Hyundai Ioniq Electric long-term test review
Can owning an electric car be a viable option even if you can't charge it at home? We're finding out, with the help of the recently facelifted Hyundai Ioniq Electric...
The car Hyundai Ioniq Electric Premium SE Run by Darren Moss, deputy editor
Why it’s here To prove that electric motoring is now convenient enough to be an option for someone who can’t charge at home
Needs to Be practical and comfortable, have enough range for longer journeys, even in winter, and slash my running costs compared with a petrol or diesel car
Mileage 3817 List price £35,950 Target Price £34,891 Price as tested £35,605 Test range 168 miles Official range 193 miles Dealer price now £31,101 Private price now £27,645 Trade-in price now £26,582
27 June 2020 – Electric paradise, lost
Can you live with an electric car, even if you can’t charge it up at home? That’s the question I set out to answer at the start of my time with the Hyundai Ioniq Electric. I was excited to begin, too, not least because the reduction in running costs compared with the diesel-engined car I ran previously would be good for my bank account, but also because it meant I’d be contributing to a healthier planet. And the Ioniq Electric seemed like a good fit, with an official range of 193 miles and a bold new look brought about by its recent facelift.
To emphasise the point, when I say I cannot charge at home, I mean that in absolute terms. There would be no sneaky three-pin plug charging here because I live in a first-floor flat and dangling an extension cable out of the window would both be dangerous and ruinous to Mrs. Wilson’s view of her Petunias. So, I would instead rely on public charging points and the wall chargers we have available at What Car? headquarters.
In the early days, I very much enjoyed commuting in the Ioniq. The burst of instant acceleration you get from an electric car takes some getting used to, but before long you’ll be beating almost everything away from the traffic lights. And with its light steering, the Ioniq was a joy to weave in and out of city traffic. Add in suspension that coped well with the worst of London’s scarred and rutted streets, and I arrived at work relaxed, composed and ready to begin the day.
On longer trips, meanwhile, the Ioniq’s plethora of driver assistance kit came in handy, with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance helping to keep me moving with the ebb and flow of traffic.
When it came to range, the closest I could get to the Ioniq’s official figure was 172 miles, but over time and despite the weather turning warmer – something which usually ekes out a few extra miles in electric cars – I rarely saw more than 168 miles from a full charge. That was perfectly fine during the working week, but on longer weekend trips it was an issue.
For example, a round trip to my parents house in Northamptonshire is 196 miles long, which meant that if I was to visit for the day, as I like to do, I’d have to factor in a 45-minute stop at a local charging station in order to make it work. And as much as you expect these things in an electric car, it was still an annoyance I could do without. Especially when I rocked up at a charging point to find that either a) it wasn’t working, b) I hadn’t signed up to the right provider, c) there was a diesel-engined car already parked there, or d) all of the above.
Over time, then, my whirlwind romance with pure electric driving began to fade. I found myself constantly eyeing the Ioniq’s dwindling range, afraid to push pedal to metal because of the effect it might have on the battery, and gloomy in the knowledge of how many more miles I had left before needing to find a charging point.
The short answer to my initial question then, is yes, you can run an electric car even if you can’t charge it at home, but with a few caveats. First, it's wise to scope out your local public chargers before you need to use them, so that you know who is running them, how much you'll have to pay and the speed at which you can charge. And second, be prepared to add time on to longer journeys to take into account finding a charging point, figuring out how to use it and then actually charging the car.
For me, the issue of charging time was hard to stomach. So, although I want to continue using electric power, I also want to minimise any waiting around at service stations when I visit friends and family further afield. That's why my next car is a plug-in hybrid, which means that, in theory at least, I’ll have the best of both worlds.
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