New Hyundai Ioniq 5 vs Tesla Model 3 vs Volkswagen ID 4: interiors

With the radical Ioniq 5, Hyundai is looking to carve its first slice of the large electric car market. But can it get the better of models from Tesla and Volkswagen?...

Hyundai Ioniq 5 2021 dashboard

Behind the wheel

Driving position, visibility, build quality

Concentrating solely on seat comfort and the relationship between the seat, steering wheel and pedals, the Volkswagen ID 4 has the best driving position of our trio. Everything is well placed and, along with the Tesla Model 3, it has more steering wheel extension than the Hyundai Ioniq 5. If you’re tall, this allows you to pull the steering wheel nearer to you.

The ID 4 also has the most supportive driver’s seat, even though it doesn’t have lumbar adjustment – something the others come with as standard. The Ioniq 5 and Model 3 have electrically operated driver’s seats (the ID 4’s moves manually), but their basic seat support, especially at the sides if you’re whizzing around corners, is slightly lacking.

Another good thing about the ID 4 is the instrument pod. It’s small, allowing you to see the whole screen through the steering wheel rim. It’s also mounted on the steering column rather than the dashboard, so you can see the information it displays wherever the steering wheel is positioned.

Tesla Model 3 2021 dashboard

The Ioniq 5 has a much larger digital instrument panel and the vital stats – range and speed, for instance – are out towards the edges. Unfortunately, that means they’re obscured by the steering wheel if it’s dropped near to your knees. There’s no danger of that in the Model 3; its screen is in the middle of the dashboard (the instruments are squeezed into the right-hand edge of the infotainment screen), but that’s not great, either.

The problem with the ID 4’s driving environment is that the rest of the controls are awful. Nearly all of the buttons are touch-sensitive pads, including those on the steering wheel, and trying to find any of them while driving means more time gawping at switches and less on the road. And the touch-operated sliders for adjusting the temperature aren’t even backlit, so you have no chance of seeing them at night.

The Ioniq 5 also has some touch-sensitive buttons, but at least they’re clearer and backlit, and the proper physical buttons on the steering wheel are easy to use. The Model 3’s controls are all on the infotainment screen, which isn’t ideal, but again you can see them easily, day or night. You get a couple of physical dials on the steering wheel that operate multiple things, depending on what setting you’re in. For example, you use them to adjust the electric steering column and door mirrors – a process that’s completely unintuitive.

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 dashboard

Forward visibility is poorest in the Model 3, because its windscreen pillars are relatively thick. The ID 4 isn’t much better, so both cars demand extra care at junctions. There are no such issues in the Ioniq 5; its low dashboard and narrow pillars offer a great view out.

None of the cars has an unobstructed view behind – the Ioniq 5 and Model 3 are better than the ID 4 – but at least they all come with a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors. They have bright LED headlights to boost night vision, too.

Following a facelift last year, the Model 3 is better than it used to be in terms of interior quality. It’s still not as classy as the BMW 3 Series, but the mix of materials and fit and finish are the best here. The ID 4 is solidly made with a few soft-touch upper surfaces, but midway down the plastics cheapen in look and feel. There’s none of that in the Ioniq 5, because, fundamentally, all of its interior materials feel cheap. They’re textured nicely, so they look okay, but they’re mostly unforgiving plastics. And a few bits (such as the centre console) even wobble, which isn’t great considering the £40,000-plus price tag.

Infotainment systems

Hyundai Ioniq 5

Hyundai Ioniq 5 2021 touchscreen

The Ioniq’s 12.3in touchscreen is supported by a few physical buttons that swap between the major menus, plus a programmable button that’ll take you instantly to your most used screen – a plus for usability. Otherwise, the screen and graphics are good and the software is mostly slick; it can be glitchy (Apple CarPlay repeatedly dropped out in our tests), but not like the ID 4’s. The stereo sounds the best, despite having so few speakers, with a warm and mellow sound.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3 2021 touchscreen

The Model 3’s 15.0in screen is bright and sharp, and the software is by far the slickest of the cars here. The only issue is that, with so much controlled from the screen, some of the icons are rather small; that’s fine for the passenger but fiddly if you’re the driver. It has the most features, including Netflix streaming and video games, plus Google Maps with live traffic updates, but there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone connectivity

Volkswagen ID.4

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 touchscreen

The ID 4’s system has the smallest screen of the three, but that really is the least of its problems. For starters, the software is sluggish; it takes time to boot up when you switch on and chugs when you swipe or press an icon. The menus are pretty awful, too; because features are dumped all over the place, you have to learn where things are, making it far from intuitive to use when you’re on the move. Oh, and it crashes a lot. Overall, it’s a terrible system.

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