Test Drives

Hyundai Ioniq Electric 2018 Review – Singapore

200km for S$6.20 – Hyundai’s Ioniq Electric clearly proves EVs have a future here in Singapore

Photos: Derryn Wong


Hey, we’ve seen this car before…

Almost but not quite. We’re all familiar with the Hyundai Ioniq by now. The model range kicked off with the Ioniq Hybrid – a petrol-electric hybrid launched in 2016 that’s caused big trouble for the reigning hybrid king, the Toyota Prius, both as a private passenger car and as a taxi.

But Hyundai raised even more eyebrows with the fully battery-powered EV version – the Ioniq Electric – announced earlier this year at the Singapore Motorshow 2018.

A full electric vehicle (EV)? Those aren’t rare right?
Actually they are. While BMW and Porsche have rolled out plug-in hybrid (PHEVs), pure EVs aren’t exactly common.

Right now, all privately owned EVs are far from ‘mass’. In fact you’re probably more likely to be struck by lightning (1 in 286,000 chance) than see one since (as of March 2018) there are 348 registered EVs, which make up 0.000606958 percent of the total 573,351 passenger cars here.

READ MORE: 5 Myths About Electric Vehicles You Probably Believe

The first full EV to go on sale here was the BMW i3 in 2014, though it had a petrol powered range-extender (REX). The battery-only, non-REX model went on sale here in September 2017.

So it’s a shocking Korean?
Yes, and  it’s ground-breaking in many ways. For one thing, it’s shocking, pun intended, that mid-2018 marks the first time we’re testing a fully battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) that at $139,888 with COE, can be considered manstream.

$140k isn’t chump change, but the Ioniq Electric beats the just-launched Renault Zoe to market. Next in line is the BMW i3, at $184,999 with COE, and above that, the Tesla P 85 D at $435,999 with COE.

Hmm interesting. Can you actually drive it all day?

Unlike EVs from a generation ago, who couldn’t even get across Singapore without gobbling half their total charge, the Ioniq Electric does what it says on the box: Quoted range is 243km.

We began our test drive with 230km indicated on the counter, and after 148.6km, had 102km of indicated range left.

While we took it easy most of the time, there was also lots of start-stop traffic and some spirited driving, plus stationary photoshoots, so it’s truly impressive the car performs exactly as its claimed 243km, and a little better.

That’s plenty for anybody, and the only people who do further than that per day are taxi/ride-share, which is the exact reason most of those cars are hybrids.

Oh, but how much does it cost to charge?
EV’s are much cheaper per-km than any other type of car – according to our caculations below they’re one-sixth the cost of a gasoline sedan to run, per kilometre. With the profusion of solar energy in future, look to only get cheaper. After all there’s a guy in Singapore who doesn’t pay a cent to run his electric car.

Dollar-per-km: Petrol vs Hybrid vs EV

Efficiency Fuel Price Per Unit Price per full tank/charge Full tank/charge range Price Per Km
Hyundai Elantra 1.6 6.4L/100km $2.119* $105.95 / 50L 781.25km $0.1356
Hyundai Ioniq 3.8L/100km $2.119* $95.355/45L 1,184km $0.0805
Hyundai Ioniq Electric 10kWh/100km $0.2215 per kWh** $6.202 / 28kWh 280km $0.02215

Prices on April 2018 *Caltex 95 after on-site discount **EMA tariff rate, not counting charging/grid inefficiency etcetera

Colour us interested. Also, it looks futuristic..ish..

As part of the Ioniq family, it looks just like its hybrid brother. Only the front end, with its solid-framed grille, and the ‘electric’ badge on the rear, show that it lacks an internal combustion engine.

The cabin is different, too: There’s more space, since it doesn’t need a conventional gearbox – the drive system is basically the motor (which sits up front between the wheels), the cooling and energy management system, and the 28kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack, which is located under the rear seat and boot area. The tradeoff is that cargo space drops from 443-litres (on the hybrid) to 350-litres.

Next to it is a wireless smartphone charging dock, which is more useful than the horizontal ones found in the Hybrid and Sonata. Copper-coloured trim pieces further highlight this Ioniq’s EV nature.

Other than that it’s business as usual with the same well-crafted cabin featuring lots of nice-to-touch, soft-feel plastics and thoroughly practical layout.

The driver looks at an active 7.0-inch active instrument display and locally-fitted infotainment system. Like the hybrid, there’s a haul of standard equipment to make any Japanese hybrid jealous: ventilated seats, blind spot indicators, active cruise control (though it doesn’t do stop-n-go), sunroof, and more.

Does it drive like something from the Jetsons?
A little more than the Hybrid.

Prod the start button and only the lit-up instrument display and air-conditioning tell you the car’s ready to run. Like the BMW i3, the Ioniq Electric glides silently out of the parking lot and onto the road with a total lack of fuss that’s both serene and slightly unnerving to first-timers.

Yet, like the BMW i3, it’s also very easy to get used to, and in many ways, a purer experience than driving a gasoline-powered car. The relationship between your right foot and forward motion is much more direct, thanks to the fact that the electric motor makes its peak torque with instant-on responsiveness.

That actually sounds quite fun…

Even more than the Hybrid, the Ioniq Electric is a positive for the driver. It has the unobtrusive, biddable nature of a family sedan, but should you choose to charge forward, there’s a lot of fun to be had.

There’s no engine here – underneath the ‘engine’ cover are power electronics, cooling, and an electric motor.

Straight-line launches are grin-inducing – in fact the car accelerates quicker in real life than its 9.9 second quoted time) – while rocketing out of corners with only the hiss of the tyres to hint at the speed you’re carrying through.

There are three drive modes (Eco, Normal, Sport) but you can also fine-tune the amount of regenerative braking from zero (coast further and brake conventionally) to three (maximum for rolling downhill like ‘L’ on a conventional auto gearbox).

It isn’t the most quiet car around, but without the vibrations of an engine to contend with, plus a decently good ride quality, not to mention adaptive cruise control and a whole load of useful safety systems, it’s excellent at laid-back commuting.

But if I don’t have a house, an EV is kinda hard to live with, right?
That’s the key minus point of any EV right now.

For the Ioniq, which takes the latest Type 2 charger plus as BMW’s plug-ins, there are currently only four Greenlots Type 2 stations here, plus the Hyundai showroom at Alexandra Road.

On the other side of it, the long term economics are still an unknown at this point, Komoco offers a 10-year battery warranty, and on the whole, electric vehicle service costs are less than conventional cars, since fewer fluids and replaceables are needed.

The electric vehicle buts are still there, of course. So for a person to get the best use out of one, they’d need a house with a charge point, and factor in the 4.5 hours for a full charge too. Yet the Ioniq already makes a strong case for itself – no local air pollution, a futuristic and fun driving experience, and real-life practicality.

In other words, it’s not the tech that’s immature, but Singapore that is. But with global warming and air pollution looming as unavoidable issues for city dwellers, it’s something that needs to change.

That change will happen as a series of small jolts, rather than one huge shock, and the Ioniq Electric is just one such positive charge.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric (sunroof)

Electric Motor 120hp, 295Nm
Battery Lithium ion, 28kWh
Range 243km / 280km
Charge Time Hours
0-100km/h 9.9 seconds
Top Speed 165km/h
Efficiency 11.5 kWh/100km
VES Band A1
Agent Komoco Motors
Price $145,888 with COE
$139,888 with COE (no sunroof)

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong