What’s your biggest fear associated with buying an EV? Chances are, most of you are worried about running out of range. What if I told you, there’s an EV in town that can take your range anxiety and put it to sleep permanently? Enter - the Hyundai IONIQ 5. The car that won three World Car Awards in 2022 - one for design, another one for being the best EV, and the last one for literally being the best car in the world! The design bit is not at all hard to believe. One look at the IONIQ 5 and you will find yourself reaching for your phone camera. I have no other words to describe it other than the fact that it is a beautiful car. But, it’s still got two more awards to answer for, and so, I decided to take it on a 900km road trip.
Where did I go?
I called up a friend and like the good old college days, a plan was made in 15 minutes, and we were on our way in a couple of hours. Our destination was Kausani, a small town in Uttarakhand that lies 1,890 metres above sea level, so it’s a reasonable climb. It’s also not the most ideal place to visit in an EV as the nearest ‘fast’ charger is at least a 150kms away. Due to bad roads in the region, we chose a route where the distance between the last DC charger and our hotel in Kausani was 172kms. That was cutting it close. On the way from Noida to Kausani, we stopped at two charging points - once in Gajraula where a 60kW charger quickly had us back at 100 percent in about 40 minutes, and once in Rudrapur where a 30kW charger took a little more time, but allowed us to catch some sleep as well. From that point on, any more charging that the IONIQ 5 might require would have to be done the old-fashioned way - by the roadside with a 15amp emergency charger.
With our charging problems out of the way momentarily, let’s talk about the drive. There are three modes in the IONIQ 5 and all of them have something to offer. ON a full charge, the Eco mode offers you about 15 to 20 kms more range over Sport mode, and about 8 to 10 kms over Normal mode. In my opinion, the drive modes on the IONIQ 5 are not there to soothe your range anxiety. Instead, they are there to adapt to your mood. In short, the drive modes alter the sensitivity of the throttle in certain areas of its travel, changing the whole driving experience. But, whatever mode you might end up picking, the IONIQ always has enough torque to whiz past a line of cars or trucks, which is pretty handy in the hills.
How was the journey?
Breezy! At the start of the journey, Google Maps told us that it would take us about 11 hours , and including our charging stops, it took us 12 hours. At the end of it, we did not feel like we had been on the road for 12 hours. It felt more like a 5-6 hour journey. The highways were pretty dull and we maintained a steady speed of 100km/h. Once the hills started at Kathgodam, the road narrowed down a bit, but the IONIQ 5, despite its size, still felt pretty easy to manoeuvre in the tight turns. It’s only when you come to an absolute stop, and have a low seating position like mine, do you lose your bearings of the car’s edges, and need the help of its onboard cameras to find them again.
The ride quality is on another level. The IONIQ 5 has a magic carpet-like ride quality which can soak up even the worst of bumps. Honestly, you will have to be pretty cruel with the car to get a reaction out of it, or to unnerve it over bumps, and that’s because it’s a heavy car at around 2 tonnes. But 95 percent of the times, that weight is kept in check and stays out of sight. It’s only when you try to be ultra sporty with the IONIQ 5 that you feel it. It’s not like the IONIQ cannot hold a fast pace, but it’s just that you do not want it at its edge all the time, because, keeping it at 80 percent offers a more delightful driving experience.
Also Read: Citroen eC3 Electric Car Review: The Sensible EV?
What is there in Kausani?
Well, that depends on you. We had gone there to meet an old friend. On the other hand, if you listen to Mahatma Gandhi, it’s the Switzerland of India. In plain English, there is a wide view of the Himalayan range (about 300kms of it) with peaks like Trisul, Nanda Devi and Panchchuli clearly visible on most days. As for us, as luck would have it, the view was covered by clouds on the same day we were there. But, it wasn’t all bad news. While the Himalayas might have eluded us, the IONIQ 5 was still there. In fact, it caused such a buzz in the whole town that people actually came down to see it, with questions like if EVs could actually work over there. I guess the IONIQ 5’s presence was enough to answer that question.
As far as the charging worries go, the IONIQ 5’s battery had 45 percent left - GULP! If it had taken us 55 percent of battery to get there, surely, we’d need a similar state of charge to get back to the fast charger in Rudrapur. This is what range anxiety can do. It can mess up simple physics in your head. You see, most of the patches on the way to Kausani were uphill. I was losing a lot of charge climbing up, but I was able to put energy back in the batteries as well due to the aggressive regen of the electric motors. I forgot all of that and decided to ask a Dhaba owner to help me top up the batteries. I figured, if I charged all night, maybe I will get back the 10 percent that I need. As luck would have it, I was able to top it back to 60 percent by morning. I was elated, as that meant I could go check out a few places in Kausani, before heading back.
Did we make it back?
Yes. But, you will not believe the IONIQ 5’s state of charge when we got back to the charger in Rudrapur - it was at 24 percent! It was quite anti-climatic to be honest. So much so, that I was thinking of skipping the charger at Rudrapur and head straight to Gajraula, but I decided against that. Instead, I just topped up my battery for 20 minutes and continued on my way. A good thing as once I got onto the highway, the range began to fall like anything and I reached Gajraula with 2 percent charge remaining and 7kms of range left.
The plan was to wait till the battery is charged up to a 100 percent and then make it to Delhi. Instead, another EV pulled up right after we started charging and once it was plugged in, our charging rate dropped from 60kW to 22kW, which meant we would have had to wait for more than two hours for the battery to be topped up to the brim. So, a quick 50 minute charging session where we had our dinner and replied to some work mails, and we were back on the road, with enough range to reach home, and still have some to spare. Having done all of this, I think the Hyundai IONIQ 5 has thoroughly justified its World Car Award for being the best electric car.
Would I do it again?
Now, it’s time to answer the biggest question. Is it literally the best car in the world? This question can be subjective, but a car has to do a few things really well to even be considered for it. The ride quality needs to be great, and it is. The performance should be quick, and it is. The interior should feel special, and it does. But most importantly, you should want to get back in the driver’s seat right after you are done driving it, and, I did!
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