Lacey Elliott: As current gasoline cars are looking more and more futuristic, the electric cars are starting to blend in and become the new normal. Electric vehicles are the hot topic lately and I am glad that I have had a chance to drive so many of them the last couple of months. With more and more showing up, consumers are getting some great choices.
Dan Heyman: While the Ioniq line-up itself may be a little complicated – a hybrid model joins the EV, and a plug-in hybrid is also on the way – you have to think that this particular version is the flagship, the model that Hyundai wants to use to showcase that they’re right up there with the likes of GM and Nissan when it comes to EV tech. It’s not all talk, either; there’s quite a lot to like here.
LE: The hatch back shape and side profile look just like a regular gasoline powered car. Take a closer and you will notice the electric vehicle badging. Look again and you should notice that the front is missing a grille and air intakes. It was interesting how many people noticed something was different but just couldn’t put their finger on it. The front end also features HID headlights and available LED marker lights. I think the exterior design looks very sharp.
I immediately notice the comfortable, supportive driver’s seat and the good looking interior. Hyundai has always done a great job inside their vehicles so I am not surprised that this Ioniq looks great.
The touch points are soft and feel upscale. For those ‘green conscious’ buyers, the dash is made from 25% sugar cane! It looks fantastic and no one would have a clue of its make-up. All of the controls are well laid out and I appreciate the balance of buttons and knobs with the large touch screen.
The D-cut steering wheel is leather wrapped and heated. Any heated surface is super important to me when I think about what vehicles I would personally buy. Keep in mind, anything electric will use more of your available charge.
The traditional gear shift is missing and replaced with three buttons in the centre console. ‘D’ drive, R for reverse and P (you guessed it, for park). The push button, futuristic drive select is not just showing up on electric vehicles. We are also seeing this style in gas and hybrid vehicles. I have tried it, in several different vehicles and I am not a fan. Pressing a button seems too futuristic to me and it makes me think I am in a video game instead of an actual car.
The Ioniq is about the same size as the Elantra and there is adequate room for all passengers inside. Because of the placement of the battery though, the back seat sits higher up and taller people, like Dan, might find it a bit tight on headroom.
The seats fold flat and there is plenty of room for cargo. Making the short trip to the airport for example, all your luggage will fit inside.
DH: For me, it all boils down to how much you can handle that bandit-like front-end. Since it’s an EV, there’s no need for a big, gaping hole in the font fascia required to cool an engine—because there’s no traditional engine there. It’s darn futuristic, that’s for sure, but I’d hate to think what it would look like covered with bugs after a summer drive, assuming you really want to test that claimed 200 km range. Same goes for any scratches incurred during tight city parking manouevres and the like.
There is some nice details that compliment that front end, however; I’m a fan of the stacked LED foglights as well as the wheels, though I worry their white finish will become mighty tarnished in no short amount of time. No problem in SoCal, where the EV is king but once you start talking about Canadian winters…
The big winner on the styling front, though, is actually the way the roofline and beltline are angled to give the slight impression of a car that’s smaller than it actually is, and sporty, too. It wins out over both the Toyota Prius and Prius Prime in the exterior styling department.
Inside – let’s put away the “sugar cane” chat for a moment — it’s a little more traditional-looking than a Prius; you won’t find any futuristic white plastic dash panels here. “More traditional” shouldn’t be confused with “old-looking”, however; Lacey mentioned some of the great features in her section and I tend to agree with everything she says. I just like how uncluttered it all is, a feeling helped along by that push button transmission. We’ve seen systems like this before, but never as well implemented as it is here. I know it sounds crazy—and that Lacey doesn’t agree—but I actually liked the act of pressing each one to select a gear. I like it because it’s futuristic and fits so well with the overall nature of the Ioniq EV; I guess you could say it’s “ironiq” that an old-school muscle-car lover like myself actually likes this new whizz-bangery, but there you go.
Adding to that uncluttered feel is the fact that since it’s a shift-by-wire system, it doesn’t require a traditional shift linkage so there’s more room around the transmission tunnel for storage and the tunnel itself is more low-profile overall. It adds roominess up front, which is a boon for larger drivers like myself. When it comes to the back seat, I actually didn’t take too much issue with it. Sure, a little more headroom would have been nice, but it’s perfectly suitable for shorter drives – the kind so often undertaken by EVs – and the kids will have no problems back there on longer ones.
ON THE ROAD
LE: Since there is no noise from the engine, driving electric cars are very quiet and takes some time to adjust to. Even on the highway though, road and wind noise is low.
