. There’s a good boot space too, a little less than an i40 and more than an i30.
EVs work best in urban driving, where the stop-go conditions mean that the car gets lots of small ‘charge’ opportunities as it decelerates and when the driver brakes. In such conditions, you could travel, say, 20km and hardly see any change in the overall range.
On the other hand, from my base in County Kildare, I had occasion to drive my son to the airport in the early hours, which involved 120kms of travel at highway speeds, hardly any slowing down. That used up some 150kms of the range charge I started out with. It’s possible that if I’d taken the journey at peak commuter times, it would have taken considerably longer but I’d have used much less charge.
I don’t have an installed charger which a buyer would get, so my charging was done via an extension lead to my standard household plug. That takes up to ten hours to give a full charge. The charging unit which is supplied to buyers will do the job in around half that time. And the fast charging units in public places can soup up to 80 percent charge in around 20 minutes.
Buying an electric car is still very much a choice after careful consideration of one’s driving patterns and needs. Which is why, for Ireland anyhow, Hyundai is banking on the hybrid version to have Ioniqs in significant numbers on the road.