Hyundai Ioniq Electric Car Review

REC Solar
Electric cars and solar panels are a match made in heaven when it comes to reducing emissions in the battle against climate change, but are electric cars a realistic alternative for UK drivers? After driving the Hyundai Ioniq for a year, Solar Guide’s very own Rob Wells gives his honest and detailed review of this popular electric car.

One year and 22,000 miles in my Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Electric cars don’t have enough range to do lots of miles and long journeys, right? Well, this to me is the common misconception when it comes to electric cars. I actually think that 95% of people would be fine with a modern electric car, most of which can do between 120 and 160 miles on a single charge.

In order to prove this, I decided to get the car right in the middle of that range; the Hyundai Ioniq is capable of 140 miles on a charge (in the summer at least). The reason I was a good test case is because my job at the time was basically a travelling sales/account manager. I spent a lot of time on the road seeing clients so I was certainly doing higher than average mileage; if it worked for me, most should be able to deal with it.


 
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From using the Ioniq for a year I found it to be an excellent car; the instant acceleration of the electric motor means that it is very easy and, dare I say it, rather good fun to drive. It is hugely practical and cost very little to transport me around the country for 22,000 miles.

Charging and Efficiency

Home Charging

I mainly charged the car at home. I lived approximately 30 miles away from work so the 60 mile round trip meant that in winter months I need to charge every night; I only forgot to plug it in once during that time but yes, it was very problematic that day. In the warmer months I could get away with a charge every other night, as long as I didn’t need to go anywhere in the evening after work. The electric car life does certainly need a lot more planning than normal.

In terms of cost, I was on a non-economy seven tariff for most of the year and the cost was 10.8p per Kwh. The battery in the Ioniq is 28 Kwh so it cost 302p to “fill up”. In the winter that would amount to around 100 miles so 3.2p per mile. In the spring and summer it would be more like 2.2p per mile.

I would heavily recommend getting on to an economy seven tariff or getting solar panels for anyone who is contemplating an electric car. Once I got economy seven, my price per Kwh went down to 8.4p and charging the car accounted for the majority of my household electricity use. This brought the cost down to 2.4p per mile in the winter and 1.7p per mile in the summer.

Cost Comparison

Ioniq Petrol Diesel
Cost per Mile (W) 3.2p 11.9p 9.9p
Cost per Mile (S) 2.2p 11.9p 9.9p
Avg. Cost 22,000 miles £594.00 £2,618.00 £2,178.00

*Petrol costs based on typical UK petrol prices for 2019 and avg. fuel economy of 40mpg
**Diesel costs based on typical UK diesel prices for 2019 and avg. fuel economy of 50mpg

Of course, if I had solar panels generating free electricity at home this could have reduced my running costs even further. Solar panels and electric vehicles are a great match for this reason so if you’re considering one, it would be a shame not to look into getting the other.


 
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Charging on the Road

Home charging took care of my daily commute without an issue (except for the day I forgot to plug in); whereas on the days I went to see clients or went on holiday in the UK, I was at the mercy of the rapid charging network. I used a number of different providers over the course of the year including; Ecotricity, Polar and Pod Point.

The charging infrastructure in the UK is certainly not up to scratch; this is what puts a lot of people off electric cars. I certainly had some very poor experiences which leave you stressed and ultimately, stranded. The feeling of helplessness is something I can only akin to the train you rely on to get home being cancelled. Ecotricity have pioneered the industry and have charging points at most service stations on the major motorways. That is simultaneously good and bad; you can usually rely on a charging point being located in a place you can stop and get some food – although the CCS charger which the Ioniq requires for rapid charging is not as common as the Chademos for the Nissan Leaf. The bad news is that Ecotricity’s network is getting old, whilst they are updating and upgrading in late 2019 and early 2020, this is long overdue. This leads to quite a lot reliability issues and I have had to sit on a slow charger for hours at a time when a rapid charger is not working. Secondly, Ecotricity seemingly have a monopoly on Motorway services which means that there is only ever two charging points (three if you’re really lucky), so you often have to risk going to a point which has reported issues, or you end up queueing to get on the point due to other electric car drivers charging. In terms of cost, Ecotricity charges 30p per Kwh, unless you get your household electricity through them in which case you get a discount. So significantly more expensive than charging from home but ultimately a necessity.

