When released later this year, Hyundai’s Ioniq electric car promises responsive handling, peppy drive, and a few miles more range than a 2016 Nissan Leaf.

The EV is one of three Ioniq variants Hyundai is rolling out – the other two being 1) a regular gas-electric hybrid and, 2) a plug-in hybrid – and a Korean media drive by Automotive News revealed some novel features.

Of these, its range may be the most significant feature. Assuming EPA certification, Hyundai engineer Kim Choong said 110 miles is expected from the 28 kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery.

This pack is essentially like the 27-kwh battery that comes in the Soul EV which is rated for 93 miles range.

Nissan has just released its 2016 Leaf with 30-kilowatt-hour versions rated 107 miles by the EPA, and more than 110 miies by the Ioniq could incrementally position Hyundai ahead in its class for the moment.

Of course the 2017 Chevy Bolt promising more than 200 miles range is due at the end of this year also, so unclear is how Hyundai will market and reposition the car if a new benchmark is set by Chevrolet, and later Nissan’s next Leaf and Tesla’s Model 3 which also have promised 200-pluys miles.

Leaving that question for now, Hyundai distinguishes the new Ioniq EV by blocking off the grille with a gunmetal colored shield. It makes the vehicle visually distinctive and airflow is not as necessary with no radiator for an engine in the front fascia to cool.

Another feature emulating what comes on the new Chevy Volt is regenerative braking paddles. There are four levels of regen and the effect can vary from high to low levels of regenerative braking.

A couple more details include “eco routing” navigation and a button pad to serve in lieu of a traditional shifter.

The navigation system relies on algorithms to account for turns traffic signals, turns, and speed limits to let the driver not overly use battery charge.

And, with no perceptive need for an actual shifter for the siomgle-speeder, Hyundai’s button pad allows drivers to tap the forward, reverse, neutral, or park engagement they wish.

Measured performance testing was not done, but a seat-of-the-pants reaction to a short test loop revealed the EV has characteristic low-end torque and feels reasonably quick and satisfying.

Hyundai will launch the car first in Korea in June, and later this year after the Ioniq hybrid is launched in the U.S. Pricing has not been set in this market.

Automotive News