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First Drive Review: Hyundai Ioniq 5

  • HYUNDAI IONIQ 5
  • Price range: $79,990 to $112,990
  • Powertrains: Single permanent magnet synchronous motor and 58kWh lithium-ion battery with 125kW/350Nm, 16.7kWh/100km, 384km range, RWD (58kWh 2WD), single permanent magnet synchronous motor and 72.6kWh lithium-ion battery with 160kW/350Nm, 16.8kWh/100km, 481km range, RWD (72kWh 2WD), dual permanent magnet synchronous motors and 72.6kWh lithium-ion battery with 70kW/255Nm front and 160kW/350Nm rear, 17.7 to 19.0kWh/100km, 430 to 460km range, AWD (72kWh AWD, Elite and Limited)
  • Body style: Five door SUV
  • On sale: Now

There have been a few Covid-related false starts, but after a virtual presentation we finally get a bit of hands-on drive time with Hyundai’s all-new electric hero, the Ioniq 5 that packs SUV crossover practicality into retro hatch styling and all-electric running.

Make me an instant expert: what do I need to know?

We finally get our hands on a Hyundai Ioniq 5. And, yes, it was worth the wait.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

We finally get our hands on a Hyundai Ioniq 5. And, yes, it was worth the wait.

The Ioniq 5 is the first of Hyundai’s dedicated EV family under the Ioniq sub-brand, so, of course it is an SUV.

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But is it really? The Ioniq 5 blurs those crossover lines even further by leveraging SUV-style space and practicality in an all-electric form, yet packing it all under styling unashamedly lifted from Hyundai’s (and, indeed, Korea’s) first mass-produced and exported car, the Pony hatchback from 1975. Or, more specifically, the concept coupe from 1974.

Hyundai has gone big on the pixel look with the Ioniq 5’s lights. And it looks great.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Hyundai has gone big on the pixel look with the Ioniq 5’s lights. And it looks great.

And that’s a pretty good design to lift from your past, really, considering the handsome little hatch was inspired by European hatches of the era and designed by the master of all things sharp-edged and wedge-y in the 1970s, Italdesign legend Giorgetto Giugiaro who also penned the DeLorean DMC-12, Lotus Espirit and original Volkswagen Golf.

So, right off the bat, the Ioniq 5 looks amazing. Deceptively simple, yet instantly striking, the shape makes the Ioniq 5 look far smaller in pictures than it actually is – while it looks like a small hatch in pics, it is actually closer in size to a medium SUV.

The Ioniq 5 comes to New Zealand in a range of models, and Hyundai has taken a leaf out of Tesla’s book by offering a single model with a rather expansive range of pricing, with more money getting you more range, more power and AWD, as well as other tech goodies.

The interior quality of the Ioniq 5 is well up there with its European competition.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The interior quality of the Ioniq 5 is well up there with its European competition.

The range starts off with the entry 2WD Ioniq 5 with a 58kWh battery that slips under the Clean Car Discount threshold at $79,990 by virtue of the fact that Hyundai has included on-road costs in the pricing, effectively dropping the price to $71,365.

The entry car is a rear driver and comes standard with a 125kW/350Nm electric motor mounted on the rear axle, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED lights all around, an eight-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, cloth upholstery, wireless phone charging, a proximity key with keyless entry and start, dual zone climate air con, a 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and embedded satellite navigation and a 12.3-inch digital dash display.

It is also healthily stocked with standard safety features, including blind spot monitoring and collusion avoidance, rear cross traffic collision avoidance, lane keep and lane follow assist, adaptive cruise control, high beam assist and seven airbags (including a front seat centre one).

The Ioniq 5 packs a 537 litre boot in all specifications, with the front space being either 57 litres in 2WD models or 24 litres in AWD models.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The Ioniq 5 packs a 537 litre boot in all specifications, with the front space being either 57 litres in 2WD models or 24 litres in AWD models.

The 2WD Ioniq 5 can be optioned with a larger 76.2kWh battery for a further $10,000 ($89,990) or the bigger battery and a dual motor set up $15,000 ($94,990), while the larger battery also bumps up the rear motor’s power to 160kW, while the dual motor set up sets it at 155kW, but adds the 70kW/255Nm front motor.

Next in the line up is the $96,990 72kWh Elite 2WD that gets the same rear-drive powertrain and big battery, but adds a heat pump, 20-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a central LED garnish light to the front, full leather interior trim, an eight-way electrically adjustable passenger’s seat, heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, interior LED ambient lighting, automatic opening door handles and a Bose premium audio system with a subwoofer.

High quality materials abound in the interior, with quite a bit of technology too.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

High quality materials abound in the interior, with quite a bit of technology too.

