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New Hyundai Ioniq 5 N 2024 review: sets the standard for performance EVs

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 isn’t just fun for an electric car – it’s fun, full stop. It's a statement of intent from the maker’s N division and sets a new standard in the performance-EV world. The fact it’s all bundled into a family-friendly package is an incredible achievement. The ride might yet be a point of contention on British roads, but the driving experience more than makes up for N’s very few foibles.

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You may remember we tested the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N in Korea last year, coming away with the impression this “2.2-tonne elephant” (as Hyundai Motor Group’s executive technical advisor and ex-BMW M boss, Albert Biermann puts it), could indeed dance. 

Now it’s time for the second act, as Hyundai’s travelling N circus arrives in Europe – and we couldn’t resist another go in this hugely powerful, tech-laden family EV. 

Our driving route saw us leave the hustle and bustle of Barcelona city centre via the motorway, onto a few hours of wonderful country roads broken up by incredible switchback mountain passes. We completed proceedings at Parc Castelloli – an amazing, yet unforgiving, circuit. 

The Ioniq 5 N has been compared to a wealth of other performance cars to date. Some suggest it’s not far off an electric Mercedes-AMG A 45 S, while rally legends like the Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru Impreza have also been discussed in the same sentence. It’ll also need to beat our current hot-hatch king – the Honda Civic Type R. Some quite esteemed company, then. 

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Surprisingly, the 577bhp Kia EV6 GT hasn’t been mentioned, despite sharing its platform with the Ioniq 5 N. But if you’ll allow us to touch on the changes Hyundai has made to the standard 5, you’ll soon understand why. 

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First up, there’s an dual-motor layout (223bhp front motor, 378bhp rear motor) – providing a combined 601bhp. This can be upped to 641bhp for 10-second periods using the ‘N Grin Boost’ function, but more on the selection of N-branded gadgetry later. 

To make sure that extra power is transmitted to the tarmac in an effective fashion, there’s a electronic limited slip differential, a wider track with all-new electronically-controlled suspension with revised arms, and bespoke 21-inch wheels wrapped in wide Pirelli P Zero tyres. Helping to provide extra stability, the body has received 42 extra welds, plus subframes and electric-motor mounts have been stiffened too. 

The basic numbers are hugely impressive – 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds (with the launch control activated), and a 162mph top speed.

The new 84kWh battery (which we’ll soon see in the regular Ioniq 5) is cleverly packaged so it doesn’t take up any more room than the old 77kWh unit, although you’ll notice cabin doesn’t feature a flat front floor due to the additional charging and cooling needs. 

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The standard car is pretty eye-catching, but the Ioniq 5 N packs even more visual punch. There are new bumpers with more aggressive air intakes for battery cooling, plus a new diffuser to the rear. A rear spoiler has been added and there are new vents around the beefier wheel arches to help regulate brake temperatures. 

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As a result, the drag coefficient is affected, so range drops from the Ioniq 5’s maximum 315 miles to 280 miles. During city driving we saw efficiency of 3.1 miles per kWh – although this fell to just 2.1mi/kWh once we lent on the N’s prodigious power later on. 

In an urban environment, the N is no harder to drive than the regular Ioniq 5. There are three main modes before you get into the N functions – Eco, Normal and Sport. Keep it in Eco and the N feels mild-mannered with the only notion you’re in something performance-focused coming from the firmer ride, plus the N-branded steering wheel and bucket seats. 

Heading on to the motorway, the N appears to retain the standard car’s everyday usability, but reserve definitive judgement until we see if that stiffened ride can cope with British tarmac. 

Normal mode allows for some of the N’s performance features to shine through, but for the majority of our drive we’re in the car’s Sport setting. The throttle feels progressive, rather than serving a sudden jolt that could upset the balance, and the same can be said of the brakes. You get a reassuring feel and serious stopping power. 

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In a car weighing 2.2 tonnes – remember Biermann’s “elephant that can dance” comment? – we expected significant brake fade, but the clever recuperation system can provide 0.6g of force under regenerative braking, and even 0.2g while ABS is activated – helping to take the pressure off the discs and calipers. 

Somehow, that weight seems well hidden the corners, too. Chuck the N in and you’re met with excellent grip and little in the way of body roll – the fastest Ioniq 5 feels incredibly composed. The weight has to be transmitted somewhere though, and we did feel the tyres squirming around underneath us. The standard set up is geared towards understeer, but the steering feeds back plenty about what the front end is doing, so you can be super precise with your inputs. 

