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2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Review: Expected Release Date, Price, Performance, MPG, and Rivals

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist

July 14, 2020 at 04:21 PM

Hyundai Ioniq is one of the most fuel-efficient electric cars in the market and in 2021 it is expected to continue this trend. The 2021 model MSRP is expected to start at just over $33k and it comes with tons of tech even on the base model. With tough competition from rivals like the Tesla Model 3, BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf the Hyundai Ioniq has its work cut out being relatively a newcomer. It offers great value for money with its excellent MPGE, environmentally friendly interiors and very strong battery pack.

The Hyundai Ioniq, introduced in 2016 at Geneva as well as New York auto shows, is a compact five-door liftback. The name Ioniq has been derived from two terms - Ion and Unique. Hyundai Ioniq is available in three variants. They are hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric. It was in February 2016 when Ioniq started its journey with the hybrid variant and a few months later, it introduced the electric model in July 2016. The plug-in hybrid came to the market in 2017. 

In 2020, Hyundai Ioniq Electric received a more powerful powertrain with a redesigned exterior and upgraded interior. The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is expected to get the same Permanent-magnet synchronous motor (PMSM), having a lithium-ion polymer battery with a capacity of 38.3 kWh. From its first model in 2017 to its latest model in 2020, this car has been EPA's most efficient vehicle, having a fuel economy of 136 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent. We hope that it will continue its record in the 2021 model also. 

In the 2019 Green NCAP tests, the Honda Ioniq Electric received an overall rating of five stars and full marks in Clean Air Index and 8.5 out of 10 in Energy Efficiency Index. The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric will be available in two trims - the base SE trim and the higher Limited trim. The prices of the trims will be $33,045 and $38,615, respectively. Some of the competitors of Hyundai Ioniq are Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and Hyundai Kona Electric. With a worldwide sales figure of 106,300 units and 15,075 units only in the U.S., we can say that Honda Ioniq Electric has become one of the most preferred vehicles of recent times.

What’s new with the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq?

The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric is expected to introduce some minor changes. 

  • The 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric will get Hyundai's new Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP).
  • It is rumored that Hyundai will use its newly introduced prophecy concept in Ioniq electric.
  • Possible update to tech 
  • Improvement in safety

What is under the hood of the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric?

Till 2019, Hyundai Ioniq Electric had a Front-engine rear-battery Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor with a 28-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that was capable of producing 120 hp and 295 Nm. However, in 2020, the powertrain was improved to a Permanent-magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) with a 38.3 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery, which can produce power and torque of 134 hp and 295 Nm, respectively. The 2021 Ioniq Electric will continue with the same powertrain options as the 2020 model and both the trims will have the same powertrain configurations. 

Previously, Ioniq Electric used a 6.6 kW charger but now it has improved to a 7.2 kW charger that can recharge the battery from 0 to 80% in just 54 minutes. Moreover, there is an integrated In-Cable Control Box (ICCB) that can be used to recharge the battery at regular household outlets. Apart from the newly introduced powertrain, it comes with a 1-speed direct drive transmission with FWD.

Models

2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Hatchback (Expected)

2020 BMW i3 120Ah Hatchback

2020 Nissan LEAF S Hatchback

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

MSRP

$33,045

$46,000

$32,525

$37,190

Engine

Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (38.3 kWh)

Synchronous Traction Motor (42.2 kWh)

Electric Motor (40 kWh)

Electric Drive

Drivetrain

FWD

RWD

FWD

FWD

Transmission

1-Speed Direct Drive

1-Speed Direct Drive

1-Speed Direct Drive

Single-Speed Reduction with sport drive mode select and shift-by-wire

Power (hp @ rpm)

134 hp @ NA

168 @ 4,800

147 @ 3,282

201 @ 3,800

Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm)

218 lb.-ft @ NA

184 lb.-ft @ 0

263 @ 0

291 @ 0

0-60 MPH

9.9

7.2

8.4

6.4

Quarter mile

17.4

NA

NA

15.0

Hyundai Ioniq Electric, coming with a Permanent-magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) and a 1-speed direct-drive transmission is not one of the quickest electric cars available in the market. It focuses more on efficiency and saving of energy rather than on speed and acceleration. Taking 9.9 seconds to reach 60 mph and 17.4 seconds to reach the quarter-mile mark, Ioniq Electric is the slowest car in this segment. It has a top speed of 103 mph. 

When compared to its rivals, Hyundai Ioniq Electric does not have the most powerful motor. All of its rivals come with stronger and solid powertrains capable of performing better. The 2020 BMW i3 120Ah Hatchback has Synchronous Traction Motor that can produce a horsepower of 170.

How Well Does the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Handle?

Hyundai Ioniq is built mainly for daily purposes and city rides. The platform and the chassis have been specially designed to provide a comfortable and stable ride quality. However, with stiffer suspensions, it becomes a bit difficult while taking the turns. Due to the position of the battery, which is situated under the floor of the hatchback and the length of the wheelbase, the center of gravity is lowered to offer a more stable ride. Moreover, the handling has been further improved by the multi-link front suspension along with the coupled torsion beam axle.

Though this car is a nice one to travel in city conditions, the ride quality deteriorates on bumpy uneven roads due to excessive bouncing of the vehicle. Moreover, there is a continuous requirement for steering correction to keep the vehicle on the track that causes some serious problems while driving on the highways. It is expected that the 2021 model will rectify all these issues.

How much fuel economy does the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq offer?

