by John Tallodi
The Ioniq Electric is part of Hyundai's eco-conscious range of compact vehicles and it offers a plug-in electric drivetrain that promises very competitive economy figures and a range that makes it ideal for the daily commute.
The Ioniq Electric is a four-door sedan with a hatchback styled rear and is all new for 2017, it is currently only available in the state of California.
The interior offers a decent level of material quality and the overall fit and finish is well up to the class average too. The seats should be comfortable enough for most although rear head room (and legroom if a tall front occupant pushes their seat all the way back) make the second row.
Thanks to its larger battery the trunk capacity is a bit less than in the hybrid Ioniq models, but whereas the other variants feature an independent rear suspension, the Ioniq Electric utilizes a torsion beam suspension setup to minimize the space lost. A split-folding rear seat and wide hatchback opening make for easy loading of bulky objects.
The driving experience does not offer much in the way of excitement but there are no issues with the way the Ioniq Electric steers, brakes and rides. There is the usual regenerative braking feel that is common to electric vehicles, otherwise the experience is similar to any small sized gasoline powered car. The ultimate handling and grip levels may be influenced by that revised rear suspension but the ride quality is good and that is what most shoppers will be interested in.
The strong power delivery at low speeds makes it very nippy in the cut and thrust of city driving and there is enough power in reserve at highway speeds too.
The Ioniq features an electric motor producing 118 horsepower and 215 lb-ft of torque, the 28-kWh battery pack is smaller than that found in the competition but the range is still competitive at a claimed 124 miles. A single-speed direct drive transmission powers the front wheels and while the 0-60 mph time is middling at around the mid-8-second range, in-gear acceleration, a more relevant arbiter of real-world performance is extremely strong.
Claimed consumption figures are 136/150 MPGe in combined city/highway driving which is in line with existing competitors but may not be enough to compete with the new batch of electric vehicles on the horizon. The charging time using a 240-volt power source takes around four and a half hours.
The Ioniq Electric is offered in two trim levels, the base trim is very sparsely equipped and offers a premium cloth interior, 6-way manually adjustable driver's seat with heating for both front seats, 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility and dual-zone climate control.
You may want to pony up for the Limited Trim which adds dual power-folding side mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, LED headlights, rear HVAC vents, 10-way power driver's seat with memory function and leather interior. Blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist are also standard fitment.
An Ultimate Package reserved for the Limited Trim adds a power sunroof, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, dynamic HID headlights, 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, 8-speaker premium audio system, wireless device charging and LED interior illumination.
Possibly the most intriguing option for the Ioniq is the Unlimited + subscription plan. This is a 36-month lease deal which varies in cost depending on the trim selected. What you get is an unlimited mileage maintenance plan and your electricity charging costs reimbursed by Hyundai for the first 50,000 miles. This may well be the incentive to lure customers away from competitors' offerings.
The Ioniq may not bring any revolutionary new technologies to the table and while some competitors may offer a more engaging driving experience, the Ioniq Unlimited + Subscription Program may still make it a very viable option for qualifying customers, although for now they will have to be based in California.
A range of trim levels and a viceless driving experience also play in its favor and if you choose not to lease, pricing levels once rebates and incentives are taken into account are competitive too.