Hyundai Ioniq Electric review

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric has had a mid-life facelift, bringing more range, more power and a new infotainment screen

Hyundai Ioniq Electric
£32,950 - £34,950
£29,450 - £31,450
Electric

Pros

  • Well equipped
  • Efficient powertrain
  • Practical family car

Cons

  • Poor visibility
  • Uninvolving to drive
  • Might soon look out of date
Car type Official range Wallbox charge time Rapid charge time
Electric 194 miles 6hrs 5mins (7kW) <1hr (50kW, 0-80%)

Given the relentless progress in the electric-car market over the last year or two, you’d be forgiven for forgetting the Hyundai Ioniq Electric still exists. First introduced in 2016, the unremarkable family hatchback has quickly slipped into afterthought territory as newer, more capable cars captured our imagination.

What was needed was a facelift, and a significant one at that. Enter the new, improved Ioniq Electric: complete with more range, more power and more technology than before.

On a full charge, the Ioniq Electric now offers 194 miles of range, up from the 174 delivered by the old car. That might not seem like a huge jump, but dig a little deeper and two things stand out: first, the previous version was tested on the now-defunct NEDC procedure, which was a lot more generous than the new, more representative WLTP system.

Second, the Ioniq Electric delivers that range from a 38.3kWh battery, meaning its theoretical efficiency of over five miles per kilowatt-hour is right up there with our Kia e-Niro long-term test car.

How has Hyundai managed this? Well, various changes to the exterior make the Ioniq Electric more aerodynamic: a new grille, headlights (now LEDs, as are the tail-lights) and 16-inch alloy wheels all help here, while new tyres reduce rolling resistance and thus save energy.

Pleasingly, the upgrades have had the desired effect. Warm conditions on our test route in the Netherlands were just about perfect for maximising range, however even a long stint on the motorway couldn’t push the computer’s readout above 12kWh/100km (5.2 miles/kWh).

In milder conditions on UK roads, the efficiency will no doubt drop, but running costs look set to be low, with potential wallbox charging costs of well under three pence per mile.

The powertrain has also been upgraded: the Ioniq’s single electric motor now produces 134bhp, with 0-62mph achieved in 9.7 seconds en route to a top speed of 96mph.

Behind the wheel, the Ioniq feels like a typical electric car, with hefty acceleration in the 0-30mph range but less urgency after that. Body lean is well suppressed in corners, but while the steering is light, there’s little in the way of feel. Don’t be put off, though: the car's point-and-squirt ability is good fun around town, and there’s enough performance to overtake with ease on the motorway.

It’s here that the Ioniq Electric’s new, four-stage regenerative braking system performs best, allowing you to scrub speed without using the brakes. Hyundai says the highest setting will provide ‘one-pedal’ driving, similar to the Nissan Leaf’s e-Pedal system, but in practice it’s not quite strong enough to bring the car to timely stop at junctions or roundabouts.

Inside, the interior has been overhauled: a new 10.25-inch touchscreen – compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – is standard, and it sits higher than before to make it easier to read. The instrument cluster behind the wheel is also crystal clear, although the touch-sensitive buttons on the centre console are tricky to use while driving.

The Ioniq compensates to a degree with various active driver assistance systems: high-beam assist, a rear-view monitor, rear parking sensors, smart cruise control and automatic emergency braking (AEB) all make life a little easier, while wireless smartphone charging, keyless entry and heated front seats make for a generous standard kit list.

Meanwhile, Hyundai’s BlueLink app allows you to monitor charging remotely: you can expect a 50kW, Type 2 public charger to deliver a 0-80% charge in under an hour, while a home wallbox will perform a full top-up in six hours and five minutes.

So have the updates put the Ioniq Electric back at the cutting edge? No, and far from it. But it is an electric car that gets the basics right: it’s efficient, spacious, comfortable, well equipped and poses a serious threat to the Leaf. Those who can’t afford a Tesla Model 3 should also seriously consider it.

There’s something else, too: thanks to the government’s £3,500 plug-in car discount, the Ioniq Electric is now cheaper than its plug-in hybrid sibling. In the UK at least, that’s a first. Let’s hope it’s a sign of things to come.

For a more detailed look at the Hyundai Ioniq Electric, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.