By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

5dr family hatch (EV)


Back in 2016, Hyundai believed that the market-leading Nissan LEAF had had its own way for far too long in the affordable part of the slowly growing full-electric car segment. They aimed this full-Electric IONIQ model directly at that car and it subsequently also served the brand against a newer wave of EVs like the Volkswagen ID.3. On paper at least, this IONIQ Electric certainly seems to offer a package that eco-minded buyers in this class looking for EV models from the 2016 to 2022 period will want to consider, particularly in the upgraded longer-range version that was introduced in 2019.

The History

Once upon a time, Hyundai built simple, cheap, budget brand cars. But by 2016, it was making models like the IONIQ, which was the world's first vehicle to offer the choice of three electrified powertrains. We're looking here at the IONIQ Electric. It was the full-battery-powered version of a design that was also available in our market with Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid power - and it was very advanced for its time.

The IONIQ Electric was originally launched just after the Hybrid versions, back in 2016, initially with a 28kWh battery mated to an 88kW electric motor. But that only allowed for a driving range of 124 miles and as EV technology progressed it was soon clear that this wasn’t going to be enough to keep this battery-powered IONIQ fully competitive. So in mid-2019, Hyundai significantly upgraded the engineering of this car, adding in a bigger 38.3kWh battery mated to a more powerful 100kW electric motor which together increased the EV driving range by nearly 60%. At the same time, the car got an infotainment upgrade with the introduction of a sophisticated new 10.25-inch widescreen navigation system with sophisticated smartphone app-based Bluelink telematics.

In Hybrid and PHEV Plug-in hybrid forms, the IONIQ went head-to-head with the car it was primary launched against, the Toyota Prius but in this full-electric form, it set itself apart with an extra full-battery-powered option at an affordable price. Like its combustion stablemates, the IONIQ Electric sold until 2022 when it was a effectively replaced by a new wave of Hyundai full-Battery models like the IONIQ 5 and the second generation Kona Electric. So does this earlier Hyundai stab at EV motoring make sense as a used buy? Let’s find out.

What You Get

This Hyundai challenged the eco-motoring status quo in lots of ways and exterior design was another of them. On this battery-powered full-Electric variant, a front grille wasn't of course needed - not for cooling anyway. We'd argue that it is required for stylistic reasons, a point proved by the way that this battery-powered version was saddled with a rather ugly blanking panel that could be ordered in a choice of grey shades or in polar white.

Inside, Hyundai took much the same conventionally futuristic approach. You know you’re in something more advanced than an ordinary Focus or Golf-class family hatch from the 2016-2022 period, the IONIQ Electric of course had to differ from its Hybrid and PHEV showroom stablemates when it came to the provision of a gearstick because of course it didn’t need to have one. Instead, on the separated lower centre console between the seats, the single-speed transmission system offers small buttons for 'Park', 'Neutral', 'Drive' or 'Reverse'.

The cabin of the revised updated post-2019 model feels of higher quality than the original version launched in 2016 – and is certainly a little smarter than what you get in a comparable Prius or a Nissan LEAF. The big change made as part of the mid-term update lay with the addition of a big 10.25-inch Widescreen Navigation screen, part of a media package which included a very decent Infinity sound system.

What To Look For

As owners have indicated, the IONIQ is an extremely reliable car, but as with any second-hand model, you do have to be on the look-out for common issues. Here, we’re going to focus on the Electric version. The drive battery in used IONIQ Electric models should have quite a bit of life in it, unless you happen to be looking at one of the very earliest ’16-plate 28kWh models. When the battery is on its way out, you’ll obviously find that it won’t go as far on each charge – and when it starts to run low on charge, you’ll find that the car will particularly start to struggle going uphill. When it gets old, the lithium-ion battery used here can suffer from the ionised liquid in the battery freezing certain cells; those cells are then unable to receive charge. Replacement batteries cost in the £1,600-£3,200 bracket.

On The Road

We’d strongly suggest you try and avoid the early 2016-2018-era 28kWh versions of this model which could go just 124 miles between charges. The post-2019-era upgraded version with its 38.3kWh battery and more powerful electric motor is obviously a far better bet; though obviously, to get anywhere near its official quoted 182 mile WLTP driving range figure, you’ll need to be using the most sensible of the three provided driving modes – green-tinged ‘Eco’, which slightly restricts throttle travel and climate system performance.

As another part of the upgrades made to this model in mid-2019, there was a switch from a 6.6kW on-board charger to a 7.2kW system, increasing the amount of charge the car can take in any given period. Following that, it became possible to replenish this model’s lithium-ion cells with a charge of up to 80% in just 33 minutes, providing you've got access to a 50kW DC fast charger. If you haven't, then a home wallbox will re-charge an Electric IONIQ model completely in 4 hours 25 minutes. Or, if you're somewhere with only a normal 3-pin plug to connect into, an overnight 12-hour charge should be sufficient to substantially top the car up.


Hyundai was a relatively late starter in terms of battery-powered automotive technology yet with this IONIQ Electric, managed to deliver a product that in its time looked extremely competitive against the EVs fielded by more established players. The looks aren't especially arresting and quite a few rivals from the 2016-2022 period can offer you more all-electric driving range. Still, if you can accept that, get on with the styling and adjust to the frugally-focused manner this car will encourage you to drive in, then we think you might like mostly everything else about it.