Hyundai Ioniq 5 vs Skoda Enyaq: the best family EV for £40,000?

The Skoda rival, the Ioniq 5, and its new Ioniq 5 – large family cars with 300 mile range – are both trying to make electric motoring affordable to all, but in very different ways, we find.

There are less than a decade before sales of pure internal combustion engines in the UK end and electrification is fully adopted. It seems far away, but it is possible. Although it seems like a long time, almost 10 years is still a lot of time. However, the 2030 date for car manufacturers will be here in just one model cycle. This is automotive terminology for the blink of an eye.

This means that the transition to EVs is happening faster than you might think. Battery-engined cars will seem to go from novelty to necessity in a matter of hours. The most important thing is that these changes are happening at the most affordable end of the market. The headlines have been dominated by hypercars of megawatt, high-end brands, and start-ups that were funded by eccentric entrepreneurs. But now, it’s time for mainstream manufacturers to step in.

Skoda and Hyundai are leading the charge. They recently introduced family-friendly electric vehicles with more than a hint SUV in the form the Enyaq IV and Ioniq 5. They both promise a range of 300 miles and more than 200bhp. In mid-spec versions, they will be around PS40,000. These numbers are impressive, but will they convince budget-conscious family car owners who are plagued by range anxiety to switch to lithium ion power sooner than expected? Let’s see.

Those of us who are worried that an EV future would lead to a more homogeneous approach to engineering will be relieved to know that there is nothing in this paper to allay those fears.

Both models are underpinned by the respective brands’ EV skateboard platform. This platform features a rear-mounted electric engine and a battery pack that is placed low between the axles to ensure optimal weight distribution and packaging. The E-GMP platform will be shared by Hyundai and sibling company Kia for the EV6, while Enyaq will use the Volkswagen Group’s MEB structure, which has been in service in the Volkswagen ID 3 & Audi Q4.

While more expensive models offer a front-mounted motor that can be used for four-wheel drive (more expensive versions have a rear-mounted motor), we prefer rear-drive cars with the longest range battery: a PS41.945 Ioniq5 Premium with 72.6kWh and a PS39.365 Enyaq 80 boasting 77kWh.

So far, so predictable. The Ioniq 5 is a bit more flexible than that. It uses an 800V architecture, similar to the Porsche Taycan’s and Audi E-tron GT, which allows for the fastest and most efficient charging. It is also designed to allow vehicle-to-grid charging. This means that it will be possible to charge your office or home at peak times. It’s very nice.

The Hyundai’s concept car design reflects these advanced extras. With its chiselled edges and distinctive LED light treatment, and pop-out door handles the angular Ioniq 5 more looks like a Tesco staple than set dressing for a Tron remake, the Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 looks more like a Tesco car park staple. The Korean supercar is more popular than any other car, and it shows.

Skoda’s more pragmatic image has led to a lower-key approach for the Enyaq. It shares many cues with its existing lineup. The Czech crossover could be easily mistaken for a conventionally-powered counterpart to the Karoq or Kodiaq by sticking a traditional grille on its nose.

Inside, it’s the same story. There’s a traditional console between the front seats. The layout is simple and conventional. You feel like you could be in any Hyundai model, just as the exterior. The familiar, upmarket fit-and-finish (the Hyundai’s materials feel somewhat inferior, especially the large, featureless plastic doors cards) and the pragmatic approach of the firm to packaging. There is plenty of room for people and their stuff, as well as ample storage space and a 585-litre boot. The Hyundai’s 527-litre baggage bay is smaller due to its steeper rear screen and higher floor. It will still happily take most things a family might throw at it. There’s clever storage for charging cables and smart hidden storage. The rear seat can slide back and forth to make more space for luggage or other items, depending on your priorities.

The Ioniq 5’s flatpack powertrain is more efficient than the Enyaq. The floor is flat and allows for plenty of space. At the front, the absence of a bulky transmission tunnel and large windows combine to create an airy, modern atmosphere that’s more architecturally-oriented than traditional car interiors. Hyundai branding has been removed – possibly to attract logo-obsessed buyers for more premium products.

The details are charming, regardless of the outcome. There’s the glovebox that opens like a drawer, and the TFT screens on the sides that look almost as big as an iPhone. And there’s the cupholders that appear to hover between the seats.

This clever design subterfuge is designed to distract from the generic EV driving experience. You’re familiar with the basics: effortless linear acceleration, low noise levels, and an undercurrent sense of mass caused by bulky batteries that can weigh up to half a tonne. Although it may seem a bit simplistic, if you drive one electric car of the family size, you can easily claim to have driven all of them.

The Skoda and Hyundai are almost interchangeable on the road. This is evident from their first encounter. The sensations of driving are very similar when you engage drive (using the Mercedes-style column mounted controller on the Ioniq 5),

Smart move-off? You can check. Warm-hatch-baiting speed up to 60 mph when the muscular desire begins to tail off Yes. Near-silent power delivery? Yes. How about a Sport mode, which adds hyperactive urgency and throttle response? Of course. Although the Hyundai is the clear winner in terms of all-out urges, the real difference between them is barely noticeable.

You’ll find that each car has its own personality, even if it’s more subtle and hidden than traditional petrol and diesel alternatives. The Enyaq, for example, is not too long and can easily navigate city streets with its sub-10m turning circle. This gives it the agility of a black taxi. The Ioniq 5 responds with one-pedal driving, which allows you to steer almost entirely without the friction brakes. Pulling the left-hand paddle onto the wheel will activate the ‘iPedal’. This provides sufficient braking force to bring you to a halt when you lift the throttle. The Skoda’s ‘B’ mode has decent regenerative retardation. However, it isn’t as efficient as its competitor’s.

