Hyundai's battery-powered Ioniq Electric is an affordable and pleasant way to break free from the pumps
Go green with Hyundai's battery-powered Ioniq Electric The Hyundai Ioniq Electric has zero tailpipe emissions, fantastic mid-stream acceleration and handles corners well. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

As the first mass-market electric car available in showrooms here, the Hyundai Ioniq Electric more than meets the mark.

First, a full charge, which takes under five hours via a regular charger, offers a real-world mileage of 200km. Via a quicker charger, the car's battery will attain 80 per cent charge in 45 minutes.

A full charge will last four days, based on the average distance clocked by passenger cars here.

In the course of this test drive, the car averaged 8km per kWh, which is not too far from Hyundai's declared 8.7km. Based on today's electric tariff, a year's usage will cost an owner $485 - compared with $2,770 for a petrol car with an above-average efficiency of 12km per litre.

That translates to $22,850 in savings over the car's 10-year lifespan. More, if you live in the western part of Singapore, where a competitive power market is resulting in 20 to 25 per cent lower rates.

The savings will partly offset the higher purchase cost of the tailpipe-less Hyundai. And you get to do your part in saving the environment.

With most of Singapore's electricity being generated from natural gas, driving this spacious battery-powered fastback is relatively green.

According to a wells-to-wheels analysis by United States-based Green Transportation, an electric car which is 40 per cent less efficient than the Ioniq Electric would equal a consumption of 23km per litre. Which means the Hyundai would offer 32.2km per litre - a figure unmatched by any petrol car today.

And because it has zero tailpipe emissions, the Hyundai is very clean where it matters - in areas where you live, work and play. You do not have to worry about being penalised for idling your engine. And you do not have to worry about the emission tests legislated by the National Environment Agency.

The Ioniq Electric attracts a relatively modest road tax of $1,082 a year, unlike other performance electric cars here.

That is not to say the Hyundai is a weak performer. Like all modern electric cars, it offers instant torque the moment you step on the pedal. While kick-down response from standstill is not spectacular (partly because of wheelspin), the car has fantastic mid-stream acceleration.

It handles corners well because of its low centre of gravity, but the steering ratio is loose, resulting in you having to turn the wheel like a truck driver for parking manoeuvres.

The car comes with modern premium features such as adaptive cruise control (which automatically keeps a safe distance from the vehicle in front), reverse camera (which is not very sharp), a connected infotainment system with navigation, electric parking brake and wireless phone-charging.

A push-button drive system allows you to activate Drive, Neutral, Reverse and Park with just a finger.

The coolest bit is a pair of shift paddles. Unlike paddles in a conventional car, these modulate the amount of power regeneration when you lift your foot off the throttle. In cars like the BMW i3 and Renault Fluence ZE, full regeneration happens as a default, resulting in the car shedding speed quickly even without you touching the brakes.

But in the Ioniq Electric, you can get a bit more coasting distance if you choose to.

Being electric, it has the refinement of a Lexus. This is apparent when you jump from the car to an Ioniq Hybrid, which gives you over 1,000km on a full tank, but feels pretty coarse when compared with its super silky and super quiet electric sibling.