The new Hyundai IONIQ Electric offers a longer driving range than the previous model, responsive acceleration, a comfortable ride, and a low centre of gravity, resulting in good handling.
When it was launched in 2016 the Hyundai IONIQ was the world’s first car planned from the start to offer three electrified powertrains – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric. The electric version now has a longer driving range – but there are other EVs with even longer ranges – so should you consider the IONIQ?
The key change with the new IONIQ Electric is that the Lithium-ion Polymer battery has been upgraded from 28 kWh to 38.3 kWh, giving 36% added energy capacity.
There are minor changes on the exterior of the car, the most noticeable being the front grille. With the last IONIQ Electric model it really looked like the designers didn’t know what to do with the grille; this has now been changed for the new model, but it’s a case of being different rather than better. Combined with the relatively small 16-inch wheels, other IONIQ models look better from a visual point of view. The flat grey paint of our test car didn’t help – other colours are available.
Hyundai interiors are generally clear and sensible, and this is also the case with the IONIQ; the interior of the latest model has been updated, particularly the panel for heating and climate controls which sits below the new, wider touchscreen.
The IONIQ’s body style has been designed more for efficiency than lots of space, and it’s worth noting that the IONIQ’s boot in particular isn’t especially large or deep.
Many car buyers want to buy SUVs, but the IONIQ shows the benefits of a car that sits closer to the road and that has the main weight of its powertrain – ie. the battery – low down in the vehicle. The result is a car that handles well, and combined with the responsive acceleration of an electric powertrain, this means that the IONIQ is good to drive. The ride is also comfortable – the high profile tyres no doubt help with this. And like most EVs, it’s quiet, smooth and refined.
Because the IONIQ has a smaller battery than many other EVs this also means that it’s lighter (1,527 kg), which again helps the driving experience.
Although the IONIQ’s responses are good in Normal drive mode, you can select the Sport, which improves things still further, giving the feel of a hot hatch in terms of acceleration from standstill. There’s also an Eco drive mode, and if you really need to eke out the battery range, there’s Eco+.
There are steering wheel-mounted paddles, which don’t change gear, but instead allow you to adjust the level of regenerative braking.
On the downside, all the torque going through the front wheels (with relatively narrow Eco tyres) means that levels of grip aren’t great, although the traction control system generally manages things well. And when you need to come to a halt, you’ll find that the brakes don’t inspire confidence.
There’s no ‘gear stick’ – just buttons for Park, Drive and Reverse. The rest of the interior has clear controls and the certain elements of the dashboard have been refreshed for this latest model. You can also adjust the steering column for reach – something that you can’t do in a Nissan LEAF.
A spoiler sits right across the centre of the rear window, which can block out the headlights of vehicles behind the car at night in the rear-view mirror. But a large, clear image from the rear camera on the touchscreen helps with reversing. The satnav mapping is also very clear, and other useful features, especially for winter, include heated seats, heated steering wheel, and driver-only heating to conserve the battery.
You can also pre-heat the car in winter (or cool it in summer) using an app, and control the charging, thanks to Hyundai Bluelink – another feature that’s new for the latest IONIQ.
The official WLTP combined electric range of the new IONIQ Electric is 194 miles. In the real-world, in autumn, the IONIQ was typically displaying a range of 177 miles when fully charged.
The new IONIQ has a 7.2 kW on-board charger, rather than the 6.6 kW charger of the previous model, which results in a 0-80% charge time of around 6 hours using a 7 kW home charge point. At a 50 kW rapid public charge point the time for a 0-80% charge reduces to around one hour.
The Hyundai IONIQ Electric has emissions of 0 g/km CO2 so it will attract a zero Benefit in Kind company car tax rating from April 2020.
The Hyundai IONIQ Electric costs £34,950, or £31,450 after the £3,500 UK government plug-in car grant. There also the Premium spec model, which costs £32,950, or £29,450 after the grant.
The IONIQ has an 8 year or 125,000 miles high voltage battery warranty.
We liked the Hyundai IONIQ Electric on its original UK launch, which took place on some of the best roads in North Wales. It handled corners with minimum roll, yet also had a good ride, and it delivered responsive acceleration.
The IONIQ Electric has now had a mid-life refresh, with the most significant change being the longer driving range – which, officially, is now 194 miles. This is a welcome improvement, but things have also moved on with other EVs, and even Hyundai’s own Kona Electric can deliver 300 miles of range in the real-world. Many motorists say they need an EV with a 300 mile range before they’ll make the change from their petrol or diesel car, and for those people, the Kona will appeal more. But for people who don’t need to cover those sort of mileages between charges, then the IONIQ is perfectly good and a refreshing change from the driving behaviours of a high-riding SUV. The latest Hyundai IONIQ Electric gains a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.