With electric cars, it’s the off-the-line toque that matters and this Ioniq has 218 lb-ft with 118 hp. Putting my foot down, though, causes it to whir instead of growl.
The hybrid version, meanwhile, has the same independent rear suspension as the Elantra. Because of the battery placement this EV has a less sophisticated torsion-beam design.
The regenerative braking system has steering wheel mounted shifters and helps to recapture energy when slowing down.
As you have noticed, battery placement in an EV can really have an effect on the design and drive of the car. Thankfully, this battery placement helps to keep the centre of gravity low and the car feels very planted in all driving conditions.
DH: At first I scoffed at the fact that there was actually a “Sport” drive mode – I mean, this is an eco-centric city runabout, after all, hardly a setting for ultra-fast throttle response and heavier steering – but when you consider how solid and confidence-inspiring the ride is, I can sort of see it.
Not that I spent much time in that mode, however. When driving a car like this, the challenge is to maintain as much range as possible and flooring it in sport mode at every green light isn’t really going to work. Indeed, when I activated Eco mode, I noticed right away a change in the dynamics. The throttle is quite a bit more resistant and the distance driven versus what the trip computer was claiming became much more consistent. If you’re going to test Hyundai’s claimed 200 km EV range, you’re going to want to keep it in Eco.
You’re also going to want to make use of those paddles Lacey mentions. Flip the left-hand side paddle and the amount of regenerative drag builds up to level three. The right paddle one pulls it back down. It makes sense, when you think about it; in most cars, flipping the left paddle means a downshift and thus, some engine braking. The right paddle does the opposite so it makes sense that you feel the drag build when you flip the left paddle, just as you would during a downshift in a standard car. You always start in the lowest setting, though, so you’ll want to keep that in mind. I found it to be quite a well-implemented system as I found myself using it numerous times during a drive, just as I did in the Chevrolet Volt, which offers a similar system.
Having said that, as much as Eco mode makes sense, there is something somewhat perversely appealing about selecting Sport and just giving it the beans. Being an EV with a direct-drive automatic transmission, power delivery is instantaneous and almost sports car-like. And, while the low rolling-resistance tires aren’t the most grippy, they’re sticky enough and don’t’ compromise the ride much at all. It’s a car that may look smaller than it is, but one that drives bigger than it is, too, with a calm, quiet ride befitting of much more upscale cars. Even the steering has some actual weight to it! Who woulda thunk it?
SAFETY & TECHNOLOGY
LE: With a regular outlet that you already have at home, it will take 24hours to get a full charge on the Ioniq. Installing a 240V charger will cut the time down to only 4.5 hours. With a full charge, the Ioniq EV is rated to get 200km. This is similar to the VW E-Golf but less than the Chevy Bolt that gets over 380km.
On any normal day a 200 km range is more than enough for me. I drive under 100 km a day and had zero stress or worries about range anxiety.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard. The available Infinity audio system includes and external amplifier and eight strategically placed speakers that deliver impressive sound.
The Ioniq Limited is close to $ 42,000 and has an impressive list of features to keep everyone comfortable: adaptive cruise control, heated seats both front and rear, automatic climate control and a giant 8-inch infotainment screen, among many others.
The base SE model is approximately $35,500 but is missing some of the creature comforts that I would want. Even though I know it would take away from my charge, I would add the cold weather package to get heated seats for an additional $1,200
Of course, the rebates offered in your home province make the starting prices more reasonable.
DH: The infotainment and all is just fine, but I do wish that there was a better power-flow meter on offer. As it stands right now, the only power-flow indicator you get sits within the gauge cluster, which makes it tougher to read and means you lose that space for other important drive info. There is a display on the main infotainment screen that shows your expected range, nearby charging stations and your battery level but it’s hard to read at a glance and there’s no power flow meter here. I do like how it lets you set all manner of EV settings, from when the charging occurs when plugged in, to when your climate control kicks in. It’s all very user-friendly, once you take some time to learn it a little.
Also Read: 2018 Nissan Leaf EV takes you even Further
LE: Last year the question I asked was, “Would I buy an electric vehicle?” The question that is now deep in my thoughts are, “Which one would I buy and why?” This Ioniq really feels like a ‘normal’ car. It delivers a nice drive with modern design and all the safety and comfort features most people want.
DH: I’ve sampled both the Hybrid and EV versions of the Ioniq, and after my week with the latter, I was surprised to find that it would be the one I’d choose. That’s assuming, of course, that I’d be doing most of my driving in the city or close to a charge station. It just runs so durn quietly but manages to also drive so well that you get a real taste of the best of both worlds, which is not something you can always say with vehicles like this. Mark me down as a big fan.
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