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New Hyundai Ioniq 5 N 2024 review: a sensational performance EV

The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is a stunning electric car, offering sensational performance wrapped up in a family-friendly package

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

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Verdict

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is the first hot EV to prove that an electric powertrain doesn’t prevent a car from being truly great to drive. The chassis pulls off the trick of being as exciting as it is compliant, which allows you to exploit its devastating pace more of the time. Best of all, it does what all good performance cars should: make you grin from ear to ear. And the Ioniq 5 N really nails that brief – not only more than any other electric car we’ve driven, but more than lots of conventional petrol-powered performance machinery, too. 

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Following a first encounter in South Korea and a second in Spain, it’s finally time to sample Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 N on UK roads. And now the wait is over, our findings on those first two meetings have been confirmed: it’s a staggeringly good performance car

For two different groups of car people, that will almost certainly come as quite a surprise. The first is those who have already driven the standard Ioniq 5. It’s an excellent car in its own right – one with the talent to be crowned our Car of the Year in 2021 – but while it’s a spacious, efficient and relaxing EV, sharp driving dynamics have never been a stand-out feature. 

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To address this, Hyundai’s N division has made fundamental changes under the skin. That striking body, enhanced by a dramatic front bumper, deep side skirts and an enlarged rear diffuser, is welded in 42 extra places and bonded by a further 2.1 metres of adhesive to improve rigidity, while the battery and motor mounts, subframes, and steering column are beefed-up, too. Know-how borrowed from Hyundai’s World Rally team delivers stronger and lighter axles, which helps to improve unsprung mass alongside forged 21-inch forged wheels.

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One motor drives each axle to produce a combined 641bhp and 740Nm. Improved battery management software and motor cooling keep the powertrain working at its maximum.

As such, performance is incredible. The 0-62mph dash is dispatched in 3.4 seconds, grip is astonishing, and body control superbly tied down. On a twisty road, there’s little else that will keep up. It’s a completely different beast from the standard car.

The second surprised group, the petrolheads, will need further convincing. It’s easy to become cynical about fast EVs when so many are one-trick ponies – rapid in a straight line, grippy through corners, but lacking in any sort of feel or personality and weighing too much to be fun. 

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Yes, the Ioniq 5 N is heavy, but at 2,235kg, it’s about the same weight as the outgoing Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT. And much like that car, the Ioniq 5 manages to behave like a car that weighs half a tonne less. An e-LSD on the rear axle, and a fully variable torque distribution between the front and rear axles, helps to pull the car both in and out of a corner.

There’s genuine adjustability both on and off the throttle thanks to a superbly balanced chassis, too. You can use that mass to alter its behaviour, or encourage some wheel slip on corner exit thanks to the powertrain’s rearward balance. We’d like a little feedback from the steering, but at least it’s quick and precise.

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We had reservations about the ride on the N’s international launch, but we needn’t have worried. Over big bumps it’s more forgiving than not just performance EVs like the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, but also full-bore super saloons like the BMW M3

Intricate adaptive dampers enable this initial softness, by controlling the weight superbly. The softest of the three settings worked best, allowing the chassis to breathe across a challenging road rather than crashing from one bump to the next, with minimal compromise in body control. Even in the firmest of the three modes it’s, at worst, a little fidgety. 

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Along with the suspension settings, the motor, steering, e-LSD and stability control can all be tailored to suit your preferences, and then programmed onto shortcut buttons on the striking new steering wheel.

But the efforts to instil a bit of personality don’t end there, because Hyundai has come up with the novel idea of introducing a mode which simulates an eight-speed paddle-shift gearbox. 

While we were dubious about how well this could work, it took very little time for it to feel completely natural. The torque delivery and response backed up by a noise which mimics one of the brand’s hot hatches is convincing enough that it soon becomes second nature.

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You can choose two other sounds if a turbo four-pot is a bit pedestrian for your tastes. One pipes the sound of Hyundai’s Vision GT concept car through the speakers, while the other copies a jet engine. Both very silly, but it’s hard to not giggle when they’re on. 

And that's the key thing about the Ioniq 5 N: it’s a performance car that'll make you smile. Whether it’s the uncanny chassis sophistication and adjustability, its straight line performance, or just the hint of a sense of humour you can find that seems to flow through pretty much each aspect of the car.

Downsides? Well aside from the steering, the only thing we’d change is the driving position. The N’s cabin features a fabulous set of sports seats; they look great and are supportive, but seats like these work best when they’re almost level with the pedals. Here, they need to be lower – or the pedals slightly higher.

The Ioniq 5 N costs £65,000. That’s £2,040 less than the Mustang Mach-E GT, and the Hyundai blows that car out of the water when it comes to excitement and involvement. With enthusiastic driving, real-world range works out at roughly 200 miles, and you can top back up at a near-industry leading 220kW; a 10-80 per cent charge takes just 18 minutes.

Model:Hyundai Ioniq 5 N
Price:£65,000
Powertrain:2x e-motors, 84kWh battery
Power/torque:641bhp/740Nm
Transmission:Single speed, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:3.4 seconds
Top speed:161 mph
Range:278 miles
Charging:220kW 10-80% in 18 mins
Size (L/W/H):4,715/1,940/1,585mm
On sale:Now
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Chief reviewer

Alex joined Auto Express as staff writer in early 2018, helping out with news, drives, features, and the occasional sports report. His current role of Chief reviewer sees him head up our road test team, which gives readers the full lowdown on our comparison tests.

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