Test Driving The Hyundai Ioniq Electric — Exclusive
This story about the Hyundai Ioniq Electric was first published on CleanTechnica
All electric range: 124 miles
MPGe: 136 average: 150 city / 122 highway
On-board charging speed: 6.6 kW J1772 – Level 1&2,
Motor power: 118 horsepower | 88 kW
Torque: 218 lb-ft
Battery capacity: 28 kWh
Battery type: Lithium-ion polymer battery
Base price: $29,500 USD
At first glance, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric is an unassuming 5 door Hyundai that blends in with the rest of the fleet. A closer look reveals a streamlined grille that has been smoothed over with a sleek cover to improve aerodynamics. It guides air it no longer needs for cooling around the vehicle as efficiently as possible. The grill and subtle electric model badging are the only aesthetic touches on the outside that hint at the completely different beast that lies within.
Starting at a hair under $30,000 USD, and with its 124 miles of all electric range, the real question with the Ioniq is whether or not Hyundai packed enough technology and efficiency into the Ioniq for it to compete with the inevitable wave of 150–200+ mile range electric vehicles just around the corner. It is currently only available in California. As such, it is unable to truly compete with the likes of the Chevy Bolt, the Nissan LEAF, and the Tesla Model 3.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric joins the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid, with the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid coming soon to complete the youngest family in Hyundai’s eco vehicle fleet. The Ioniq Electric is also the brand’s first foray into fully electric vehicles. Sporting more electric range than the first set of mass-market electric vehicles on the market, the Ioniq sports 124 miles of all electric range that allow it to more seamlessly blend into the lives of even more drivers around the world.
The real-world range is further stretched by its astonishing 150 MPGe around town and 122 on the highway, helping to reveal just how economical this car truly is. This translates to an extremely low cost to drive, with the Ioniq averaging just over 5 miles per kWh. At the same time, the Ioniq will be able to take on more range per hour of charging, which makes charging while out running around that much easier.
The impressive efficiency of the Ioniq does not come at the expense of performance but rather, Hyundai’s engineers programmed their way around it with 3 driving modes that allow drivers to choose their own adventure depending on how their day is going. Stressful day at work and need to take the long way home to blow off some steam? Sport mode is your best friend. It does not turn the Hyundai into a sports car, but it does give the pedal more pep and response, especially from around 20 miles per hour. On the flipside, Eco mode does as you would expect and tames down the accelerator response as a means of maximizing efficiency. As with most EVs, I found Eco mode extremely therapeutic, as it seems to bring the noise level of life down a few clicks — and with that, it slows my heart rate.
The Ultimate package brings with it a suite of active safety and driving technology solutions that further emphasize the high-tech feel of the car. Do not interpret this as a suite of technology that compares to Tesla’s Autopilot, the current high bar in automotive driving technology packages, but do know that Hyundai has put forth a serious technology suite that improves the safety of the vehicle and improves the driving experience at the same time. The driving technologies include: Traffic Aware Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection, Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and headlights that follow the road.
Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) continues to be one of my favorite driving technologies in today’s production vehicles, and its implementation in the Ioniq is superb. It allows the driver to truly “set [the cruise control speed] and [almost] forget it.” As with traditional cruise control, the driver simply sets the cruise control speed and can then adjust the buffer distance from the car in front. TACC takes over from there and maintains the follow distance using a set of forward-facing radar sensors. It worked flawlessly on the freeway, even bringing the car all the way to a stop several times when I hit traffic. I truly beat on the system, looking for it to fail, but could only get it to budge on the backroads behind Ojai, California, in conditions the system clearly was not designed for.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for what appears to be a tame, fairly vanilla exterior, the Ioniq has proven to be a polarizing design for many. From the side, it looks like many of Hyundai’s vehicles – functional with a sporty undertone. Sliding around front, the vehicle’s personality starts to come out. The location where the grill used to reside has been stylishly covered over with a sleek nose cone that brings out most of the feedback about the vehicle. It screams modern, different, and futuristic all in unison.
