Hyundai Ioniq: Charging up the ranks
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When Hyundai NZ brought in the EV version of the Ioniq hatchback, the brand probably wasn't expecting the impact this segment is now having on our roads.
The company launched two variants -- a hybrid and an EV -- into the New Zealand market earlier this year, and recently Driven tested the EV Elite model.
The Ioniq EV starts at $59,990, making it the cheapest new electric vehicle in New Zealand, just below Mitsubishi's popular, and successful, Outlander PHEV, while my Elite EV is $65,990.
The EV Ioniq's battery produces 88kW of power and 295Nm of torque, and has a single-speed, direct-drive transmission, with N (neutral), R (reverse) and D (drive) buttons in the centre console that indicate your transmission needs.
The battery has a 10-year unlimited warranty with a 200km "real-world driving"capacity.
The five-seater Ioniq is 4470mm long, 1820mm wide and 1460mm high, with a large boot space of 350 litres, weighing 1430kg.
The good-looking hatchback has air curtains over the front wheels; a rear spoiler and sleek appearance -- and the C-shaped daytime running lights give it a sophisticated appeal. The EV has a plastic nose, rather than grille, differentiating it from the hybrid.
While hybrids have dominated our roads for two decades, pure EVs are beginning to make a big impact; thanks to used import Nissan Leafs and Tesla.
Hyundai NZ realises that the Ioniq EV would sit nicely as a fleet vehicle, with our parent company NZME among an increasing number of businesses looking to add EVs to their fleet.
Hyundai NZ is running a $199 per week purchase deal on the Ioniq to ignite more interest in the EV.
With its 200km range, the Ioniq EV makes for an easy fleet vehicle, especially for city-based businesses such as NZME where the vehicles can be charged overnight when not in use. So you can forget about hopping in the work car and seeing the previous driver 'forgot' to fill it with petrol.
But what is the Ioniq like as a family vehicle? Among Hyundais, it's about the same size as an i30. There is room for five passengers plus enough boot space for a weekly supermarket shop.
Operating the car is easy thanks to the N, D and R buttons, and it handles like a city-based hatchback with the bonus of torque when you hit the motorway.
The Ioniq's brake regenerating mode has a major impact on battery life (and reducing range anxiety) plus it changes the drive style of the vehicle.
Like the BMW i3 EV, the moment you take your foot off the accelerator the Ioniq begins to brake (and tops up the battery). It has a juddering impact for passengers but you don't need it turned on all the time -- just for the top-ups to the battery.
The EV has the standard two charge points with an estimated time of four hours to recharge from an adaptor or up to 14 hours from a home plug.
The hybrid is similar to Prius when it comes to driving characteristics; while "Sport" mode gives the Ioniq added power, and the interior is better looking than the Toyota.
Sure, it doesn't have the impact a Tesla does on the road. I was dropped off at Hyundai NZ's HQ in a Model X, and that vehicle with its falcon wings had buildings empty out as employees shot videos of the USA car.
While the Model X was a head-turner, the Ioniq is half the price of the entry-level Model X.
The Ioniq's layout remains in the family style with a central infotainment screen, and a diagram explaining how many kms you have left in the battery in the driver console.
During my four-day drive I didn't need to charge it as I was only doing a 20-plus km round trip a day, and by the time I handed it back it had 8km left on the battery.
But there are a few niggly points with the Ioniq with the worst being the rear window and its woeful blind spot. The large rear window is split with a 'spoiler/brake light' lip that limits your rear view.
Thankfully, the reversing camera helps when backing out of car park spaces, but not on the road.
I'm hoping that by facelift time in three years, the lip will be gone and vision restored.
Hyundai Ioniq EV Elite
Pro: City suitable range
Con: Rear blind spot