The cars ride well at low speeds, with a firm edge. However, the Skoda rides a little stiffer due to its higher-profile tyres providing less cushioning than the Hyundai’s thicker sidewall. Both cars still feel great once you get out of the city. The Enyaq has more suspension noise from the rear, and there is some wind rustle at the A-pillars at motorway speeds. Overall, the Hyundai is easier on the ears. You’ll find some amazing roads, and you will be amazed at the difference.

You’ll find a precise steering and heft when you first take the Hyundai. Although there is no feedback, it is easy to place the Hyundai. The front-end grip feels strong, and as forces build the rear axle can be felt. The Ioniq 5 moves around your hips with an evident sense of agility.

There’s even genuine joy to be had. The Hyundai will tighten its lines nicely when you lift the throttle. If you turn off the traction control, the Ioniq 5 can be encouraged to take a little power oversteering out of tighter turns by switching off the traction control. It’s difficult not to smile at this. Push too hard and the Hyundai will give up on its 1910kg weight. Its body movements become more ragged and its dampers struggle to keep pace. Rapid direction changes can result in some scrappy lurches that way and that.

The Skoda, on the other hand, has greater control at the limit. Any waywardness is reined into by dampers that refuses to become discombobulated under extreme duress. It’s less fun to drive and therefore more likely to lose control. The Enyaq isn’t bad in principle (it’s well-constructed and precise when stringing together a series corners), but it doesn’t encourage reckless driving.

The steering is very light and lifeless. Additionally, the Skoda’s front rubber section (235 section) is narrower than the back rubber section (255 section). This means that the Skoda just washes wide at its limit. The nose may conform to your commands when you reverse, but there is no sense of adjustability or visceral indications that the car is being pulled or pushed by the drivetrain. This is what engineers from Czech were hoping for, considering the clientele.

For punters considering a change in motive power, it is more interesting to see how far each car can travel on a single charge. The thorny topic of range is here. How can we get to an EV test without having to broach it? It won’t be an issue for most people, and it shouldn’t matter for the majority of them. If you have a wallbox that can charge your car at home (which is the case, and you should not be considering buying an electric vehicle if this isn’t possible), then you will be able to travel most distances without ever having to use the public charging network. This is, in my opinion, a good thing.

Skoda’s claims of 331 mile range in lithium ion batteries is true, but it’s not enough. Both will provide a real-world range well beyond 200 miles with an optimum charge of 80%.

Our Skoda drove from Leeds to Birmingham, and I drove the Hyundai from Hertfordshire. We stopped for a quick DC splash and run, which left us with about 100 miles in reserve after we returned to our homes at the end. It was more difficult than an ICE car, but it wasn’t by much. We could have completed the 200-mile hop without stopping if we had better planning.

The Enyaq is actually a bit more resilient, with a distance to empty figure that is less affected by sudden accelerations, air-conditioning usage, and driver mode. The Hyundai is able to charge at 80% in just 20 minutes if it can find the right charger, while the Skoda charges at 50kW maximum. An additional PS440 will get you a 125kW upgrade, which reduces that charging time to under 40 minutes.

Both are reliable and useful EVs that will let most people ditch their old piston-engined cars without any significant changes in driving habits or backward glances. But which one wins?

The Enyaq has earned our respect. It’s currently the most persuasive of all the VW MEB siblings. Although it’s not the most exciting car to see or to sit in, its familiarity makes it an easier proposition for those who are still undecided about whether they will switch to fast charging over fossil fuels. Although it’s an intelligent choice and a good value, it does not feel like a car that is durable.

The Ioniq 5 is the perfect EV for those who want more power. It looks great and the interior makes excellent use of the electric car’s packaging options. The 800V capability also helps to justify the price premium. You will also find genuine entertainment behind the Hyundai’s wheel. It’s also filled with enough personality to assure those addicted to hydrocarbons that the future doesn’t seem bleak.

Hyundai Ioniq Premium 73kWh RWD, FOUR STARS

Price PS41,945 Motor Permanent magnet synchronous motor Torque 258lb/ft Gearbox 1-speed auto Kerb weight 1910kg Top speed 115mph (0-62mph 7.3sec) Battery 73/72.6kWh (total/usable), Range 298 Miles CO2, Tax band 0g/km

Skoda Enyaq iV 80 – FOUR STARS

Price: PS39,365 Engine Permanent magnetsynchronous motor Power 215bhp Torque ft. Gearbox 1-speed auto Kerb weight 2032kg 0-62mph 8.2sec Top speed of 99mph. Battery 82/77kWh (total/usable), Range 331 miles CO2, Tax band 0g/km.

Is the charging network catching up?

As we’ve seen many times, the UK’s charging infrastructure continues to fall behind the cars it was designed to serve. Shell recently announced it will add 50,000 street chargers by 2025. Tesla plans to make its Superchargers, which are well-served, available to all EVs within the next few months.

This is all good news but it doesn’t make a difference in the present. Electric car owners are still at the mercy of an underserved grid, which can be unpredictable and unreliable. We tried to charge our car at Beaconsfield Services along the M40 but found that two of four Ionity chargers had stopped working. The remaining chargers worked, but it was expensive at 69p per kWh. This is comparable to petrol or diesel, which costs PS28 for just 150 miles. Despite numerous false starts, three of the four Gridserve 50kW (30p/kWh) units failed to provide electricity. The fourth unit appeared to be free…

But, battery technology is rapidly evolving, meaning that range is increasing. Home charging can allow you to leave your house every day with enough power. We might find ourselves relying less on public chargers than we realize.