With Hyundai increasingly pushing the boundaries of design and desirability, what better vehicle to showcase what lies ahead for the brand than the strikingly futuristic, dramatically different and curiously appealing Ioniq 5?
If bravery is an attribute that deserves success, then Hyundai may earn some kind of medal for going out on a limb with the Ioniq 5 – not only because it pushes boundaries for its breadth of EV ability but also because it looks jaw-droppingly hot.
Unlike the other Ioniq in Hyundai’s current line-up – the pleasant but conservative Ioniq sedan that launched in 2018 in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric versions – the Ioniq 5 is a dedicated EV built on bespoke ‘E-GMP’ electric-vehicle architecture to be shared with Kia’s upcoming EV6, the upscale Genesis GV60 and a bunch of future Ioniq models for Hyundai (namely the 2023 Ioniq 6 sedan and 2024 Ioniq 7 large SUV).
Speculation that the Ioniq 5 might also mark the birth of Ioniq as a brand in its own right (like the Hyundai Genesis sedan branching into an entire Genesis range) is merely water-cooler talk for now. But given the Ioniq 5 is such a radical stylistic departure for Hyundai – and a superb piece of automotive design – if this were to happen then what better way to get the ball rolling.
Outwardly, its shape is reportedly inspired by the Giorgetto Giugiaro-designed 1974 Hyundai Pony coupe concept that prefigured the (much less interesting) 1975 Hyundai Pony sedan – Korea’s first home-grown car. But in reality, the superbly proportioned Ioniq 5 brings to mind other Giugiaro gems such as the Lancia Delta Integrale, which is no bad thing!
Speaking of proportion, the Ioniq 5 is probably bigger than you think. In pictures it has a large hatchback look, which is no deception because it’s kinda like a small hatch in overall shape, but super-sized to a 1.5x scale. Parked next to a Mk 8 Golf, for example, the 1890mm-wide Ioniq 5 towers over Volkswagen’s big-selling hatch.
Riding on a vast 3000mm wheelbase (which is 100mm longer than that of the Palisade large SUV) yet measuring only 4635mm overall (15mm shorter than an i30 Sedan), the Ioniq 5 is a true wheel-at-each-corner vehicle that’s both unusually sized and littered with interesting design flourishes such as its intriguing ‘Parametric Pixel’ lighting.
Chasing Cars covered these striking details in ‘7 best features of the Ioniq 5’, as well as the extensive standard specification of the Australian Ioniq 5 launch variant and the current supply-restricted situation for this must-have Hyundai EV.
But what none of those articles could tell you is what the Ioniq 5 is like to drive.
And trust us – you’ll want to know whether this concept-car-for-the-road has the dynamic depth to complement its futuristic style.
Climbing aboard the generously proportioned Ioniq 5 carries a huge degree of anticipation, which isn’t entirely fulfilled on first acquaintance.
That broad stance and the expansive vision through its deep windscreen make it feel strikingly modern but also surprisingly large, and there’s definitely a sense that this is a rather chunky 2100kg car riding on guard-filling 20-inch ‘Parametric Jewel’ alloys.
Wafting home through Sydney’s lumpy Inner West road network, the Ioniq 5 blots bumps with respectable aplomb and certainly feels super-smooth, yet there’s a niggling sense that its suspension might be a bit too soft, or perhaps underdamped when faced with a challenging road.
As it turns out, that’s far from the truth. One of the delights of driving the Ioniq 5 is just how accomplished it is at being handed challenges that are dealt with in a calmly composed manner. Nail a speed bump quickly and it doesn’t bottom out. Attack a scarred road surface at pace and it irons out what’s raging underneath without losing its cool, supported by an impressively subdued level of road noise. This EV is quiet not only because it doesn’t have an internal combustion engine.
Yet it’s twistier roads that unearth the intriguing dynamic talent of the Ioniq 5.
For starters, it doesn’t have adaptive dampers. Instead, it has latest-generation Sachs units that probably deserve a better description than ‘high performance dampers’ because they’re actually quite special in their ability to blend precise body control (of a 2.1-tonne vehicle, which is no easy feat) with a supple, well-controlled ride.