Polar are not at service stations but are often at Holiday Inns and other hotel chains, which means they have good coverage but you have to get off the motorway for usually a mile or two to get to them. Their machines are generally more modern and reliable but when I was using them at least, there was a subscription involved which meant a monthly charge of around £8. They are now introducing contactless, subscription free payments as BP have purchased Chargemaster who run Polar. Due to the subscription, many of the Polar charging points were free to use, some charged at 9p per Kwh.

Cost Comparison

Ioniq Petrol Diesel
Cost per Mile (W) 8.4p 11.9p 9.9p
Cost per Mile (S) 6p 11.9p 9.9p
Avg. Cost 22,000 miles £1,584.00 £2,618.00 £2,178.00

*Petrol costs based on typical UK petrol prices for 2019 and avg. fuel economy of 40mpg
**Diesel costs based on typical UK diesel prices for 2019 and avg. fuel economy of 50mpg

Driveability

Regenerative Braking

The Ioniq has three settings for regen braking and it is easy to switch between them by using paddles on the steering wheel. The system does not bring you to a full stop like the system in the Nissan Leaf but will slow you to almost walking pace, at which point you need to take over with the conventional brakes. It becomes an intuitive and easy to use system after a bit of getting used to it and is another factor in making this car excellent to drive around town.

Performance

As I mentioned earlier, the Hyundai Ioniq certainly feels a lot more powerful than it is; with that instant power from the electric motor being very useful in town. So let’s start with how powerful it actually is. The car is equipped with the equivalent of 118bhp – certainly nothing special – which is basically the normal kind of powertrain you’d get on a standard hatchback. In terms of torque, it has 295Nm which is hitting on the levels you would expect from a premium saloon car which is a bit sporty. The difference is that the electric motor delivers both of these power ratings instantly – i.e. you get an instant response from the accelerator pedal. No gears, no optimum power in a rev range which takes a while to get to, just instant power.

That is what creates the fun in this car; it always amused me to be in a car that looks a bit Prius-esque and pull away from (almost) everyone at the traffic lights. Don’t get me wrong, this will not set your world alight if you are a keen driver and want a performance car; but it might surprise you if you are looking for a practical, fun-to-drive hatchback.

Handling

The main failure for Hyundai on this car is traction. It is a front-wheel drive car with a lot of torque (as mentioned); this leads to some wheel spinning if you put your foot down off the line and the surface is a bit wet or there is some dirt or loose gravel. This could have been solved with a limited slip differential but let’s be honest, that was always unlikely on this type of car and generally unnecessary, with a small gain in certain situations probably raising the price significantly.

In terms of the steering, it is, again, surprisingly good. It is heavily assisted when maneuvering, to the point where it is without a doubt the loudest steering rack I’ve ever come across. However, once you get out onto the open road, it is responsive and there is enough feeling so that you know what you’re doing. Not sporty by any means, but not terrible.

Maneuvering

The light steering at slow speeds, the responsiveness of the accelerator, as well as driving aids such as a reversing camera and parking sensors, mean that this car extremely easy to maneuver. One aspect to note is that the standard version does not have front parking sensors, so if that is a deal breaker you can get the Premium SE version.

Driver Aids

Being an electric car, the Hyundai Ioniq has a lot of tech which has only just started coming into petrol and diesel models. It has adaptive cruise control which will keep you a specified distance from the car in front; very useful on motorways but I also used it a lot on A-roads during my commute, where at a busy time you know there’s no point in getting close to the car in front, it makes it much more relaxing to let the car react to them slowing and speeding up.

Lane keep assist is another great feature and, in theory, when you get on the motorway the two features combined can drive you. However, the lane keep assist is not on the same level as the Nissan Leaf’s Pro Pilot and nowhere near Tesla’s system. Rather, it is for emergencies and will basically bob you from one side of the lane to the other. Usable if you know its limitations.

The most useful feature on the car for me as the Auto Hold function; this is something which features on most Hyundais and Kias and basically means that when you come to a full stop, you can take your foot off the break and the car will hold you there until you put your foot on the accelerator to set off again. It sounds simple but the for the sheer amount of times I used it, it became my favourite tool.

