This might seem a bit obtuse, comparing cars from opposite ends of the spectrum. One, potentially the highest-tech car manufacturer we’ve yet seen, the other best known, in the UK at least, as a manufacturer of value-for-money, Skoda-competition. However as soon as I drove an Ioniq, I realised that Hyundai made a much better car than I had expected. While there is no shortage of plastic inside, the textures are nice, ergonomics excellent and the switches and touchscreen work really well. Only the plastic outside door handle trims feel a little sub-par. It turns out that the Ioniq electric is the most efficient car, bar none. The amount of standard equipment is staggering- even in the base UK model (Premium trim).
Tesla have made a name for themselves in a short period of time as the manufacturer of electric cars with staggering performance, and the Model 3 is no exception. Even their standard Model 3 is “very quick”, under 6 seconds 0-60mph. Far quicker than the Ioniq, which manages 0-60mph in just under 10 seconds. However a “Standard” base model of the Model 3 won’t be available in the UK, probably since Tesla need to keep profits healthy to stay afloat. The base model is a “Standard plus”, also there’s no long-range two wheel drive model. We were promised a $35k car, yet in the UK it’s a shade under £40k, because the “standard” became the “standard plus” with things like the glass roof. Add any options and the price climbs very fast. Lots of features you wouldn’t expect on a Hyundai are there, such as adaptive cruise, active lane keeping – which make some specs similar to the Tesla’s autopilot. Oh, and the Hyundai is a true hatchback, not a sedan.
The Model 3 and Ioniq look similar, whether this purely a result of good aero design or simply a carbon copy I’ll let you decide. The Ioniq is shorter, yet slightly bigger inside.
The real differences between Ioniq and Model 3 are the performance, range and Tesla’s Supercharger network, which is exclusive to Tesla. Speed of rapid charging is also a differentiator, but only matters on long trips, since the majority of most drivers charge at home or destinations such as at work. The UK still has a fragmented mish-mash of rapid chargers, the motorway network is still a joke for CCS charging. Thankfully we’ve just seen the first example of competition in the motorway charger scene, with Ionity installing 4 CCS chargers at a MSA where previously Ecotricity seemed to have a monopoly.
There are some subtle features that Hyundai have included which really help efficiency but are a bit obscure to non-EV drivers. The ability to change regen braking by paddles, including zero regen for coasting, is great. Like the Leaf, the Ioniq has brake blending, which combines regen and friction braking so well that the friction brakes are hardly ever used. On a Tesla, the brake pedal only ever controls the brakes, never adding regen. The Ioniq also has perhaps the most powerful regen braking setup of all EVs, 87kW, but that feature is only ever useful emergency braking from 60mph+.
I’m not claiming the Ioniq will ever have the cachet of a Tesla. But overall, unless you need the 200+ mile range and 0-60 in 6 seconds then the extra cash for the Tesla seems a lot of money to me. Especially since the 2020 Ioniq will get a useful range boost from a 39kWh pack.