Also providing great dynamic support is the Ioniq 5’s regenerative braking system. Offering multiple levels from zero (which coasts effortlessly but provides almost no regen’) to three (solid regen’ ability) and finally ‘i-pedal’ that proves so effective (and natural!) at regenerative braking that you barely ever touch the left pedal, the Ioniq 5’s dynamics gel beautifully.
Using ‘i-pedal’, as you lift off the accelerator into corners the Ioniq 5 transfers load onto the outside front tyre, helping it bite like trail-braking would in a regular car, as well as transferring load onto the outside rear. And then any slight lifting of the throttle through a corner acts like left-foot braking, nudging even more load onto the outside rear and allowing the Ioniq 5’s complex AWD system to demonstrate its rear-end drive bias, its torque-vectoring smarts and its lightning-fast corner-exit punch.
Combined with keenly accurate (if somewhat lifeless) steering, the Ioniq 5 is actually chuckable in corners – relying on its braking smarts to pin its nose, trim its cornering line and adjust its handling poise. It’s both fluent and fun.
The drive-mode button on the two-spoke steering wheel (‘inspired’ by Porsche, no doubt) offers Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow modes, though you’ll only ever need Normal and Sport. Normal is great pretty much everywhere, though Sport does enhance the rear-drive bias of the AWD system, perk up throttle response (considerably) and weight up the steering nicely, without making it feel viscous.
As for the Ioniq 5’s powertrain, our test car was an AWD version – so far accounting for 75 percent of Australian orders – featuring a 70kW electric motor up front and a 155kW electric motor at the rear, all tied together with a 72.6kWh (usable) lithium-ion battery.
The rear-drive version features a single 160kW electric motor at the rear and the same-size battery as the AWD model. Hyundai claims 0-100km/h in 7.4 seconds compared to 5.2 seconds for the AWD version, and an 80-120km/h rolling acceleration time of 4.7 seconds compared to 3.8 for the AWD.
It’s those figures right there that best illustrate the benefits of the AWD model. With 605Nm to play with, much of it from standstill, the Ioniq 5 AWD is a slingshot out of the blocks. Perhaps Hyundai should quote a 0-60km/h time because this EV is seriously rapid when called upon at low speeds – like igniting a silent firecracker – meaning that anyone who’s flippant enough to question why it takes so long to get to 100km/h should maybe try one before a bitch.
The reduction in performance difference between the two Ioniq 5 powertrains on the move means that anyone chasing maximum range (the rear-driver is 21km better off) isn’t really losing out. But once you’ve experienced the ‘silent assassin’ Ioniq 5 AWD on a twisty road, I reckon you’ll be swayed by its dynamic charms.
As for safety features, the fully stocked Ioniq 5 wants for nothing. Not only does it have the passive-safety threshold well and truly covered – aided by excellent 225/45R20 Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres and 345mm ventilated discs all round – the Ioniq 5 also packs a tonne of active-safety tech.
This includes seven airbags (including a centre-front airbag), AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as AEB for junction turning and crossing, lane-changing, blind-spot, oncoming traffic, and side evasive assist with steering assistance.
There’s also a blind-spot view monitor, driver attention warning, lead-vehicle departure alert, auto high-beam, speed-limit assistance, lane-following and lane-holding assistance, reversing AEB and cross-traffic collision avoidance, safe-exit assistance, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, a 3D surround-view monitor, and front and rear parking sensors.
We’ve previously covered the Ioniq 5’s interior design highlights in detail, though it’s interesting to see how all its razzle-dazzle performs in the real world.
Its architectural interior aesthetic is focused on light tones and pleasing minimalism to convey a sense of distraction-free calm, which largely seems to work – not to mention the proliferation of textures. It trades plush and luxurious for eco-friendly usability.
The twin 12.3-inch dashboard screens are light-coloured instead of black (though you can switch that around in ‘settings’ … and once you go black, you’ll want to go back!) but the instrument graphics are a little overstyled and have big graphics providing little information. Stripped-down simplicity would’ve been better here.
The ‘Relaxion’ front seats are designed to promote some wellness-centre realness – they can be reclined to a ‘zero gravity’ position with optimised weightless posture and body-pressure distribution which is ideal for resting while charging, says Hyundai – and they are indeed impressive.
In the reclined position they’re quite lovely, though not of ‘business class’ standard – this is premium economy baby, and it’s fine! And when erect they’re impressively supportive, with lovely perforated leather and heating/fan-cooling, enhancing what is a great driving position. But the pursuit of minimalism has buried the seat heating/cooling controls in the multimedia screen.
