Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 are the current high-voltage stars of the upper electric class. But will they stand up to the opposition of the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y? The Y is being compared for the first time in the European version.
Sometimes it would be better if things weren't so good. That may not be a statement of general validity, but it is an obvious one if you've waded through all the tedious press information on these four electric cars. Nowhere is it simply stated that the technicians have put together a fragrant car that drives electrically. That's probably not good enough.
That's why electric driving usually goes hand in hand with veganism, PET bottles or plastic floating around at sea. If we remember correctly, the Fisker Karma was the first car with a vegan interior in 2011. To do this, they dug up wood that had sunken in the sea for the dashboard panelling. For large series, the manufacturers seem to have agreed on the use of PET bottles for covers and carpets. The bosses of leading car companies certainly meet at the weekend with rubber boots and landing nets to fish a few hundredweight of microplastics from the oceans and to recycle them for vehicle production. For those of us who are enthusiastic about cars, there are no moral or immoral cars, but only fascinating and boring ones, whether they have a combustion engine or an electric car. When it comes to electrics, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 are currently the best. Now, for the first time, the European version of the Tesla Model Y, which will soon be built in Germany, is being compared. Ford is sending the Mustang Mach-E as the fourth Stromer, like the other three with a large battery and two-motor four-wheel drive. We clarify how good they are and which one is the best. But the most important thing: they are all great cinema.
Tesla Model Y: the final exam
Part of Tesla's dazzling character is the eternal argument as to whether they are the good guys or the bad guys. Whether they want to make the world a better place or want to undermine the competition – and even Grünheide. But there is no doubt about its success, last year Tesla temporarily sold more Model 3s here than VW from the Golf. They made 400,000 Model Y last year, and now they are coming from the German Gigafactory. Our test car comes from the one in Shanghai, where models for Europe have been built since August 2021. Why are we dating this exactly? Because the last Y that we tested (issue 10/2021) was a US model. Does that make a difference? Not just one!
But not technically, as it remains as before: The permanently excited synchronous motor at the rear and the separately excited asynchronous machine at the front together bring it to 378 kW and 575 Nm. One advantage of this combination, which offers enormous pressure and driving performance, is that the externally excited motor at the front can be switched off easily when the load is light.It does not need to be energized; in this way it can be avoided that it runs against the rear one, which compensates for its slightly lower efficiency compared to a synchronous motor in the overall system. The energy is supplied by a 79 kWh lithium-ion battery, which consists of 4680 individual cells and can be charged with up to 250 kW. With nine minutes, this gives the Y the shortest charging time for a range of 150 km.
Tesla is also unrivaled when it comes to efficiency
With 26.3 kWh/100 km in the test average, but above all with 17.6 kWh on the eco lap. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 71 g/km – as much as a consumption of 3.0 l Super/100 km. It manages to do this without major effort in terms of recuperation variance. In addition to the two drive modes - enormously fast and downright abnormally fast - the single-pedal mode with increased recuperation delay can also be selected.
Like almost everything, via the central touchscreen. Although there would be plenty of space to display on a 15-inch diagonal, the displays for speed and range are tiny, and you have to look for those for the mileage - and then come across them more or less by accident. Then we haven't even talked about the exterior mirror adjustment. You have to activate a menu for them, and then use the rotary-slide buttons on the steering wheel to make the adjustments. And if you think you want to turn on the lights or windscreen wipers yourself, you have to get to grips with the in-depth menus. The fact that the fickle track and speed guidance is activated via the gear selector lever is also not one of the things that comes to you so intuitively. After all: Unlike the last test car, the voice control now works excellently.
Not outstanding yet, but the Y now springs a little better. Although it is still a pounding on short bumps and on long ones a catapult hard on the limit of the bearable - but no longer beyond it. As spacious as the Y accommodates its passengers, it is furnished with uncomfortably hard seats in the front and rear. The processing? In this area, the quote from the esteemed colleague Jörn Thomas on the comparison drive emphasizes the illustrious hodgepodge of materials and the rickety tinkering quality: "We've had even worse Teslas."
Driving safety deserves more trust than the solidity of the workmanship. The steering still responds in an uncomfortably hasty manner, without conveying any helpful impressions of what it's doing on the basis of steering force development or feedback. But the front axle keeps the line with good grip. The Tesla bends rapidly in curves, drives through them neutrally and without load change jerks, then braces itself vehemently on the next straight. So the career of the Model Y is not yet going in a straight line.But with the comparatively low price, the decent equipment and the many improvements, is it not only mature, but even ready for the first win?
