SIt is at the pace of progress in the development of the electric car that it makes sense to buy the latest model available. Whereas with fossil fuel cars you can buy a model that is a few years old and be sure that it is still reasonably up to date, compared to its peers, an electric car model that is even a few years old is hopelessly outclassed. . It will perform perfectly fine, but will have a frustrating range, take longer to charge, and perform inferior to newer products.
It is therefore not very useful, at this stage of the cycle, to buy a used car or even a new car whose design is a little dated. What this means for the government’s laudable desire to get us all into electric vehicles as soon as possible is painfully obvious: it is going to be beyond the means of most motorists. Maybe we’ll be lucky to get away with driving smaller (i.e. cheaper) electric models, which would also be good for urban streets and hopelessly overcrowded country roads trying to dealing with the bloated SUV boom, but to many that may seem like too much sacrifice.
The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 eloquently, albeit quietly, takes stock of the wonderful potential of going electric, but also the biggest hurdle – cost. The new Ioniq is much faster (a few seconds faster at 60 mph), larger, about a fifth more efficient, offers a much greater range (230 miles vs. 155 miles), and much more sophisticated and stylish than the model than it replaces, which launched only in 2019. Then again, that’s about a fifth more to buy – at over Â£ 40,000.
It’s the nicest electric car on the road, perfect in almost every way. It’s kind of like the designers used origami to create all the exaggerated creases and lines, which look like they’ve been ironed and sharp enough to shave your fingertips. It’s a basically traditional shape, like an old VW Golf, but with a decidedly modern treatment.
In a way, it’s easier to create a plunging coupe like a Porsche Taycan or Tesla Model 3, or even Ioniq’s Hyundai group brother, the Kia EV6, if you don’t have to wonder where. put a buggy or get a grandma in the back. Creating something so amazing and practical is a rare achievement. It’s a better package than its closest rivals, the Volkswagen ID.4 (admittedly with a superior interior) or the Ford Mustang Mach-E (marginally better driving). Among other things, this latest Hyundai proves the remarkable steps forward the Korean auto industry has made – nearly enough of the world leaders in battery-electric cars now.
The details are sumptuous: raised white lettering for the badges, blocky LED headlights and indicators that resemble Rubik’s cubes, truly spectacular alloy wheels reminiscent of a comet rolling down the road, full-width screens on the dashboard. This makes it a catchy, ambitious and envious car, but in a nice way. You smile just to see such a combination of craftsmanship and technology. More prosaically, this is a five-door hatch with SUV accents, large enough for a family, easy to drive and park, with cutting edge connectivity, and capable of dealing with the fastest public load of last stations, managed by Gridserve, once you locate one.
As you can see, it’s hard to find fault with the Ioniq 5. It’s quiet, the ride is smooth, and the steering is very light, so it might not be what you would call a driver’s car, but it exudes serenity and encourages a reserved, calm driving style. There’s a little electric whine if you really put your foot down, but it’s still dialed. The touchscreen graphics are clearer and safer to use than most, with the usual safe option of buttons on the steering wheel available. I especially liked the way a real-time view of the sidewalls of your car appears in the dashboard when you turn or near a curb, to better protect cyclists. There’s even a three-prong household outlet on the back, so you can run a fridge or sound system I guess. Of course, you can also plug your Hyundai into the mains, if you insist, in an emergency.
Your main problem with an Ioniq 5 will be getting your hands on one, due to the shortage of computer chips and what I expect will be a bit of speed going green. I cannot guarantee the reliability of all the sophisticated kits in service yet, such as the electric parking brake, exterior cameras and engine management software.
Overall, as I said, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 – a battery-only model, no hybrids – marks a significant technological breakthrough, and one that owes a lot to capitalism, as Boris Johnson would add, but halfway. less than the national average annual salary, it’s hard to see how electric cars will appeal to buyers, even if they can take advantage of leasing or PCP deals (around Â£ 500 per month in this case). I would generally recommend waiting a bit to buy a used one, but by then even this model will be outdated.
It will be difficult for drivers to keep up – in every way – with the new generation battery-electric vehicles. The electric car is in many ways a much better proposition than an equivalent petrol or diesel model, and the Ioniq 5 is lavishly desirable. What’s disappointing is that they don’t seem to get much cheaper. It is a problem for the planet, as well as for us bettors.