The Interior

Trim Levels

There are two trim levels available on the fully electric version of the Ioniq; Premium and Premium SE. I had the Premium version which comes with pretty much everything you need (unless you need front parking sensors):

  • Heated Front Seats
  • Heated Steering Wheel
  • Rear Parking Camera and Sensors
  • MMI Infotainment Screen with Apple Car Play & Android Auto
  • Satellite Navigation
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane-keep Assist
  • Climate Control

The main additions you get with the Premium SE version are:

  • Leather Seats
  • Cooled Seats (as well as Heated Seats)
  • Front Parking Sensors
  • Memory Seat Settings for Driver’s Seat

Quality

In the Premium version the quality was generally good; there were plenty of soft touch materials up high, with a few harder plastics lower down. The upholstery was OK; personally I’d have preferred the leather but that is often down to personal preference. All of the materials that you touch regularly such as the steering wheel and controls, are of good quality.

The seats are comfortable; I did a lot of miles in the car and it is easy to find a good driving position, with lots of customisation in the seating position and the steering wheel is fully adjustable.

Practicality

In terms of passenger space, you can easily fit four people (including the driver) without any issues. Five might be a bit of a strain for long journeys but won’t be a problem for short to medium ones.

The boot is practical, without much of a load lip and the back seats fold down to create a flat floor. I was renovating a house when I had the car and used it to transport all kinds of household items, including an oven, as well as many tip runs.

Price

Compared to petrol and diesel equivalents (and even the hybrid version of this car) the Ioniq Electric is expensive. Manufacturers have not made the switch to mass producing electric vehicles so they have not been able to offer them at competitive prices yet. Frustratingly, as with most electric cars, there was a massive waiting list for this car so Hyundai could have manufactured many more of them. It is well known in the car industry that the reason they don’t is because they want to eek out as much profit from petrol and diesel cars while they still can; let’s hope that changes in the next few years and electric cars become a lot more affordable.

This model of the Ioniq is no longer available, it has been replaced with a new, bigger battery version which is basically the same with a longer range. However, let’s talk about the second hand price of the particular model we have been talking about in this review. For a ‘68 plate, 22,000 mile example, you can expect to pay around £20,000. This is compared to a new price of around £30,000 for a car that is still in excellent condition, with 2 years of warranty left.

How does the Ioniq compare to other affordable electric vehicles on the market? Take a look at our comparison of Hyundai Ioniq vs Renault Zoe.

Servicing & Maintenance

The beauty of electric cars is that there are far fewer moving parts and mechanically, they are much simpler than petrol or diesel cars. In addition, you use the breaks so little because of the re-gen, therefore pads and disks are likely to last for 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

To give you an idea, I had a minor service carried out at a Hyundai dealership and it cost £85.

Conclusion

I loved my Hyundai Ioniq Electric and I was sorry to have to hand it back at the end of the year. It is extremely easy and relaxing to drive, it is as cheap to run as you can make it with a bit of clever electricity tariff management.

The trade-offs are that the charging infrastructure in the UK is not good enough; caveated with it is fine 95% of the time. The Ioniq is not the best looking car in the world however, when I described it as Prius-esque earlier, I didn’t mean it that is is anywhere near as ugly as its grotesque Japanese counterpart (sorry, Toyota).

In considering the Ioniq, or any electric car, do some serious thinking and keep an open mind; as I said from the start if it worked for me and the kind of mileage I do, it is very likely that it will work for the majority of the UK population. The main barrier is the price but that will be coming down imminently and there are already some great second hand deals. Also, check out lease deals on the new model; there is the occasional gem when the brokers have bought stock they can’t get rid of.

Get an Electric Vehicle with Zero Running Costs

Earlier in the article we compared the potential running costs of charging the Hyundai Ioniq with running a petrol or diesel car. However, it’s possible to charge an electric vehicle at no cost whatsoever.

Solar PV systems generate renewable electricity using solar energy which can not only be used to power appliances but also charge an electric vehicle. So solar panels can potentially reduce the running costs down to zero.

For free solar panel installation quotes from local installers, take a few moments to complete our simple online form. You’ll receive quotes from up to 3 fully-qualified installers which will give you the greatest chance of finding the most competitive price on the installation of a solar PV system for your property.


 
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