New Hyundai Ioniq 5 vs Tesla Model 3 vs Volkswagen ID.4

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?...

New Hyundai Ioniq 5 vs Tesla Model 3 vs Volkswagen ID.4 fronts

The contender

NEW Hyundai Ioniq 5 73kWh RWD Premium

List price £41,945
Target Price £41,945

Hyundai moves into a new era of electric cars with this large hatchback, which promises an official range of close to 300 miles in the form tested here, plus super-fast charging


Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus

List price £40,990
Target Price £40,990

Our favourite large electric car is the one to beat for around £40,000 when it comes to performance and technology, although this entry-level model has the shortest official range


Volkswagen ID.4 77kWh Pro Performance Life

List price £42,040
Target Price £40,987

As a large SUV, the ID.4 should have practicality and a high seating position in its favour. It also promises the longest range of our contenders, at up to 324 miles


Ioniq 5. If you’re thinking that sounds like an Elon Musk invention – the fifth space rocket to come out of his SpaceX programme, perhaps – it isn’t. It’s a Hyundai.

But there is a tie-in to Mr Musk here, because it is an all-new large electric vehicle (EV) that sits squarely in the same territory as the Tesla Model 3. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is recognisably a hatchback but, at the same time, it’s one of the most futuristic-looking hatchbacks we’ve ever seen. It comes with two battery choices, and here we’re testing the bigger one – 73kWh – and mid-range Premium trim.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 2021 rear

With its near-price parity, the Model 3 is an obvious rival. This low-slung executive saloon is also our standard-bearer for the class and, in the Standard Range Plus guise we have in this test, the cheapest Tesla on sale. That still buys you access to the best charging network on the planet and the futuristic tech with which Tesla is synonymous. It has the smallest battery here, but we know the Model 3 is an extremely efficient consumer of electricity.

Lastly, we have the Volkswagen ID.4. Does the fact that it’s shaped like a conventional large SUV make it a friendlier route into EV ownership? Possibly, if you still have one foot in the petrol or diesel pond. We’re testing it with the larger of the two batteries available (with a 77kWh usable capacity), but, as with the Model 3, you have to opt for entry-level trim to match the Ioniq 5’s price.

Tesla Model 3 2021 rear

So, here’s the question: you have £40,000 to spend on a new EV, but should you choose the hatchback, executive saloon or SUV?


Driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

If you know anything about Tesla, you probably know its cars are fast. Ludicrously fast. This one is actually the least rapid in the company’s line-up but, thanks to a 329bhp motor driving the rear wheels, can still hit 60mph from a standstill in a suitably quick 5.3sec.

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 rear

Its rivals have rear-wheel drive too, but neither packs as much punch. The Ioniq 5 has 214bhp and the ID.4 201bhp – and both are quite a bit heavier than the Model 3. The result is a 0-60mph time of 6.9sec for the Ioniq and 7.8sec for the ID.4. In reality, though, both feel more than quick enough for any type of driving.

Of course, when it comes to EVs, performance isn’t just about how quickly you can speed up; how far you can travel between charges is arguably more important. The official figures suggest the ID.4 is the Duracell bunny of the group with a range of 316 miles, with the optional 20in wheels fitted to our test car, or 324 miles if you stick with the standard 19in rims. Meanwhile, the Ioniq 5 can officially do 298 miles and the Model 3 278 miles on their standard 19in and 18in wheels respectively, as tested.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 2021 front pan

These figures should be taken with a pinch of salt, though. In our tests, conducted on a private test track designed to simulate real roads, the Model 3 proved most efficient, averaging 4.2 miles on every kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity. The Ioniq 5 managed 3.4 miles per kWh and the ID.4 just 3.0 miles. The Model 3 does have a relatively small battery, though, so its theoretical maximum range in 22deg C conditions works out to 214 miles. The ID.4 should manage 231 miles and the Ioniq 5 a very respectable 247 miles.

The Ioniq 5 is the one to choose if you value a soft, supple ride, too. It lopes along while smothering most bumps really well, although it can get rather bouncy and floaty along fast, undulating roads.

Tesla Model 3 2021 front pan

The ID.4 is far from fractious, but you’re jostled around more at all speeds – the optional 20in wheels probably not helping matters. It’s still a smoother choice than the Model 3, though; the latter’s relatively firm suspension means you feel sharper hits over potholes and speed bumps and are shimmied around a bit over smaller imperfections.

That firmness, and the fact that it’s lower than its rivals, gives the Model 3 a clear edge through corners, though. It leans far less, grips much harder and generally feels more agile and eager to turn in to bends. Some will find the ultra-quick steering hard to get used to, but it’s certainly very precise. Just be aware that while the Model 3 handles very well, it isn’t in the same league as a BMW 3 Series for driver involvement.

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 front pan

Mind you, the ID.4 has the most natural-feeling steering of all three cars and corners more than tidily enough for a family-focused SUV. By comparison, the Ioniq 5 feels rather woolly when you’re out of the city limits; its nose doesn’t respond all that quickly to steering inputs and when the car does finally agree to change direction, there’s plenty of body lean. It’s the only one of our trio that can be a little unnerving to drive quickly along a winding country road.

On the plus side, it’s easily the quietest on the move. You don’t hear much wind noise and there’s far less tyre roar than in the other two at 70mph. Only some clonks from the suspension along bumpy urban roads spoil the peace. There’s noticeably more wind noise in the ID.4 at a steady motorway cruise, but the Model 3 is noisier still, suffering from the most wind noise and kicking up the most tyre roar.


Next: What are they like inside? >>

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