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First Drive: Hyundai Ioniq Electric

A larger battery is the tip of the iceberg in a host of updates to the compelling Ioniq Electric package, finds Jonathan Musk.

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SECTOR C-segment   PRICE £29,450 (inc. PICG)   RANGE 194 miles (WLTP)   CO2 0g/km

With more than 60,000 sales across Europe since its market launch in 2016, the Ioniq has become an electric pioneer for Hyundai. Moving with the times, Hyundai has made some sensible updates to keep the car in the running against rivals Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf. This includes a 30% larger battery, up from 28kWh to 38.3kWh, as well as a more powerful 134hp motor and plenty of connectivity upgrades as standard.

Other changes are subtler, such as a revised front nose with active aero grille, LED front and rear lights, and inside a neat new dashboard design.

What hasn’t changed is the price, which can only mean more value for money for fleets.

First up, the battery. Increasing the capacity is all well and good, but there’s a risk it’ll upset the car’s balance, weight and performance; both in terms of charging times and vehicle speed. Fortunately, Hyundai has managed to keep things in check, in part thanks to the car’s uprated motor. It doesn’t feel quite as sporty as the older lighter car, but the trio of driving modes, Normal, Sport and Economy (and Eco+ for extra range at the expense of climate control and top speed) offer dramatic driving dynamic differences. Sport mode increases throttle response and genuinely makes the car feel edgy and alive, while the Eco modes offer a few extra miles of range when needed, while Normal is as the name suggests.

Happily, the Ioniq still offers one of the better electric driving experiences in the market, with a much more refined set-up than the Nissan Leaf and a more efficient use of power than the e-Golf.

Inside, the redesigned dashboard introduces a new 10.25-inch touchscreen that controls the sat nav and infotainment options, of which there are too many to list. In addition, Hyundai’s latest natural voice commands ensure navigation is literally as easy as saying where you want to go. This is accentuated by Hyundai’s Bluelink technology, which uses an in-built 4G sim card allowing certain functions to be remote controlled via an Android/Apple smartphone app, for example vehicle pre-heating or cooling or checking the state of charge. The system’s live-status enables drivers to see charge point availability, traffic and even parking spaces where possible. Although not likely to worry fleets, Bluelink is free for the first five years with pricing thereafter TBC.

There are just two trim choices to choose from, Premium or Premium SE. For £2,000 more, the latter Premium SE adds chrome details, leather trim with heated and cooled front seats, and privacy glass. It also adds blind spot detection, lane follow assist and rear cross traffic alerts to the standard AEB, eCall and driver attention alert.

Overall, it’s a technology list to be reckoned with and the competition pales in comparison, with each of the systems simple to operate and easy to live with.

Although the car’s sub-40kWh battery might at first seem paltry when there are cars on the market with larger packs, what impresses most is the way in which the car is able to eke the most from its capacity to offer a range not dissimilar to larger EVs, such as the 95kWh Audi e-tron. And whatever the case, it’s only-just sub 200-mile range should prove more than adequate for the vast majority of drivers.

That smaller battery should also ensure less time spent charging, with a 7kW home or workplace charger easily filling it during either the working day or overnight, with 0-100% taking just over 6 hours. Step beyond range and rapid charging takes 57 minutes at 50kW to charge from 0-80%.

The Verdict
There’s no question that the Ioniq’s updates bring the car right up to speed with, and in some cases beyond, the competition. For fleets, the pricing should make it more attractive than larger battery cars while its efficiency means it still offers impressive range. To top it off, it comes fully loaded as standard too.

The Lowdown
KEY FLEET MODEL: Ioniq Electric Premium
STRENGTHS: Efficient range, fully loaded equipment
WEAKNESSES: A little dull to drive despite power increase

Star Rating
4.5 out of 5

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Jonathan Musk

Jonathan turned to motoring journalism in 2013 having founded, edited and produced Autovolt - one of the UK's leading electric car publications. He has also written and produced books on both Ferrari and Hispano-Suiza, while working as an international graphic designer for the past 15 years. As the automotive industry moves towards electrification, Jonathan brings a near-unrivalled knowledge of EVs and hybrids to Fleet World Group.