Then finally there is the top dog – the 72kWh Limited AWD that adds the dual motor set up to Elite spec, as well as a blind spot view monitor, rear parking collision avoidance, remote smart park assist, a surround view monitor, a powered tailgate, a ‘one touch’ lie flat mode for the front seats, seat position memory, ventilated front seats and electric sliding rear seats.

The Limited also comes with a choice of two roof options – the $109,990 version comes with a full-length panoramic sunroof, while the $12,990 version gets the solar roof that can keep the 12-volt battery topped up as well as charge the high-voltage battery.

Oh, and if you are wanting to tow your boat from Auckland to Wellington, every 72kWh model has a braked towing capacity of 1600kgs, while it also supports ultra-fast 400 and 800 volt charging, that at maximum speed will charge it from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 25 minutes.

Where did you drive it?

The Ioniq 5 is the first dedicated EV in Hyundai’s new Ioniq family.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The Ioniq 5 is the first dedicated EV in Hyundai’s new Ioniq family.

Wherever we wanted. Which, given the current Covid situation in Auckland, is somewhat limited to daily driving. Still, we had a 72kWh Elite 2WD for a week, so we got to spend some decent time in it.

The first thing that strikes you about the Ioniq 5 is, of course, its looks. It looks remarkably striking in the metal and, yes, people do stare when the see it. The blue of our car looks fine in photographs, but is far more interesting when it is moving around in different light conditions, which only adds to the stares you get.

The second thing that strikes you is the remarkably high quality materials and superb build quality of every part of it – this genuinely is a $90k-plus car in terms of interior quality, regardless of what is powering it. And, of course, it’s a very sustainable interior as well.

Speaking of what powers it, the initial impression the rear drive 72kWh car gives isn’t one of startling acceleration and dramatic G-forces, rather it delivers its power in a more considered and, well, useful way, gathering pace briskly and efficiently, rather than brutally.

Hyundai used to put covers on their transverse engines that looked like a longitudinal engine, so guess what the cover on the ‘frunk’ cargo space under the Ioniq 5's bonnet looks like?

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Hyundai used to put covers on their transverse engines that looked like a longitudinal engine, so guess what the cover on the ‘frunk’ cargo space under the Ioniq 5’s bonnet looks like?

This continues at open road speeds, with the Ioniq 5 boasting a fat chunk of its torque at all speeds, offing usable and responsive acceleration out of corners and for passing. It is all very pleasant and satisfying, with the Ioniq 5 giving every impression of being a capable and staggeringly competent thing, which it very much is.

Likewise, the Ioniq 5’s steering is accurate and responsive, although largely devoid of any feel, and while you can feel its weight, it is stable and extremely confident through corners, with the RWD version even displaying a tad of tail-wagging playfulness when you really provoke it.

The overall driving experience is one of extremely well-calculated competence, with no real surprises, good or bad. In fact, the only real chink in the Ioniq 5’s armour of capability is the slightly busy and pattery ride at low speeds, which is the sole disappointment of the package. It’s not a huge disappointment, however.

What’s the pick of the range?

The wheels and wheel arches of the Ioniq 5 are designed to look like the aperture in a camera lens because ‘everyone will take photos of it’. Sigh...

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The wheels and wheel arches of the Ioniq 5 are designed to look like the aperture in a camera lens because ‘everyone will take photos of it’. Sigh…

Seeing as we only drove the single model, that is an impossible call to make definitively at this stage, but we would suspect that either this 72kWh 2WD Elite, or the similarly-priced 72kWh AWD that swaps some kit for the dual motor set up, are possibly the sweet spot in the range.

However, the top-spec Limited does get temptingly more kit, while that base car that slips under the Clean Car Discount threshold will also be a very tempting proposition.

The entry model also comes on smaller wheels, which could help out with the slightly fidgety ride at low speeds too.

There is no denying that the Ioniq 5 is a striking car. But an SUV?

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

There is no denying that the Ioniq 5 is a striking car. But an SUV?

Why would I buy it?

Because you want something that looks like it is from a science fiction movie, but without going silly with it. Seriously, the Ioniq 5 looks sensational.

But also because you want something with plenty of practical space that happens to be hugely high quality and very enjoyable to drive. Oh, and possibly because you want an EV.

Why wouldn’t I buy it?.

Because you are waiting for the Kia EV6 which is based on the same underpinnings, but offers up even more bold and striking looks, and a top version that will offer more face-peeling acceleration. Or a Tesla Model Y.

Or because you will have to wait – Hyundai New Zealand is warning customers that you will be in for a wait of potentially up to a year, thanks to both high demand for the Ioniq 5 and, or course, our old friend the global semiconductor shortage.



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