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ELECTRIC CARS

Hyundai Ioniq Electric review: An affordable EV that's a blast to drive

Hyundai's Ioniq Electric brings early-adopter technology with practicality.

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Singapore

OWNING an electric vehicle (EV) in Singapore is like owning your own solar array. While there are solid financial advantages, it's a discretionary purchase only for dedicated "Greenies" with deep pockets.

The least expensive Tesla, the P 85 D, costs S$426,800 with COE (or a S$5,388 monthly on lease). BMW's trailblazing i3, the first EV for public sale in Singapore with usable, real-life range, is more palatable in price, but even then it costs S$184,888 with COE.

Neither car is what you'd call mainstream.

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Hyundai's Ioniq Electric changes all that with its price tag. At S$139,888 with COE (or S$145,888 for the sunroof version, tested here) it's the first EV to tread anywhere near mass affordability.

The Renault Zoe, launched earlier this week at S$139,999 (with COE), sits in similar pricing territory, but it's a smaller, less powerful car that looks overpriced next to the Hyundai.

There's actually a family of Ioniq models, and the Electric is the latest addition. The Ioniq Hybrid was the first here with its 2016 debut, but its petrol-electric drivetrain looks downright conventional these days.

Unlike its sibling, and like all EVs, the Ioniq Electric is powered solely by its on-board battery.

Naturally both cars are very similar on the inside. Like most modern Hyundais, they don't feel built to a cost, with impressive material quality, and proper design flourishes.

For instance, the Electric has additional interior space and a more futuristic console layout, made possible by room freed up by the lack of a conventional gearbox.

A gearshifter is replaced by a set of buttons with a classy satin chrome finish. Press 'D' and the car begins to glide off in near silence.

An utter lack of sound is one of the virtues of electric propulsion, but the Ioniq emits a faint, flying saucer-like hum. Hyundai calls this the Virtual Engine Sound System, and it not only alerts other road users to your presence, but bolsters the impression that you're piloting something quite ahead of the curve as well.

Like most modern EVs, the car's a blast to drive. With the mass of the battery pack carried low, and no engine, fuel tank or gearbox, the car delivers handling and ride better than that of its hybrid sibling.

The zippy handling and the instant, punchy torque of the electric motor combine to ensure that the Ioniq Electric delivers plenty of smiles from behind the wheel.

But the most important thing is that range anxiety isn't an issue. Hyundai quotes 243km on a full charge, but it does even better than that in real life.

We began our test drive with 230km of indicated range, and after 150km of mixed Singaporean road conditions including highway, town driving and traffic, still had 100km left in the 'tank'.

Charging takes 4.5 hours with the wallbox charger, included in the purchase price. At the prevailing Energy Market Authority tariff of S$0.02215 per kilowatt hour, that means it costs approximately S$6.20 for a full charge - far cheaper per kilometre than for a petrol car.

Of course the elephant in the room is the lack of public charging stations. Ioniq Electric owners currently can charge using Greenlots charging stations with Type II chargers - there are only four in Singapore, although Hyundai's Alexandra Road showroom has an additional station open to owners.

To be able to live with the Ioniq, you'll need somewhere private to charge it, meaning a house or perhaps a condo or an office with a suitably forward-thinking management committee.

But with inescapable issues like global warming and air pollution in our future, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric offers solid driving proof of an alternative future that is destined to become mainstream.


HYUNDAI IONIQ ELECTRIC (SUNROOF)

Electric Motor 120hp, 295Nm
Battery Lithium ion, 28kWh
Range 243km
Charge Time 4.5 Hours
0-100km/h 9.9 seconds
Top Speed 165km/h
Efficiency 11.5 kWh/100km
VES Band A1
Agent Komoco Motors
Price S$144,999 with COE