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Hyundai's 'New Thinking, New Possibilities' tag line always sounded a tad hollow to my ears. 'Great progress from a low base, now on a par with the mainstream' might be a better summation of the past decade of the South Korean brand's rise, but is less catchy and would get you thrown out of marketing school.
However, with the new Ioniq - offering three electrified powertrains within one standalone model - maybe Hyundai really has thought anew and given itself possibilities as a result. With hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric options, the Ioniq takes on the Toyota Prius (hybrid and plug-in) and Nissan Leaf (EV only) and arguably offers greater attributes than both - from lower prices to better driving and visual appeal.
granitekitchen has already driven the Hybrid, and as the plug-in version isn't due until mid-2017, now is the perfect time to assess the electric model. Of the three, the full EV stands out most on account of its 'closed' front face, finished in a gently contrasting colour to the bodywork. A touch longer than a Nissan Leaf (4,470 vs. 4,445mm), room upfront in the Ioniq is fine and acceptable in the back, if a little weak on headroom due to the roof's rearward slope (for aerodynamic benefit).
The cabin is non-threateningly normal too, and although the EV loses out on regular boot space compared with the Hybrid (350 vs 443 litres), with seats folded, a useful 1,410-litre loading area is revealed.
But the real revelation is the Ioniq Electric's drive. There's no gearstick and just four buttons - Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Park - but once 'D' is prodded and accelerator depressed, the motor is enthusiastic in response. Indeed, the Ioniq's 10.2-second 0-60mph time betters the VW e-Golf, Kia Soul EV and Nissan Leaf, and along windy A-roads it's surprisingly agile and fun, not adjectives normally associated with Hyundai.
The caveat is that the driver needs to vary the level of regenerative braking available - weirdly accessed via steering wheel-mounted paddles, and which has a similar effect to changing down a gear in a car with a manual gearbox.
The 'no re-gen' setting makes the car feel like it could run away with itself, and 'level three re-gen' is really only a way of braking hard without using the foot pedal, but level two feels just right for spirited driving. That driving can be enjoyed for longer too, with a 174-mile potential range that beats the new 30kW Leaf's 155 miles and is way more than the e-Golf's 118.
The Ioniq is priced lower than all of its rivals too, but with a good spec, and still qualifies for a £4500 Government Plug-In Car Grant. Only a poor residual value - KwikCarcost quotes 20% - lets it down. While better than the Leaf 30kW's terrible 17%,.
it's worse than the e-Golf (24%) and Soul EV (27%), and all those numbers reflect a segment still not trusted as a good second-hand buy. As numbers rise and the UK public charging network expands that should change. Until then, Hyundai believes the Electric will remain niche.
But if you have access to personal charging via home or work and your commute can be accommodated within its range, the tax breaks, genuine driving fun, and distinct model, full-electric eco feel-good factor could be hard to beat. I'd recommend a test drive. Really.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric Premium
Model price range £28,995-£30,795*
Residual Value £5,875 (20.3%)
Service, maintenance and repair £2,111
Vehicle Excise Duty £0
National Insurance £2,655
Cost per mile 54.9p
Range 174 miles
CO2 (BIK band) 0g/km (7%)
BIK 20/40% per month £34/£68
Warranty 5yrs/unltd miles
Boot space (min/max) 350/1410 litres
Engine size/power Electric motor/120hp
* Before Govt £4,500 Plug-in Car Grant
One of best-driving and distinctive mainstream EVs to date, but RVs still need work