As for the Ioniq 5’s storage smarts, the ‘universal island’ centre console that slides up to 140mm forward and back, and contains the connectivity ports and a lower rubberised shelf well-suited for bags and shoes, is probably a better idea on paper than it is in practice.
There’s little wrong with the storage it offers but the centre armrest (with built-in storage) doesn’t flip up far enough, or flip back for rear-seat passengers. The island itself doesn’t really move that far either, though exposing the fully flat front floor is superb. Pity the only USB slot that connects Apple CarPlay/Android Auto is the one right under the dash, minus any proper phone storage (there’s just a carpeted hole), and the punchy eight-speaker Bose stereo sounds a bit too bright when you really start making volume demands.
The front doors will take one-litre bottles though (finally!) and the glovebox is a really useful 9.4-litre tray big enough for more than just the owner’s manual.
The Ioniq 5’s 60/40-split rear seat can be electrically moved through 135mm of fore-aft travel (with a manual 10-position backrest) and it’s a nice place for two people. First-class legroom and decent seat support and comfort are the stars – not-so-generous foot room, an unyielding centre backrest, and limited headroom for anyone much taller than 6ft (due to housing the electric blind for the vast glass roof) means the Ioniq 5 is, for the most part, best enjoyed up front.
As for boot space, 527 litres is reasonable (I suspect this is measured with the rear seat slid forward), though the floor is quite high – high enough to achieve a fully flat floor with the rear backrests folded. But given the Ioniq 5’s pert exterior proportion, and the likelihood of it being two-plus-two transport much of the time, there’s enough to satisfy a load, plus an electric tailgate.
The Ioniq 5 AWD also has up to 1600kg braked towing capacity, with its clever AWD system sensing there’s something hitched behind and locking its drive split 50/50.
Hyundai says the Ioniq 5 offers “world first patented charging technology”, with ultra-fast 400-volt and 800-volt charging capability, meaning it becomes the first electric vehicle on sale in Australia that can handle a full 350kW ultra-fast charger, lessening its potential recharge time if you can find a compatible charger.
On an ultra-fast 350kW DC charger, the Ioniq 5 takes 17 minutes and 16 seconds to go from 10- to 80-percent charge, while a five-minute ultra-fast charge can boost range by 100km.
A standard AC charge (say, from a home wallbox) takes just over six hours, whereas a charge from a commonly-found 50kW DC public charger takes 61 minutes to charge the AWD to 80 percent.
The WLTP range for the Ioniq 5 AWD is 430km, with a combined consumption figure of 19.0kWh/100km. We managed an indicated 18.9kWh/100km after some pretty spirited driving and 80-90km/h highway cruising, meaning a theoretical range of 383km.
Recommended servicing is every 12 months or 15,000km, with most services capped at $220, and a very reasonable five-year/75,000km service total of $1684.
Hyundai’s warranty is five years/unlimited kilometres, with the lithium-ion battery covered by an eight-year/160,000km warranty.
Given it looks so damn cool and represents such ambition by Hyundai at making a splash in the EV market, the striking Ioniq 5 already deserves kudos. It’s a fantastic-looking design and for many, that alone will be enough.
What makes it even better than that, though, is its layers of ability. This is a quiet, soothing, comfortable EV that also happens to be an unexpectedly rewarding driver’s car with enough performance – as well as overall range and efficiency – to make it a car you’d take for a decent drive just for the hell of it.
Creating an EV with more than just visual personality isn’t an easy thing, yet the Ioniq 5 definitely has it. The more you ask for, the greater its reserves. And the deeper you look, the groovier its textures and design chic.
Its wealth of accommodation may not quite live up to the loungeroom-on-wheels hype but it’s not too far adrift – especially for a couple taking two friends (or kids) away for a fun weekend. And it’s also cheap to service, easy to charge, and did I mention great to look at?
Now, if Hyundai Australia can manage to source much greater supply then the Ioniq 5 might achieve the success it deserves.
Variant tested AWD EXTENDED RANGE EV
Key specs (as tested)
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Hyundai Ioniq 5: 135 new cars for Australia to be sold online on August 10, including cheaper Dynamiq RWD
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