Apart from another opportunity to make poor Alanis Morissette-based jokes, this is our chance to drive the all-electric version of the Hyundai Ioniq on UK roads.
If that name looks familiar, that’s because we’ve already sampled the hybrid version. With a plug-in hybrid to follow, the Ioniq is a key part of Hyundai’s plan to have 22 ‘green’ cars in its range by 2020.
Underneath all three versions is the same platform that underpins the Kia Niro. There’s plenty of high-strength steel to help rigidity, along with aluminium panels and other componentry to reduce weight.
Unlike the Niro and the two hybrid Ioniqs, the all-electric version does without independent multi-link rear suspension, despite costing nearly £29,000 before any government grant. There is good reason for the fitment of a torsion beam rear axle, though. As it’s more compact, Hyundai has been able to shoehorn in a larger battery pack without sacrificing too much boot space.
Indeed, the lithium ion cells have enough juice to give the Ioniq a maximum potential range of 174 miles. Like official fuel economy figures, we’d take that number with a pinch of salt. Even so, you’re still left with enough range to make all but the longest commute viable. The question is whether you’d want to spend an hour or two every day in one.
As for the hybrid models, the electric motor is paired to a 1.6-litre petrol engine which together produces 138bhp and 195lb ft of peak twist.
With 118bhp, the Electric may be the least powerful Ioniq, but it is, nevertheless, the fastest. A substantial 218Ib ft of torque from rest and no pauses to change gear result in a 0-62mph time that just squeaks under 10 seconds. At urban speeds, the Ioniq feels even quicker than that. To put it in context the hybrid models can only muster a 0-62mph time of 10.8sec.
That instant torque can overwhelm the economy-biased tyres, though. In the wet, the traction control has to cut in hard if you try to accelerate quickly. Turn it off and the Ioniq will spin its front wheels all the way up to 35mph.
Not that performance is really a selling point of the Ioniq, more a handy by-product of the electric powertrain. More important is the smooth power delivery and complete absence of vibration from under the bonnet. Like other electric cars, it proves far more serene than a diesel or even petrol engine.
The motor may be quiet, but it does highlight other noises. Plenty of road roar is transmitted through the floor and there’s noticeable wind noise at speed. It’s not deafening, but it’s worth knowing if you expect an electric car to be virtually silent.
It may be happy enough to build speed, but the brakes take some getting used to. Initial response is very sharp, but it feels like you need to push the pedal a long way further to get any meaningful stopping power.
You can alter how much the car decelerates when you lift off by using what look like gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel. The Ioniq starts with fairly weak regenerative braking initially, but this can be ramped up to slow the car faster and increase the amount of energy that goes back into the battery pack.
Although this does improve range and allows you to avoid pressing the brake the majority of the time, the regenerative braking is much more sudden than in a Nissan Leaf, for instance. We soon turned it back down again to make smoother progress.
Hyundai suggests that the Ioniq Electric should offer decent driving dynamics. The truth is that while it isn’t bad, it’s not going to set pulses racing. The steering has reasonable weight to it, but it’s vague around the straight-ahead and never communicates what the front wheels are doing.
There’s not a great deal of body roll, but it doesn’t take much to get the nose of the Ioniq running wide; blame the low-resistance tyres for that. Pitch the car into a corner harder and you can tell the weight balance of the car is more even than that of a front-engined, front wheel-drive hatch, though.
Even so, this is a car that’s much happier being driven well within its limits. That might not be good for enthusiastic driving, but it’ll certainly help eke out the most range possible from the battery pack. With this in mind, we would have liked more compliance from the suspension at urban speeds. It’s not uncomfortable, but it is on the firm side when dealing with crumbling blacktop. Things do settle down at motorway speeds, though.
Inside, the dashboard looks almost identical to the one you find in the Hyundai Tucson. Up front, you get plenty of soft-touch materials on the upper portion of the dash and doors, with harder materials underneath. Everything is nicely textured and the controls work with precision. As for the rear, it’s roomy enough for six-footers and the boot is competitive in size, if shallow.
There’s plenty of storage at the base of the centre stack, a good-sized glovebox and a wireless charging slot for your mobile phone. There is no gear selector lever, just buttons to select Park, Neutral, Drive or Reverse.
Should you forget what you’re in, Ioniq Electrics get copper trim that looks nice enough and is a pleasant change from piano black. You also get a responsive 8.0in colour touchscreen infotainment system that proves responsive and easy to use. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is another nice touch.
As for trim levels, there are three to choose from for hybrid models and two for the pure electric versions.
Fancy an Ioniq Hybrid and opt for the entry-level SE model expect to find 15in alloys, cloth seats, dual-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, electric windows, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, lane departure warning system and autonomous emergency braking system as standard.
Upgrade to Premium and you’ll find heated front seats and steering wheel, bi-xenon headlights, electrically folding door mirrors and keyless entry, while the range-topping Premium SE models gain alloy pedals, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a leather upholstery, automatic lights and wipers, all-round parking sensors and blind spot detection systems.
The electric models are only available in Premium and Premium SE trim, with 16in alloy wheels, heated steering wheel and front seats, climate control, automatic lights and wipers, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, electric windows, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera.
The range-topping Premium SE models get all-round parking sensors, a leather upholstery and heated rear seats thrown into the package.
Even factoring in the £4500 government grant that you’ll get when buying an Ioniq Electric, you still really have to want a battery-powered car to choose it. An internal combustion engine rival will still be cheaper to buy and in many cases better to drive, while the Ioniq Hybrid may be the perfect compromise.
It’s impossible to ignore the advantages of electric power, though. There’s no doubting the tax savings (especially for business users) and it’ll be much cheaper to fuel and service. Factor in the Ioniq's competitive range and we’d say it’s well worth considering against rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.