Interested electric car buyers rejoice. Having to choose between the ever-popular Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen e-Golf and others just became more difficult.
Enter the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. Up until now, Hyundai has been keen to pursue its own version of electrification, with the hydrogen powered ix35 Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV). However, the growing realisation that battery electric cars are showing increasing market promise could not be ignored and while sister company, Kia, had the Soul EV, Hyundai had nothing.
Fast forward a couple of years and the hype about electric cars has almost reached fever pitch.
Enter the Ioniq, a car with hybrid, plugin hybrid and battery electric powertrains representing Hyundai’s answer to the competition. With this car, Hyundai added all three major powertrains to their repertoire in one fell swoop. However, to stand any chance of success each model needed to be world class to beat established brand names like Prius, GTE and Leaf. We were impressed by the Ioniq Hybrid (reviewed in issue 17) that managed to raise the hybrid game against the likes of Toyota, so the main question on our minds was whether they had managed to do the same for the Electric variant when compared to mainstay competition including the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Kia Soul EV and BMW i3.
Externally, the Ioniq Electric is little different from the Hybrid or new Plug-in Hybrid variant, with only a large awkward looking grey plastic bumper in place of a more conventional air intake on the nose. Internally, things are little more defined. The electric version sports a fancy copper trim detail throughout the cabin and several EV-only subtle modifiers that mark the car out, but that’s all.
There’s a strange push-button gear selection in place of a more conventional stick, and paddle shifters adorn the steering wheel that alter the strength of regenerative braking. The latter ensures a more involved drive than most EVs – more on this later.
Aside from this, the cabin remains the same as in the other Ioniqs, which is a bit of a shame considering it has no petrol engine. It would have been nice, for example, to see a Tesla style frunk/froot, but the front wheel drive powertrain prohibits this. Nevertheless, the interior is a successful blend of [mostly] quality plastics with comfortable seating and a definite premium feel. Rear occupants will be grateful for the ample legroom, as will shoppers who discover the abundant 350-litre boot capacity. The interior is easily more premium than a Leaf, but doesn’t quite manage the aura of the i3, or the quality of the e-Golf.
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