Winner of the 2017 Professional Driver’s ‘Green Car of the Year’, the Hyundai IONIQ looks to capture the hearts—and the pocketbooks—of Australian electric car enthusiasts for years to come.
Just launched, the 2018 version will doubtlessly continue the excellence of last year’s model. Since the 2018 IONIQ isn’t scheduled to arrive in Australia until later in the year, this guide will focus for the most part, on the widely available 2017 version.
Sporty Looks, Safety Features, and Aerodynamics Make IONIQ a Family Favourite
Eco-conscious and budget-minded small families should consider this all-electric vehicle for its innovative use of recycled materials, excellent aerodynamics, safety features—and, of course, its tiny carbon footprint.
Although the 2018 model will arrive late to the party in Australia, its longer range (over 300 kilometres from a single charge) may drive some to wait it out until the newer models arrive.
That being said, the 2017 Hyundai IONIQ models are an impressive lot too. If you can do without the added range, it also checks off most of the ‘I wants’ that electric car fans demand. With instant torque that gives it zippy acceleration compared to most electrics, a streamlined design, and superb aerodynamics, it performs as good as it looks.
Paddle shifters on its steering column give the car regenerative braking in four levels. Loaded with safety features, pedestrian detection braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, and cross-traffic alerts from the rear, it meets all the requirements of safety-conscious mums and dads.
Its first-ever lifetime warranty on its EV battery pack gives value-minded buyers the confidence to plunk down their hard-earned dollars for one of these cars.
About the only downside of the Hyundai IONIQ, according to most reviewers, including YouTube’s popular Mat Watson, is that although it can seat five adults, those in the back seat had better be short. Taller adults, including Watson, find it difficult to sit normally without bumping their heads on the roof.
The 2017 Hyundai IONIQ at a Glance
|Vehicle Model||IONIQ Electric|
|Driving Range||Up to 200 kilometres|
|Charger||DC Fast: 80% in 33 mins at 50kW|
|Probable Retail Price||$50,000 AUD|
|Warranty (drivetrain)||10 years or 100,000 miles|
|Top Speed||165 kph|
|Acceleration||0 to 100 kph: 9.9 seconds|
Hyundai IONIQ Available Model Range
Part of a model range that also includes a hybrid, this mid-size energy saver is Hyundai’s all-electric answer to Toyota’s popular Prius hybrid. Commuters may favour the fully electric model, since its range limits it to shorter jaunts. For avid long-distance travellers, the hybrid might be a better choice since its electrical power regenerates itself when the car brakes or slows down.
The electric IONIQ comes in two trims, the entry level and the Elite. Even at the entry level, the car features lane keep assist, smart cruise control, and an eight-inch touchscreen with premium audio. In addition to the features available on the entry level, the IONIQ Elite offers smooth leather heated seating in both the front and rear.
The 2018 line also features a plug-in hybrid. With a quiet, comfortable interior (with the aforesaid exception for taller adults in the rear seats), it provides an enjoyable ride. In its Sport mode, it’s exceptionally responsive. Even in its energy-miser Eco mode, however, it still has adequate acceleration for highway use.
How Much Will I Have to Shell Out for a Hyundai IONIQ Electric?
If you can settle for the 2017 model, you’ll only need to pay $50,000 for a new car. Used cars are few and far between, which bodes well for resale value. People are keeping their IONIQs.
As for the 2018 model, we frankly don’t know what the price will be. Because of high demand, the factory is backed up with orders.
The 2018 IONIQ may not be available in Australia until at least the first quarter of the year has passed. It will probably follow its predecessors, though, and be well under the Prius’ price point.
Hyundai IONIQ Impresses Reviewers Worldwide
Car and Driver—the iconic bible of the US car industry—may relegate the IONIQ to an ‘unassuming’, ‘bargain-priced’ role, but we know better. As for us, however, we love a car that’s “proudly efficient in its use of electricity but keeps quiet about it’. Efficiency rules the road.
That’s not all. When the reviewers from Car and Driver got behind the wheel, they discovered that the IONIQ delivers a ‘better-than-expected ride and handling, bargain price’. The real bargain, though, with the IONIQ is that it makes the earth a better place to live.
That goes for its interior as well. Paint crafted from soybean oil, plastic surfaces that contain sugarcane, powdered wood, and volcanic stone all slash the carbon footprint of this—the greenest Hyundai ever.
Yes, the 2017 version doesn’t have the range of some of its competitors. Most of us don’t need that. Our commute isn’t measured in kilometres, but rather in litres. In that department, the IONIQ delivers in spades—it’s a veritable petrol miser.
Motoring.com.au—after it test-drove the car in its Korean birthplace before it arrived in Australia—gushed over the Hyundai IONIQ, saying it was “too good to be true.” Not only was it affordable, the online magazine pointed out, but it also was “attractive” and “spacious.”
Contrasted with the “pufferfish” look of its closest competitor, the Toyota Prius, the reviewer wrote, the IONIQ’s streamlined, sporty look gives the Hyundai the definitive edge when it comes to eye appeal. Instead of a grille, the designers incorporated the car’s logo into a smooth insert, giving the car an aerodynamic edge over its competitors.
Autocar.co.uk—the UK’s definitive voice when it comes to car reviews—praises the electric IONIQ for its quick acceleration time. The car’s torque—218 lb-feet of it—combined with no need for pauses to change gears, give the electric version the edge over the hybrid when drivers need to merge into traffic quickly.
That same torque, though, the Autocar reviewers caution, will “overwhelm the economy-biased tyres.” Fast acceleration on wet surfaces can cause spins without traction control. Drivers may want to equip their new IONIQs with better tyres to compensate.
The car’s “smooth power delivery” and its quiet ride, though, makes the Hyundai IONIQ a fabulous buy for commuters on the hunt for a car that can zip through traffic without upping their carbon footprint, according to the reviewers.
Stuff Motoring—the voice of Stuff.co.NZ when it comes to cars—took a test drive in the Elite version of the IONIQ over some of New Zealand’s most challenging terrain. Pushing the car’s range to its limits, the reviewer praised the car for its suitability as a family car, citing its comfortable, “incredibly quiet” ride and its five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.
He did, however, recommend that families who purchase the car opt for the wall charger, since it takes 16 to 18 hours for a full charge on a household socket. The wall charger, although pricey, charges the IONIQ EV in only five hours.
Tim Robson—a well-known Aussie motor journalist for CarsGuide—drove the IONIQ in its native Korea before it arrived here in Australia. His first impression? It has a “normal car” profile, both in its looks and in its drive. He praised the electric version of the car for its “non-electric car” feeling. With the exception of its having no gearshift and a few more buttons, he shared, it looked and drove the same as a more conventional petrol-powered car.
Robson praised both the hybrid and the electric versions of the car for their acceleration. On an urban commute, in which seconds count when pulling away from the stop light or “when you want to overtake,” the instant torque comes in handy, he said. With this vehicle, Robson declared, Hyundai could finally “steal some of the limelight” from Toyota’s perennial favourite, the Prius.
With all the buzz signalling a huge success for the Hyundai IONIQ’s Aussie debut, the only question among electric car enthusiasts is whether they should go for the 2017 version or
wait out the months until its younger sibling arrives. With that kind of reception, Australian Hyundai dealers will finally have a shot to eclipse their competitors at Toyota.
* Supplementary images courtesy of Hyundaipressoffice.co.uk