Hyundai Ioniq electric review: The best EV in Singapore

Hyundai Ioniq electric review: The best EV in Singapore

Shock to the system

Text: Daryl Lee

The Hyundai Ioniq electric is quite possibly the best electric car you can buy in Singapore today, even edging out the Renault Zoe and the BMW i3 (which we love to bits).

It's a bold claim, to be sure, but whichever way you slice it, the Ioniq is a tough car to fault. The more obvious indicators of this are its good range (around 200km) between charges, blazing fast charge time (under half an hour from flat to full) and its impressively long list of top-drawer standard equipment.

But what its admittedly impressive spec sheet doesn't tell are its more intangible features, such as its build quality and its considered cabin layout, which is right up there with the premium segment competition.

Which is the first thing you'll notice upon stepping into the Ioniq, but the next thing would be...

It's specced up like a luxury car

Hyundai Ioniq interior

In addition to its generous list of equipment that comes as standard, you'll also notice the slightly janky smell of plastic, unlike the alluring 'new car smell' present in luxury cars. The smell of cheap plastic is something the Koreans haven't quite managed to get rid off.

Which is really puzzling to us, since Korean automakers (like Korean pop culture) is on the up-and-up, having made such great strides in design, quality and drivability in the past decade.

But anyway, if you can look (or more accurately, smell) past that point, you'll notice that the Ioniq is jam packed with features that wouldn't look out of place on a luxury limousine. Listing all of them out here will take awhile, but key highlights on the Ioniq include adaptive cruise control, ventilated seats (bum coolers, effectively) and a digital dashboard.

It drives like a luxury car too

Hyundai Ioniq driving

In all fairness, all electric cars tend to have limo-like levels of refinement. The lack of a vibrating engine with hundreds of moving parts, supplanted by a virtually solid-state electric motor does wonders for quietness and smoothness.

And as with the Renault Zoe we drove last week, flooring the throttle doesn't result in increased vibrations from the engine, but just increased speed. As is right and proper.

Suffice it to say, decreased noise from the engine means there's nothing to gloss over poor wind/road deadening, and here we're happy to report the Hyundai is pleasingly well insulated there.

Perhaps not too surprising, since the Ioniq employs enhanced sound deadening measures throughout its cabin and a sound-damping film in its windshield.

And crucially, the Ioniq is surprisingly free of creaks and rattles. No mean feat, considering how just two decades ago, Hyundai was a carmaker known for its cheapness, not quality.

It's a technical triumph

Hyundai Ioniq driving

On that note, if you told us 20 years ago that Hyundai would grow to become one of the world's five biggest carmakers, jockeying with Toyota and Volkswagen, we would have laughed at you. We'd have laughed even harder if you told us Hyundai would eventually make an electric car.

But here we are driving the Ioniq around, and the most amazing thing is, it's a really difficult car to fault. Its claimed 280km range is extremely healthy (in the real world, it's closer to 200km), charging it on DC power takes just half an hour (yes, we actually tested this) and well, it's just a pleasant car to live with in general.

You might be going, "but, isn't this a given".

And our answer to that is, "not really, no". Whether it's seats you can never really feel comfortable in, or door storage bins that are too narrow, or cup holders positioned in awkward places, there are innumerable ways in which a car can annoy you.

The Ioniq is largely free of that, save for the aforementioned smell of plastic/glue and how its integrated navigation system feels offensively cheap, with its slow-to-respond touchscreen and outdated graphics.

Hyundai Ioniq charging

Anyway, the Ioniq's thoughtful features. When charging the car, a series of three bars on top of its dashboard light up, indicating the battery's charge status. This means that information is now available at a glance, without having to unlock the car and check the state of charge through the instrument cluster.

And the Ioniq's wireless charging pad. Well, we say "pad", but it's more like an angled bin that you drop your phone into. The obvious upshot to this, unlike most other manufacturers, which tend to house it in a cubbyhole, is it allows for phones of almost any size to be accomodated.

Hyundai Ioniq wireless charging pad

Especially if you have one of those gargantuan phones like an Apple iPhone XS Max or a Samsung Galaxy Note 9, a lot of times those phones simply don't fit into regular charging trays.

Quick charging (emphasis on quick)

When we first took out the Ioniq, we were dismayed to find that it inexplicably had just 28 percent left in its 'tank'.

Bad news because we're busy people doing busy people things and don't have time to wait several hours for the batteries to recharge.

Good news because it would allow us to test the Ioniq's charging time under real-world conditions.

Even better news is Hyundai dealers Komoco Motors have a quick charging station on the premises that allows the car to be fully charged from flat in around half an hour.

Bad news is that's a special DC charger, and it's industrial grade, which means you won't be able to have one in your home.

Good news: Hyundai will throw in a wallbox charger with the Ioniq's $132,999 purchase price, which gets the car fully juiced up in 4-5 hours.

Hyundai Ioniq charging station

Bad news: Unless you live on private property or live in one of the 21 condominiums here with charging stations, you're out of luck.

Worse news for HDB-dwellers, because you'll likely have to use one of the 12 Greenlots public charging stations, located mostly at shopping malls/office complexes in and around the city centre. And you'll have to pay for ERP and parking charges for the privilege of charging up your Ioniq too, don't forget.

On the bright side, SP Group is planning to build 30 public charging points (including several equipped with DC chargers) by the end of this year, with another 470 or so to follow by 2020.

But the best news is how cheaply the Ioniq can be gassed up. Going by current electricity tariffs, a full charge will cost just under $6.

But is the Ioniq ready for primetime?

Hyundai Ioniq static

If you asked us, we'd have to say yes. Good range, a roomy rear bench and a 455 litre boot, which would certainly not give anyone cause for complaint.

Yes, there admittedly aren't a lot of public charging stations about, but that's also a factor of how (as of 30 September 2018), there are just 443 pure electric cars plying our streets, out of a total population of 614,292.

The more cynical in the audience might say that those charging stations are bound to be white elephants, but if history has proven anything with electric cars, widespread adoption will only happen if there's the infrastructure around to support them.

In short, no charging stations means no electric cars.

And since there are more arriving in the very near future, we'd go so far as to bet the electric tide is upon us.