ZEN ART OF EMIT­TING ZERO

The Northern Star - - MOTORING -

mo­tor­ing jus­ti­fies — to tech lovers and tree hug­gers at least — the price premium. Hyundai’s reg­u­lar five-year war­ranty and an­nual ser­vice bills of only $160 add to the ap­peal.

Our next cheapest EV is the tiny odd­ball Re­nault Zoe at $47,490, and the Ioniq Elec­tric looks a give-away when con­sid­ered along­side the EV poster boy Tesla Model S, start­ing from $146,512 drive-away.

Those not ready to dive into the elec­tric deep end can opt for other Ioniqs with petrol en­gine safety nets. Hy­brid and Plug-in ver­sions each use 1.6-litre four-cylin­ders backed by elec­tric mo­tors, for com­bined out­puts of 104kW/265Nm.

The Hy­brid’s small bat­tery, charged only through re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing, helps the car re­turn an im­pres­sive 3.4L/100km. The Plug-in has larger bat­tery ca­pac­ity, en­abling some 63km of pure elec­tric driv­ing — enough to cover most Aus­tralian com­mutes. For­got to plug it in? The petrol mo­tor’s got your back.

Hyundai Ioniq prod­uct plan­ner Scott Yoon says the model’s brief was to have “at­trac­tive styling, be a nor­mal look­ing car, have com­pet­i­tive fuel ef­fi­ciency, en­gag­ing driv­ing and ad­vanced, smart tech­nol­ogy”. In other words, an an­ti­dote to the chal­leng­ing de­sign of its Toy­ota Prius ri­val.

All Ioniqs are well equipped with com­pre­hen­sive ac­tive safety, radar cruise con­trol, rear cam­era, eight-inch touch­screen, sat­nav, Ap­ple CarPlay/An­droid Auto, smart en­try and start, cli­mate con­trol and al­loy wheels.

Drop an­other $4000-$5000 and Premium ver­sions of each bring larger al­loys, leather heated and ven­ti­lated power seats, power sun­roof, pad­dle-shifters, bi-xenon head­lights and wire­less phone charg­ing.

The Ioniq Hy­brid and Plug-in are the safe bets with their con­ven­tional ra­di­a­tor grilles and six-speed dou­ble-clutch au­tos. Hyundai says early in­ter­est is weighted firmly to­wards the full elec­tric camp — and the Ioniq Elec­tric, with its grille-free nose treat­ment in matt grey or gloss black, would be a smart choice.

The Ioniq Plug-in costs $40,990 in Elite trim or $45,490 in Premium grade, mir­ror­ing the price of Mit­subishi’s Out­lander PHEV, the in­vogue size plug-in SUV.

A com­mer­cial 100kW DC fast-charg­ing sta­tion tops up the Elec­tric’s 28kWh Lithi­u­mion poly­mer bat­tery to 80 per cent ca­pac­ity in 23 min­utes. Fit a 7kW AC per­sonal charg­ing sta­tion in your garage ($1995 in­stalled) and do the job in four hours 25 min­utes. A do­mes­tic 240V AC socket does it in 12 hours.

Pad­dles be­hind the steer­ing wheel ad­just how much re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing you want. It’s a clever set-up and sim­ply lift­ing off the ac­cel­er­a­tor nearly brings you to a stop in city traf­fic and ar­rests speed sweetly down hills while adding juice to the bat­ter­ies.

You need to change your driv­ing style but it be­comes sec­ond na­ture after a few jour­neys.

VER­DICT

Let’s not pre­tend the Ioniq Elec­tric is a cheap small car. It isn’t. But it’s com­pelling — spa­cious, com­fort­able, fun to drive and in the realms of af­ford­abil­ity. Its great­est tal­ent is mak­ing zero emis­sions EV driv­ing feel per­fectly nor­mal.

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