New Hyundai Ioniq 5 RWD 2021 review

The new rear-wheel-drive Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV saves you £6k on the AWD version

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

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This more affordable rear-drive Ioniq 5 has all of the hi-tech strengths of the dual-motor range-topper, but adds extra value for money into the mix. You lose a little performance, but it’s still more than quick enough, has excellent real-world range and blazingly fast charging, while it mixes polarising looks with decent practicality and a roomy cabin. Factor in fantastic infotainment, enough comfort and strong quality inside, and in this spec at this price, it receives top marks.

Hyundai has really stirred things up with its first electric car on a bespoke platform, the Ioniq 5. Indeed, the oversized hatchback made enough of a splash to earn our coveted Car of the Year title. It did so in range-topping Project 45 specification, though – so we’ve been curious to see whether more modest versions have the same appeal. Now’s our chance to find out.

There are seven versions of the Ioniq 5 on offer to UK customers, with a choice of three powertrains. This 73kWh Premium-spec car features a rear-mounted electric motor with 215bhp and 350Nm of torque, which means that it also offers the longest official range of any Ioniq 5, at 300 miles.

This car’s 7.4-second 0-62mph time isn’t as fast as the dual-motor model’s 5.2 seconds, but it does bring a useful saving of just over £6,000 on list price.

In a weird way, that drop in price might well shift perception of the Ioniq 5 from “that’s a lot of money for a Hyundai” (unfair though that is) to “that’s a lot of car and battery for that amount of cash”. And the good news is that rear-drive Ioniq 5s – even those with the smaller battery – still have cutting-edge 800v tech.

Find a fast enough public charger and you can replenish the battery at up to 220kW – so you can go from 10 to 80 per cent in less than 18 minutes. Kia’s forthcoming EV6 aside, nothing else at around this price offers that level of tech.

On the road, this Ioniq 5 feels almost as impressive as the full-blown version. Instant electric-motor punch means that it feels quick from rest, and while it’s only brisk at best beyond that point – losing one motor doesn’t save much weight, so it still weighs more than 1,900kg – it’s perfectly acceptable in most situations. The lack of a front motor means that sheer geography places you further away from any electric whine, too, so if anything it’s more refined.

The chassis set-up is fundamentally the same as before – which is to say it feels inherently stiff and heavy, but that it still does a good job of soaking up low-speed bumps and potholes, and there’s a nice tendency to float along once you’re up to speed. There’s a bit of patter from beneath, but in general it’s a comfortable experience.

In a straight line this is more than acceptable; indeed, it’s refreshingly focused on something other than Nürburgring lap times, we’d argue, and Premium spec’s 19-inch wheels help further with this. In corners, though, the light steering and more relaxed body control mean that the Ioniq 5 requires a second stab at sorting itself out if you start throwing it around.

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The switch to rear-drive also means that you can find yourself scrabbling for traction if you’re particularly violent with the right pedal, but it does require real provocation.

Apart from dropping from 20-inch to 19-inch wheels, Premium spec misses out on such niceties as alloy pedals, electric adjustment on the front passenger seat, leather upholstery, rear privacy glass, a sliding centre console and vehicle-to-load technology, which allows you to run a laptop off a three-pin plug between the rear seats, or even to charge another EV via the car’s Type 2 socket. The last of these elements can be added as a £365 option.

It still feels a special place to be, though, with pleasing fabric upholstery and the same feeling of space, especially in the rear. The widescreen 12.3-inch infotainment system is present, along with a digital instrument panel of the same size. Encased in a white surround, these displays do a fair job of brightening up the cabin, which would be dominated otherwise by (admittedly high-quality) dark plastics.

Boot capacity remains unchanged, at 527 litres. This is achieved through width and length, mostly, because the space itself isn’t particularly tall. You can lower the rear seats to free up a 1,587-litre load bay – and there’s also a useful cubby beneath the floor for cables – but there aren’t any hooks on the walls to secure shopping bags.

Model: Hyundai Ioniq 5 Premium 73kWh RWD
Price: £41,890
Motor/battery: Single motor, 73kWh
Power/torque: 215bhp/350Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Top speed: 115mph
Range: 300 miles
Max charging: 220kW DC (10-80% 18 min)
On sale: Now

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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