Behind the wheel: Hyundai Ioniq Electric

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The Hyundai Ioniq is one of the first of a new breed of three-in-one green cars, allowing you to choose whether you want the hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric version.

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Hyundai has quickly built up a reputation for building comfortable, reliable cars, all blessed with a generous five-year warranty. The South Korean company's current line-up ranges from the i10 city car to the big Santa Fe SUV.

The Ioniq five-door family hatchback was launched in 2016 and it was designed from the outset to be available as a hybrid (small electric motor and battery assisting the petrol engine), plug-in hybrid (engine combined with a larger battery that can be charged up, giving an electric-only range of up to 39 miles) or 100% electric (bigger electric motor and battery).

The Hybrid costs £20,885, PHEV (plug-in electric vehicle) £24,995 and Electric £24,995.    The prices for the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and PHEV both take into account the Government grant off the purchase price (£4,500 for the electric and £2,500 for the PHEV).

Rivals include the Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf, Kia Niro and Renault Zoe.

As the Ioniq Electric emits no CO2, it's free to tax and exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

It's safe too, receiving a maximum five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. 

As well as the five-year unlimited mileage warranty, there's five years' roadside assistance and an eight-year (125,000) battery warranty for extra peace of mind.

First impressions

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The Hyundai Ioniq has more of a conventional hatchback look than some rivals, but it's aerodynamic too, sporting a drag coefficient of just 0.24.

The styling is more modern than futuristic, and the back is dominated by a spoiler built into the rear hatch, while the front grille in the hybrid features active air flaps, making it extra slippery. The electric version doesn’t have a grille at all (because there’s no need to cool the engine) - instead there’s just a smooth, body-coloured panel.

Inside there’s space for a family of five. Legroom at the back is average and taller adults might struggle for headroom due to the sloping roofline.
However, it's worth noting that the Ioniq Electric has less boot space thanks to a larger battery pack than the Hybrid so (the shallow) capacity is down from 550 to 455 litres.

That said, the seats are comfortable and the dashboard and centre console are well laid out, with a solid look and feel.
Hyundai claims the Ioniq features an “innovative use of recycled or ecologically-sensitive materials”.
For instance, the interior door covers are made of plastic combined with powdered wood and volcanic stone, the headliner and carpet include raw materials extracted from sugar cane, while the paint features renewable ingredients extracted from soy bean oil.

Engine choice

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All three versions use Hyundai’s six-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT), which works just like a conventional automatic gearbox.

Here we're concentrating on the Ioniq Electric which combines an 88kW electric motor and 28kWh battery (generating an equivalent of 119bhp), offering zero emissions motoring of up to 174 miles per full charge. In real-world driving expect closer to 130-150 miles, which is good, but not class leading.

There are three driving modes (Sport, Normal and Eco) and top speed is 103mph, while 0-62mph acceleration is 9.9 to 10.2 seconds (depending on drive mode).

Charging from a standard household socket takes about 12 hours, while a proper Wall Box (or public charging station) reduces that time to four hours, 25 minutes. If you're in a hurry, 30 minutes is enough to reach 80% battery capacity.

It's also possible to recharge the battery when decelerating (through braking and when driving downhill) - commonly known as regenerative braking.

Trim options

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The Ioniq, which comes in refreshingly few trim levels (just Premium and Premium SE) and is well equipped.

Standard equipment includes an 8.0-inch infotainment touchscreen, 7.0-inch driver's display, alloy wheels, leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, air conditioning, automatic wipers and LED headlights.

Driver aids include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Departure Warning System with Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Detection System and Rear Cross Traffic Alert (Premium SE).

How does the Hyundai Ioniq Electric drive?

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Apart from a slight whine at low speeds, the Ioniq Electric is whisper quiet and feels zippy enough with plenty of instant response from the electric motor. Press the

Sport button and there’s a definite power boost, but Eco is just fine.

The brakes seem spongy at first, but that’s not unusual with an electric car because there’s a lot of clever tech going on behind the scenes such as regenerative braking.

There are different levels of regenerative braking available and they are controlled via paddles on the steering column (not unlike the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV).
Set it to the highest level and this noticeably slows the car, but it's quite possible to find a happy medium. In fact, you’ll soon start using the paddles as much as the brakes to slow down. 

And one thing’s for sure, it’s very satisfying to know that everything from braking to coasting is recharging your battery and boosting your range.

The Ioniq Electric handles surprisingly well, partly because the battery sits on the floor meaning there's a low centre of gravity, The ride is comfortable and there's little body roll in corners.

Visibility is generally good, but the rear spoiler splitting the rear hatch screen does take some getting used to.

Hyundai Ioniq: the verdict

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The Hyundai Ionic Electric should be on every EV shortlist. Affordable, attractive, economical and easy to drive, it's also well equipped, safe and spacious.

Compare your next car’s green credentials

Want to take the next step and find out more about electric and hybrid cars? Visit our helpful FAQs page, or take a look at our eco-friendly car comparison tool and discover the environmentally-friendly car that's right for you.

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