As mentioned earlier, Ioniq Electric is the EPA's most fuel-efficient vehicle from its introduction in the market till today. However, with the introduction of a more advanced and refined powertrain in 2020, fuel efficiency has further improved. Previously, it offered a range of 124 miles that has been improved to 170 miles in 2020. The combined MPGE is 136 with a city MPGE of 145 and highway MPGE of 121.

Models

2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Hatchback (Expected)

2020 BMW i3 120Ah Hatchback

2020 Nissan LEAF S Hatchback

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

MPGE (City)

145

129

124

132

MPGE (Highway)

121

106

99

108

MPGE (Combined)

136

118

112

120

Fuel Capacity (Gallons)

NA

NA

NA

NA

Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles)

NA

NA

NA

NA

Though the MPGE of Ioniq Electric is highest in this segment, the range of the rivals are better. The 2020 BMW i3 gives a maximum range of 259 miles. However, the Hyundai Ioniq is not far behind its other rivals. In fact, it has the second-best maximum range of 170 miles without having the range extender on.

What can you expect from the interior of the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq?

The interior of Hyundai Ioniq has been made by following the concept of "green car", using soft-touch plastics from which new plastics cannot be made. These are made from sugarcane fibers and the plastic is manufactured by recycling old plastics with wood and volcanic stone fillers. The resultant material is light and long-lasting. 

There are two rows of seats that can accommodate five adults. The front seats offer enough head and legroom for adults, but the rear seats are not sufficiently comfortable with lesser legroom. The seats are also tight and stiff, causing problems during long drives. The base trim offers cloth upholstery and manually adjustable front seats as standard with optional power-adjustable front seats, heated front seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel. 

Models

2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Hatchback (Expected)

2020 BMW i3 120Ah Hatchback

2020 Nissan LEAF S Hatchback

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Seating Capacity

5

4

5

5

Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

39.1/56.1/42.2

39.6/53.6/40.5

41.2/54.3/42.1

38.0/55.5/41.5

Rear Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches)

37.4/55.0/35.7

37.2/49.2/31.9

37.3/52.5/33.3

37.7/54.5/33.4

Cargo Capacity (ft³)

23.0

36.9

23.6

19.2

For the safety of children, Hyundai has equipped Ioniq with two entire sets of LATCH connectors for the rear window seats and a single tether connection for the rear middle seat. The 2021 Ioniq Electric will come with a redesigned dashboard with improved materials, controls, and lighting than the previous one. At the center of the dashboard, there will be a brand new 10.25-inch split touchscreen. Below the touch screen, there will be buttons to control different functions of the car. Moreover, a new driver display will be present consisting of digital dials and blue lighting to give a classy effect.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric offers satisfactory cargo space and one of the highest cargo spaces among electric cars. Though the hybrid variant comes with 26.5 cubic feet of cargo space, the electric variant gets 23 cubic feet due to the position of the battery packs. Due to the low roofline, buyers may face some difficulties in loading large cargoes. Moreover, the rear seats can be folded by 60/40, which means one can further load goods for a long weekend trip. 

What about the infotainment system of the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric?

Hyundai Ioniq comes with a user-friendly infotainment system. It gets a standard 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Higher trims get a 10.3-inch screen with optional navigation. Moreover, the new Bluelink connectivity is available as a standard feature on both the trims that can give you live updates about traffic, charging stations, speed camera locations, etc.

Apart from all these, the cloud-based voice control along with the multi Bluetooth feature enables you to connect two phones simultaneously.  The unit is easy and slick to use. The menus are laid out in a very intuitive manner which makes it very easy to operate while driving. The unit is also very responsive to the touch and offers immediate feedback,

Will there be any changes to the exterior of the new 2021 Hyundai Ioniq?

Hyundai Ioniq will make no such changes in its exterior styling and design. It will follow the 2020 model of Ioniq. Ioniq Electric has a classy design yet a sporty look. It has a plastic panel instead of the front grille because there is no need for air movements as there is no engine. The two ends of the plastic panel continue to the headlamps, which are halogen lamps and not LED ones. Both the trims will get new 16-inch alloy wheels.

It comes with chrome side window trims that give the car a futuristic look. Furthermore, the window glass is lightly tinted to protect the occupants from the harsh sun and the glares while driving at night. Going with its futuristic looks the rear brake lights are a led cluster that lights up to warn the person following you.

Models

2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric Hatchback (Expected)

2020 BMW i3 120Ah Hatchback

2020 Nissan LEAF S Hatchback

2020 Hyundai Kona Electric

Curb Weight (lbs.)

3164

2965

3433

3,770

Length (inches)

176

158.3

176.4

164.6

Width (inches)

71.7

69.9

70.5

70.9

Height (inches)

57.1

62.9

61.4

61.2

Ground Clearance (inches)

5.5

NA

5.9

6.2

Wheelbase (inches)

106.3

101.2

106.3

102.4

Looking at the exterior dimensions of the cars, Nissan LEAF S comes with the highest curb weight. The exterior dimensions of Ioniq Electric are slightly larger than their competitors. In our opinion, compared to its rivals the Hyundai Ioniq is the better-looking car with its smooth flowing design language.

Will the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric be worth it?

Hyundai Ioniq Electric will be one of the best buys in this segment. It offers a large number of features and provides the best fuel economy at a very decent and affordable price. Hyundai has fully focused on making this car as environmentally friendly as possible. Moreover, the powertrain for the 2021 model has been improved that will offer better performance and fuel economy. The interior is also upgraded with premium materials and highly advanced technologies. The trunk space is also more than enough.

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