Ford Mach-E: The Horse Whisperer
On August 5, 1899, Henry Ford founded his first car company, the Detroit Automobile Company, with $15,000 in seed money. Pretty much on the corner of Cass Avenue and Amsterdam Street where the plant was is now a $93 million life sciences center built in 2013. Oh, how symbolic that is for change and progress in the economy - and for how long Ford has been at it. The Mustang Mach-E symbolizes Ford's step into the future. The technicians developed a skateboard platform for him, positioned a 129 kW synchronous motor including gears across each axle and staggered the modules of the 88 kWh lithium-ion battery in between.
They put a body over it, which gives the external style significantly more space than the space reserves in the rear. There, the Mustang accommodates passengers rather cramped. The fact that luggage transport is not one of the strengths of the Mach-E is something Ford can't even reckon with, that the 100 liters of the front trunk are so elegantly calculated into the total volume that you think they're going to be on top of that. After all, more than the entire charging cable can be folded up at the front, since the cargo space can be divided up cleverly.
How is the service divided? Unlike the Tesla, there is a conventional arsenal of buttons, levers, switches and dials for basic functions. The edge touchscreen, which you can tap and wipe your way through, organizes minor things from climate, navigation and assistance to driving modes and one-pedal characteristics. Wipe? Is the Mustang the only one that can have its rear window, which is a unique functional advantage over its rivals. However, there are disadvantages such as the most impractical door opener, the small tailgate or the clumsy charging with direct current and wallbox alternating current.
Yes, the Mach-E sometimes stands in the way of its success the most - most significantly with its handling. With the bumpy-hard suspension, he catapults the rear axle over Autobahn transverse joints, bumping into even small bumps badly awkwardly. In addition, the set-up brings even more restlessness to the fidgety handling. On the one hand, this is due to the steering: If it thinks it has to react so poisonously, it shouldn't feel so bulky afterwards and should also have more precision. Above all, the Mustang reacts to load changes with a tail swing, the beastiness of which you could perhaps forgive a mid-engine athlete. For a family electric SUV, this vote seems downright frightening.Especially since the whole third does nothing for the driving dynamics: In slalom and double lane changes, even the Ioniq 5, which is set up like a sofa, is much faster.
Then we would still have the most relentless, poorly controlled brakes, the highest price and therefore - as with the Tesla - the lower purchase premium and the highest charging losses (10 kWh with a full charge, with the Ioniq and EV6 it is 4 kWh, with the Y 6 kWh). But will the Mach-E still be able to compete for victory because of the best range of 327 km?
Kia EV6: Starship Enterprise
No, it won't. With that we may have robbed the tension. But, friends, after three minutes in the EV6 it's already clear that it's in a different league, almost a different era. It's not just about advantages like fast DC charging with 800 volt technology and 240 kW maximum charging power. It stores energy for 150 km within eleven minutes, which puts even the short test range of 285 km into perspective in everyday use. The fact that it takes so much longer on the 22 kW wall box than the Ioniq 5, which is technically largely similar but not identical, is not due to the 4 kWh larger lithium-ion battery, but to a different charging strategy. The Kia ramps up the charging strength just as quickly as the Hyundai and keeps it constant for almost as long – but only almost. Because for the last kilowatt hour, it lowers it so much that it takes another two hours before the charging process is complete.
While you might not want to lounge around for nine hours in optional reclining seats (not in the test car, but like those in the Ioniq 5), the wait can be glossed over as an extension of anticipation. Because the EV6 is not a Stromer that allows weaknesses to be argued away with "But it drives electrically" (yes, exactly, you are meant, Mercedes EQC), but a great car that drives electrically. Here, too, the powerful drive of two synchronous machines gives the enthusiasm a considerable boost - with 239 kW and 605 Nm even with a measly 2.1 tons curb weight.
Kia has rigged the chassis for dynamics, but it hasn't overdone it. Yes, the EV6 rolls off harshly, springs tight. But only with really nasty short bumps does it rumble and bolt. Even more important compared to the Ford: despite all its agility, the Kia always remains reliable. The steering is sleek, but not exaggerated, offers target-oriented precision and understandable feedback. That it feels more agile than the Ioniq 5 despite similar driving dynamics values? Well, it's above all a feeling that also results from the slightly lower, clearly more integrated position on the long-distance, comfortable seats with intensive support.
The fact that the EV6 and Ioniq 5 use the same starting platform but interpret it differently is only evident in the details of the intuitive operation: Both use a well-sorted mixture of direct keys and touchscreen menus, with which even the large range of functions can be managed. The differences in body and interior design are more striking. The 5.5 cm flatter EV6 accommodates its passengers less spaciously, is furnished a little more simply and less variably - which hardly detracts from the stylish impression.
