The EVs are coming... and here’s a good place to start
Hyundai IONIQHyundai IONIQ
Hyundai IONIQ

AS diesel got another kicking in the Autumn Budget 2017 it became glaringly apparent that 2018 could turn out to be the year of the EV.

Across Europe diesel cars saw a 9.9 per cent decline in registrations during October as alternatively-fuelled vehicles achieved their highest market share ever, albeit a still rather modest 5.5 per cent.

Momentum is gaining for EVs and when Tesla boss Elon Musk drove his new all-electric Roadster out of the back of his new fully-electric HGV last week, boasting that the car would be “the fastest production car ever” the word “momentum” gained new meaning.

It now seems inevitable that the antidiesel mood will soon steer folk away from buying a new oil burner.

Hyundai IONIQ

Forget the 20 per cent better fuel economy and on tap torque that diesels offer — or the fact that the new BMW 530d is said to be six-times cleaner in emissions terms than a 1.2-litre Renault — the tide is turning.

Hyundai launched mild hybrid and EV versions of its Ioniq hatchback last year and became the first manufacturer to offer all three AFV drivetrain options in a single model with the launch of a plug-in hybrid in the July.

It’s easy to see why it might have been worth the wait.

Plug-in hybrids like the BMW i3 range-extender, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Volvo XC90 T8 already tested on these pages should offer enough EV range to complete the daily commute and a combustion engine with long-range capabilities for the weekend.

Priced from £27,495, excluding the government’s plug-in grant of £2,500, the Ioniq Plug-In is an affordably entry-point to EV “motoring”.

The range-topping Premium SE trim seen here is £29,295 (excluding the grant).

For that you get a fairly spacious hatchback — there’s decent rear legroom and a deep, easily accessible 341-litre boot — which features heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, sat-nav, adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, a reversing camera and Bluetooth phone connectivity.

What strangely isn’t part of the standard kit is the 7kw home charging point which allows the car to be charged in just 40 minutes, as opposed to two to three hours with a conventional three-point plug.

Pod Point, Hyundai’s chargepoint partner, will charge £300 for the point, including installation.

Hyundai claims a full charge is good for 39 miles of pure EV driving.

A button on the centre console allows you to disable the 104bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine, which will otherwise cut-in to deliver the most efficient mix of petrol/EV power.

During my week, I’d suggest 20 to 25 miles of pure EV was more likely but the Ioniq proved pretty efficient without a full charge on-board too, recording miles-per-gallon in the mid-50s.

This is a deal better than a Golf GTE and a world away from the thirsty Mitsubishi Outlander or Volvo XC90 with no electric in their batteries.

Hyundai’s official claims detail a fairly ludicrous 252mpg in the spirit of the outlandish claims of its PHEV rivals, the result of crazy EU official test cycles.

Featuring a DCT (dual-clutch) automatic transmission the Ioniq makes fairly smooth and refined progress.

Push harder and the gear-shifts can seem a little laboured.

There is a sense that the battery packs — situated low in the chassis — help to keep the Ioniq’s centre of gravity low, the Ioniq turning-in quite keenly and remaining flat and composed through a bend, ironing out the worst of the road surface with what feels like fairly limited suspension travel.

It’s an easy car in which to maintain momentum, therefore, but the plug-in claims a reasonable 10.6-second dash to 62mph and 110mph top speed either way.

Just remember that in EV mode the electric motor delivers the equivalent of just 59bhp, making for rather sedate progress.

Inside the cabin, the blue highlights which denote the Ioniq’s plug-in status look a little cheap and contrived, but overall the ambience is good for a car which packs an awful lot of technology and standard equipment for a fairly affordable price.

One thing that it did become apparent was that, while Hyundai provide nice compact packaging for the charge cable, I’d end up with a booth full of tangled cable if I owned a plug-in.

I’m always the chap that spends more time untangling the hosepipe than lathering and polishing each time I go to wash the car and the chore of winding an EV’s cable neatly away was a faff each time I attempted to carry out a a charge.

Without doubt, though, I am warming to the idea of cars that can be fuelled for as little as 2p-per-mile.

It’s going to take some adjustment, but EVs are coming and — while it may not be the sexiest — for an affordable way of dipping a toe into the brave new world, the Ioniq Plug-In really isn’t a bad option.

Q Tesla boss Elon Musk claims the Tesla Roadster, set to be launched in 2020, is capable of accelerating to 60mph in under two seconds, and covering a range of almost 1,000km, describing the car as “a hardcore smackdown to gasoline cars.”

The new addition to the Tesla range is expected to cost around £151,000, with prospective buyers laying down a deposit of around £34,000.

First published December 1, 2017