In some ways, the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Premium is the quiet achiever in the growing electric car field.
While we’re testing the pure-electric variant, you can of course choose from either a conventional hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure-electric like we’re concentrating on here. In short, then, Hyundai reckons there’s something for everyone in the Ioniq range, and it’s a clever way of hedging your bets to cover as much of the market as possible.
They might just be right too. If pure electric doesn’t yet work with your lifestyle (one-car household, for example), then one of the other drivetrains might make more sense for you. Having a choice is no bad thing either, of course. MG has stolen plenty of the pure-electric limelight thanks to its sharp pricing with the ZS EV, but the Ioniq – as you’ll see in a minute – isn’t that far away.
Whichever way you look at it, though, the electric segment is not just growing but expanding in terms of body style/segment and getting more competitive by the month. By that I mean we’re seeing large SUVs, small sedans, hatches, and large sedans all mixing it up at the moment. As more join the fray, we’ll be better able to segment them to compete with each other on a ‘like for like’ basis. Which, some might argue, is a much fairer fight anyway.
For instance, the Ioniq is a small sedan and the MG ZS EV is a compact SUV, so in effect you’re comparing two completely different body types if you’re shopping at this end of the electric vehicle market. At the moment, that is. That will change quickly, though.
And, despite Toyota catching the jump in a hybrid sense, and other brands catching the jump in a pure-electric sense, Hyundai is undoubtedly making serious inroads across the board. It makes for a broader palette for you, the buyer, as well, and it is also why Hyundai is continuing development of other powertrain options like hydrogen.
|2021 Hyundai Ioniq EV Premium|
|Power and torque||100kW/295Nm|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|ANCAP safety rating||Five-star (tested 2018)|
|Warranty||Five years/unlimited km|
|Driving range||311km (WLTP)|
|Charging time||80 per cent capacity in 57 mins on a 50kW fast-charger|
|Tow rating braked, unbraked||Unrated|
|Main competitors||Hyundai Kona, Nissan Leaf, MG ZS EV|
On test here we’ve got the Hyundai Ioniq Premium, which starts from $53,010 before on-road costs. It is therefore a full $10,000 more than the MG ZS EV as tested here. There is, however, an entry specification for the Ioniq, the Elite, which starts from $48,970 before on-road costs. While it’s true that electric vehicles are getting slowly more affordable, it’s also true that they remain a long way from parity with internal-combustion options at this stage.
Incidentally, we’ve recently had a lot of questions relating to the electric Ioniq specifically, so we’ve added one to the CarAdvice long-term fleet. That way we get to spend more time with it over the next few months, so stay tuned for that. Our long-termer is the more affordable, entry-grade model.
Recent changes for the updated model included new head- and tail-lights, a revised grille design, new wheel designs, and a revised interior. Over and above a comprehensive suite of standard equipment for both model grades, Premium also gets LED headlights, electric park brake, a larger digital instrument cluster, heated and cooled front seats, power adjustment for the driver, wireless phone charging and front parking sensors.
The big-ticket change with the revised Ioniq came with the battery pack, a move designed to improve driving range. The liquid-cooled pack is now rated at 38.3kWh, up from 28kWh on the previous model. With higher energy density and a higher maximum power output, Hyundai claims a real-world driving range of 311km. The electric motor now generates 100kW, up from the previous model’s 88kW into the bargain.
We won’t be charging at public chargers on this test, but if you can find a 100kW DC fast-charger, Hyundai claims 54 minutes from zero to 80 per cent. Use a 50kW fast-charger and it takes 58 minutes. Typically, as we do with most electric vehicles we test, we’ll charge it with a wall box like you’d have at home if you own an electric car, and occasionally just a regular power point.
We write this often when we test electric cars, but it’s worth stating again here. Set a wall box up at home, and you’ll easily have a full charge in the morning when you leave for work having plugged the Ioniq in the night before. Given the vagaries of public charging right now, setting up at home is absolutely the smart option.
Infotainment is controlled via a 10.25-inch high-resolution touchscreen, which we found to work well on test. Smartphone connectivity never let us down and the screen is responsive enough to touch inputs. Typical of Hyundai, it might not have the latest and greatest in terms of graphics or appearance, but what it does have is clear and concise.
The cabin is comfortable, spacious and user-friendly. Storage is particularly well catered to, with safe spaces for wallets, keys, phones and small bags. Useful cup and bottle holders also feature, and the cabin seems to belie the compact external dimensions of the Ioniq. The way that you can accommodate four adults, for example, makes it the perfect city runaround in terms of space and comfort.
First and foremost, the Ioniq is a city-focused electric car, but the practicality and comfort it offers hint at genuine longer touring ability. Boot space is useful – 357L with the second row in use, out to 1417L if you fold those seats down. In other words, there’s more than enough storage space for this size of vehicle.
Power usage was an interesting one for us on test. When I test an electric vehicle, I tend to leave it in Eco mode as often as possible, because I’m less concerned with how fast it is, and more interested in the way in which it uses energy.
The Ioniq has four modes – Sport, Normal, Eco and Eco+ – and for this test I again opted for Eco as my default driving mode. Eco+ is obviously even more frugal, but it also limits top speed to 90km/h, defaults to air-conditioning off, and ramps up the regenerative braking. It’s best suited to around-town running, in other words, whereas Eco gives you a good compromise between efficiency and driving behaviour.
Weighing in at 1575kg, it’s no super heavyweight either, certainly in an electric-vehicle sense, where the reality of battery packs and weight are very much realised. The Ioniq doesn’t feel heavy when you’re driving it either. It’s firm on the road, but doesn’t ever feel like it’s too heavy for the powertrain.
In short, though, the Ioniq is impressively efficient in the real world. The lowest live figure we saw on a flat stretch of road at 80km/h was just 8.8kWh/100km. Consumption sat there for a few minutes at that speed, too, but you can’t realistically achieve that in most situations.
Regularly, though, driving in traffic with the occasional highway stretch, the average usage figure sat between 10.5kWh/100km and 11.6kWh/100km. The first figure came back as the average over 101km of city driving, while the second came over 111km (also of city driving), so those consumption figures should be repeatable by most drivers day-to-day.
Those usage figures also mean that Hyundai’s 311km claim is quite realistic, and we found the Ioniq to be pretty clever in harvesting back electricity if you’re watching the readouts. That’s another area where electric cars aren’t all created equal, but when you’re on and off the brake in traffic, it’s nice to know that you can gain some charge back just by driving as you would anyway.
Ride quality is, as we’ve come to expect from Hyundai of late, insulated and comfortable. The cabin obviously loses all powertrain noise bar a slight whirring, so there is a little wind or tyre noise that can sneak in, but the drive experience is otherwise comfortable. Bump absorption is excellent given the weight of the battery pack and how that can often affect ride quality. Around town, though, where the Ioniq is likely to ply its trade, the ride is excellent.
The Ioniq is covered by a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty as per the Hyundai brief, with the pure electric asking $160 per service. That means you’re spending $800 over the first five years/75,000km. The battery pack on all Ioniq variants is covered for eight years/160,000km.
We make this claim all the time, but right now, electric vehicles aren’t for everybody. Whether it’s cost, range or the type of vehicle, there’s a certain type of buyer who can use an electric vehicle, and not everyone fits that mould. If you are keen on exploring the electric-vehicle field, though, the Ioniq is a solid option that offers everything we expect from Hyundai, with a modern powertrain.