What else could reduce the chances of winning the very safe EV6, which is well assisted except for the encroaching lane guide? Well, it consumes more than the Ioniq 5 (28.4 to 27.0 kWh/100 km), does not brake that well, costs no less after adjusting for equipment and also has a rather low payload. So can he pack up now?
Hyundai Ioniq 5: back to the future
One tends to underestimate the Ioniq 5. First of all formal. If it is not in the photos next to another car/a charging/advertising column (named after Ernst Litfaß, who invented the advertising column in 1854), one takes it for a compact car in this Golf-single angularity. He is a stately car, accommodates five adults and their luggage in ample space. It increases the comfort of the journey with the multi-adjustable rear seat and the front armchairs, which can be folded down into snuggly loungers - for example to snooze on a charging break. Yes, even in this somewhat sanitary beige, the interior not only makes a solid, but always casual impression – you don't even need the magnetic pin board to the left of the instrument display.
There and in the projection head-up, the Ioniq 5 shows the same values as the EV6, but in a slightly adapted style. It doesn't change the ease of use. This also runs smoothly with the combination of real buttons, levers and switches as well as the touchscreen. Dealing with the voice control, however, brings you at best to a philosophical question. Which of the two problems that occur between the voice assistant and the driver may be better: the misunderstanding or the lack of understanding.
The Hyundai has this detail in common with the Kia as well as the big picture. The Ioniq modulates the expansion of the group's global platform for e-cars somewhat differently. Here, too, there is a synchronous machine on each of the axes that are further apart. Together they bring it with 225 kW to 14 kW less than in the EV6 - also with 605 Nm. Hyundai puzzles a lithium-ion battery with 73 kWh between the axles, which can charge with a maximum of 220 instead of 240 kW direct current.
However, the differences do not have a significant impact.The Ioniq accelerates just a little less massively, but has a slightly lower consumption of 27.0 kWh/100 km, which in turn ensures that it also has enough energy stored for 150 km within eleven minutes. Since he manages to do it so quickly, why doesn't the navigation system take such short stops into account when calculating the route?
Other questions raised by the Ioniq? Well, there we have only: How can the payload be limited to a rather modest 435 kg for a 2.1 ton electric banger? Why does active lane guidance have to constantly seize the authority to set guidelines without mastering them afterwards? And why does the suspension set-up have to be so hard?
Although we at least have an inkling of the answer to the last question: The raised Ioniq has the body movements firmly under control and a dexterity in handling that you wouldn't expect at all. Although positioned only 2.5 cm higher than in the Kia, you feel lifted up in the lounge chairs at the front as you do on the panorama deck - with the best view thanks to the large windows and steep roof pillars. But then you step boldly on the accelerator pedal, and from the panorama ahead, a curve rushes towards the car. Lord, is that going well? Best of all, because despite its cuboid shape, the Ioniq 5 bends seamlessly, with good grip and resolutely. Its steering is also characterized firstly, secondly and thirdly by reliability, only fourthly, fifthly and sixthly by precision, feedback and directness. But the tuning goes well with the safe, long neutral handling and only minimal rear-end interaction with rough load changes. The rear also pushes when accelerating out – of course, when the more powerful engine starts to flow at the back.
This is how the Hyundai drives unexpectedly agile, but at the same time soberingly uncomfortable. That's right, in this lap he's still the most accommodating, absorbs short bumps more carefully, and lets the catapults be on long ones. But you expect more cosiness from a car that is set up like one of those cocktail lounges, where three-tone relaxation music bubbles out of the speakers and entire bachelor parties can disappear for several days in fluffy giant beanbags. Well, on the other hand, one would not have expected that such a car could brake so violently.
What else can the Hyundai do? Like the Kia clever, multi-stage or automatic recuperation and cleverly build up its price list that the two engines and more power run as extras, which secures the full 9570 euros premium for each version. So the Ioniq 5 gets a clear victory here and proves that you can't overestimate the underestimated.
A special, particularly good e-car: efficient, yet powerful, agile but most comfortable here, spacious but not bulky, expensive but with lots of equipment, long guarantees.
The variation of the particularly good: not quite as spacious and efficient as the Ioniq, but faster and with better handling. Great comfort, like the tight payload of the Hyundai
A car of the extremes: Brilliant in terms of drive efficiency and vehemence, at the forefront in terms of space and driving behavior, unacceptable in terms of operation, quality and comfort for the price.
Being electric, strong and with a long range - that's no longer enough. The bumpy, uncomfortable Mach-E is too fidgety and less efficient, and it costs the most.