Hopping around to the rear of the vehicle, the modern design cues continue thanks to bold angles and LED tail lights. The design is not as severe and polarizing as that of the newest Prius, but it is enough to pull favor with the younger crowd.
Stepping inside the Ioniq we tested, which came with the Ultimate Package, revealed a high-tech, feature-packed vehicle that feels much more like a smartphone than a traditional automobile interior. It speaks technology fluently with the 8” touchscreen LCD bilingual in Android Auto and Apple Carplay, depending on which side of the fence your personal device resides on. The navigation is on par with the suite provided by most automotive manufacturers and is lackluster though functional.
The exterior of this aggressively postured vehicle might lead one to believe that it is cramped and tight inside, but my 6’2”, 200lb frame had no issues with the space. I found it to be roomy in the passenger compartment and heard the same from my two boys (ages 6 and 7) about the rear area. They loved the flip-down center console in the rear and claimed it was their top choice of all the vehicles we have driven. Take that for a grain of salt, as some variant of that message comes out with nearly every vehicle driven.
Flipping to the rear of the vehicle reveals a cargo compartment that is sufficient but by no means voluminous. It was fine for just about anything we would throw at it in the course of a normal week, but when I flipped down the split rear seats and put the vehicle to the test for a larger haul, I found it to be lacking. It was fine for hauling a kid’s bike and a few odds and ends but would strain with larger loads. That said, it is not a truck, so don’t expect it to be capable of truck duties and you won’t likely be disappointed.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric has yet to receive an official safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration but comes with a full complement of safety features that you would expect on comparable vehicles. The ability for safety-conscious drivers to upgrade to a full suite of active safety features is nice, but Hyundai should follow the trend of other automotive manufacturers and include all safety features as standard offerings.
All the Electric Specs
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric comes with a standard 6.6kW J1772 port that provides a full charge in around 4 hours as well as 100kW compatible SAE Combo DC Fast Charging capability that can amp up the battery in a staggering 23 minutes. It is worth noting that most public DC Fast Chargers are either 20kW or 50kW today, which makes Hyundai building in 100kW compatibility that much more impressive. Being able to top up in a tad longer than 20 minutes is an impressive feat for a vehicle that packs in this kind of range.
The Ioniq’s 28kWh lithium-ion polymer battery is not such a massive increase versus its peer group, but the car takes that capacity to the next level with its world-class efficiency. The 5 miles per kWh I achieved over hundreds of miles of real-world testing was a mix of city and freeway driving and surprisingly came in a bit higher than the car’s rated 4 miles per kWh (25 kWh per 100 miles). The EPA rolled those two together and came out with an official rating of 124 miles per charge — though, I typically found the meter pegging out at 150 miles when fully charged. This played out in the real world with several trips averaging over 5 miles per kWh, including one 128-mile trip that was primarily highway driving and came out to 5.1 miles per kWh.
When it comes to efficiency, regeneration — or the ability for the car to use the motor to slow the vehicle, recovering spent electricity in the process — is perhaps one of the least discussed and undervalued pieces of the equation in electric vehicles. EVs can recover a significant portion of the energy spent getting the car moving with regeneration (aka regen), and the way it is implemented not only affects the overall efficiency of the vehicle, but also the behavior of the accelerator pedal.
The Ioniq’s high efficiency is a testament to an intelligent implementation of regen, among other things. Beyond being effective, the system allows the driver to choose one of four regeneration levels ranging from free rolling all the way up to a very intense deceleration that actually triggers the brake lights. This is in accordance with regulation that dictates when the brake lights must activate but speaks to the intensity of the regen. The highest regen still does not have the capability to bring the vehicle to a complete stop like the regen of the Chevy Bolt, but it does allow for the vast majority of the driving to be handled with just the accelerator pedal.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is a well-designed, modern electric vehicle with range and efficiency that open up electric vehicles to more customers than ever before. After the federal, state, and city incentives available in many areas around the world, the efficiency of the Ioniq make it one of the most affordable electric vehicles on the market today.