That’s before engaging with the vast array of driving modes, and switching the traction control systems off. We’ve noted N Grin Boost already (best saved for the track), but there’s also N Drift Optimiser, which as you can imagine focuses on generating big skids in controlled environments. But having tried this, we’re not convinced it highlights the N’s best attributes; the rather long 3-metre wheelbase means tight oversteer moments can be tricky and if you fall out of the power band, the electronic limited slip differential fails to ‘virtually’ lock up again. 

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One of the two ‘N’ buttons on the steering wheel activates the car’s N e-Shift function – possibly the most fascinating feature of this car. It’s difficult to convey the impact this new technology has on the driving experience, and at first we were pretty sceptical. But if you’re driving quickly in the Ioniq 5 N, it’s a brilliant aid. 

It works together with the N Sound+ system which provides the option of three different synthetic noises. We kept it in the ‘Ignition’ mode as that was most like a traditional internal-combustion engined car – indeed, we found ‘Evolution’ and ‘Supersonic’ too high-pitched and annoying. The sound itself is pumped into the cabin via eight separate speakers, and there’s a further two speakers on the outside, which are disconnected at standstill. It’s a little flat in tone and sounds gimmicky, but there’s a practical use to them when using the N e-Shift setting. 

The fake gearshifts are set up to mimic the eight-speed gearbox of the automatic i30 N – as is the 6,700rpm ‘redline’. Interestingly if you run it up to this rev limit, it’ll hold its power and speed and provide that classic rev-limit bounce you’d get in a petrol car. The shifts themselves deliver a physical jolt and are instantaneous; you can even downshift to replicate engine braking, with torque limited between each gear for a natural, progressive feel.

It’s incredibly natural, right from the get-go and tricks the brain into thinking there’s more at play than just an electric powertrain. Hyundai is looking into a creating a one-make race series for the Ioniq 5 N, and we only imagine every single driver lobbying to have the e-Shift and the Sound+ system fitted to their car. 

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One small gripe is the paddles that control the manual shifts are the same plastic ones found in the regular Ioniq 5. Given the work that’s gone into the e-Shift system, we’d have liked some sturdier metal paddles instead. 

Arriving at Castelloli we immediately head to the twisty handling circuit. Here, the N quickly inspired confidence, and showed itself to be one of the very easiest cars to drive very quickly – EV or ICE. The straight-line performance is a given, but when you reach a corner the brakes, steering and chassis are all on the same page, and the overall balance is phenomenal. The technological wizardry here can massage your ego, making this a car that feels akin to the limpet-like Nissan GT-R. The 5 N’s weight is noticeable, mainly on corner entry, but a touch of trail-braking helps to shrink that long wheelbase. You’ll find real adjustability available mid-corner, and with traction in ‘ESC Sport’ there’s a slight amount of slip on the exit. Overall, though, it’s gradual process rather than a harsh safety net. Despite the nerdiness of the driving modes and fake engine sounds, the overriding sensation is that the Ioniq 5 N is pure fun – on track and off it. 

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Hyundai says it’s been developed to tackle 20 minutes of track time, followed by 20 minutes of charging, before which it can do 20 more minutes on the track. We saw battery temperatures rise by only five degrees during our time, and the rear-motor coming in marginally hotter than the front, so we believe their claims. What really impressed us were the brakes and their cooling ability – we didn’t come across any brake fade, despite coming into the pits with temperatures over 100 degrees. The same can’t be said of the tyres; the worry we had on the road was more prominent on track so perhaps some Fernando Alonso-style tyre-management should be researched before taking the N for some laps. 

At £65,000, the Ioniq 5 N is an expensive thing, but there are just two optional extras – a panoramic roof and a selection of paint finishes. It’s pretty well-equipped, with the same twin 12.3-inch screens as the standard car with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a wireless smartphone charger, head-up display and a slew of N-branded interior flourishes.

Compared to some rivals, it actually looks excellent value – Kia EV6 GT is only £2,235 cheaper and offers nowhere near the same driving engagement, while a Ford Mustang Mach-E GT is almost £10,000 more. The Tesla Model Y Performance might be £5,010 cheaper and have better range, but it's not at the same level as Hyundai dynamically. 

BMW’s i4 M50 and the Porsche Taycan are worthy alternatives in terms of driver engagement and have plusher cabins, but are significantly more expensive, too.

Model:Hyundai Ioniq 5 N
Price:£65,000
Powertrain:84kWh battery, 2x e-motors
Power/torque:641bhp/740Nm
Transmission:Single-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0-62mph:3.4 seconds
Top speed:161mph
Range:280 miles
Charging:350kW, 10-80% in 18mins
Size (L/W/H):4,715/1,940/1,585mm
On sale:Now
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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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