► CAR drives Hyundai's Ioniq 5
► Spaceship looks, flexible powertrain
► This should be on your EV shortlist
Speak softly and carry a big stick. Hyundai must be chanting that daily, as it's become a quiet pioneer of family-friendly EVs. But the original Ioniq and Kona Electric were the first salvo; Hyundai's smacked us across the face with this: the Ioniq 5.
It's the first car as part of a new Ioniq sub-brand for Hyundai and boy, oh boy, is it a fantastic start. We've driven a proper production-spec one after our first test of a prototype earlier in 2021.
What a looker!
Hyundai says the look has been inspired by the Pony Coupe of the 70s but, unlike so many car brands looking to its past to guide its future, design-wise, this is no slavish pastiche. It's an eye-popping piece of design, shaped as a family hatch, with pixelated lighting front and rear and super-crisp lines.
Interestingly, though, the Ioniq 5's dimensions are much larger than you think. This design masterstroke actually hides the car's size: it's actually longer than a VW ID.4 both physically and in terms of its wheelbase and about 40mm taller than a Jaguar i-Pace.
Speaking of the i-Pace and ID range, we conveniently managed to park next to Jag's EV and an ID.3 during our first test – both look instantly dated compared to this.
Inside, the cockpit takes full advantage of the e-GMP platform that lies underneath. A flat floor means no fixed centre tunnel, with a movable centre console that provides cupholders, cubbies and a wireless phone charger. You're also greeted by thick padded seats, two massive screens and a kitsch two-spoke wheel like a Honda E.
But Hyundai hasn't gone overtly techy in the 5's interior design like Mercedes, or ultra-minimalist like a Tesla Model 3 – there's a balance between large, useful screens, touch panels and physical switchgear and solid materials on all your regular touch points. The shift stalk, for example, is on the steering column, with a chunky twist action and the door inlays – complete with eco-friendly paper inserts – all feel solid with a tactile thunk when you pull the door handles.
Space is impressive, too. The cabin itself feels huge once you're inside, with loads of room for rear passengers, too. The rear bench can slide forward and back and, even with a 6ft 2in driver like myself at the wheel, there's tonnes of legroom. The boot, however, is rather shallow, but has depth end to end, and properly usable width. You don't even need to store your cables here – there's a handy storage box under the bonnet for that.
Any clever technology on the Ioniq 5?
Let's start with the platform. The new e-GMP architecture will underpin every new Ioniq sub-brand model from Hyundai (along with new EVs from Kia and Genesis). Rear- and all-wheel drive powertrains are offered, with the Ioniq 5 giving you a choice of a standard range 58kWh or long-range 72.6kWh battery packs.
It's also as clever as a Taycan, allowing for both 400 or 800-volt charging, meaning (on the fastest available 350kW chargers, of course) the ability to zap from 10 to 80 per cent charge in just 18 minutes. Hyundai claims 296 miles in the Ioniq's thriftiest setting (larger battery, rear-wheel drive), but you can expect an ID.3 rivalling 260-plus from the all-wheel drive variant.
Then there's all the available tech on board. Along with Level 2.5 semi-autonomous driving tech, you can have Hyundai's Blind Spot View Monitor (that shows you the view of the door mirror camera when you flick the indicator), an augmented-reality head-up display and front seats that recline with leg supports like a living room La-Z-Boy.
Hyundai's Blind Spot View Monitor: does it work?
There's also the 'V2L Pack'. V2L stands for 'vehicle to load' – in the 5's case, it gives you the ability to use the car as a rolling power bank, allowing you to plug in (via an adaptor on the charging port plug) almost anything externally, like a lawn mower, e-scooter or even another EV. There's also a three-pin socket under the rear seats as part of the pack.
There are three trims: SE Connect starting from £36,995, Premium clocking from £39,295 and Ultimate available from £42,295. When the Ioniq 5 was first available to order, there was also a Project 45 first edition that featured a solar panel roof, too, but that's since sold out.
Let's drive it!
Walk on up to it and flush doorhandles pop out, ready for the drive ahead. Given the front seat's reclining nature, the whole seat angles backward if you want thigh support – rather than just the front end of the base – and the wheel adjusts for plentiful reach and rake.
Once you're rolling, the 5's interesting details don't instantly reveal themselves – it feels entirely standard fare for a family EV – quiet, inoffensive and smooth when you're nipping around town. And properly quick, just like an EV with so much torque should be; Eco mode dulls the throttle while, at the other end of the drive mode scale, the dials glare red in Sport and the throttle response is incredible. And this simply won't be the most powerful version of the E-GMP platform, either. Kia, for example, has already shown off a supercar-baiting EV6 GT, and senior members of Hyundai's management have all but confirmed an Ioniq 5 N.
Then you start to notice the finer points after the miles roll on.
The steering, for example, is live-wire alert and well-weighted – no dead-spots off-centre and tremendously fluid when you wind the lock off after a turn. The turning circle is tight, too; not London Taxi or Honda E tight, but not far off. Then there's the brakes. It's almost an expectation for an electric car to have a soggy brake pedal and inconsistent feel when you apply some pressure due to regenerative braking (of which Hyundai has four steps, plus a one-pedal mode), but not here. Plenty of solid, accurate feel regardless of regeneration level.
You can really have fun with this car on a back road – something not often said this side of a Taycan. Adding up the whumping torque, sharp steering and feelsome brakes is already plenty good enough, but there's real balance to the chassis, too. This doesn't feel leaden or recalcitrant when you want some zippy thrills going the fun way home. Yes, there's a touch of body roll, but the way the suspension handles the Ioniq's weight is really something to be commended – it's a hoot.
Tyre noise is well within an acceptable level and wind noise is minor. Couple this with balanced ride quality – not too jittery, but not water bed wallowy either – and it's a very promising position to be in.
Hyundai Ioniq 5: verdict
What an impressive car.
The Ioniq 5 brings such breadth of ability that other electric family cars can only dream of. It's an absolute show-stopper to look at, it has a thoroughly usable and appealing interior brimming with technology and neat tricks, it's quick and its handling treads a fine balance between sporty and comfortable. We'd recommend a Premium-spec one with the 72kWh battery pack for the most range and a long equipment list.
No matter what other EV you're looking at buying for similar money, consider the Ioniq 5 first. We promise you won't be disappointed.
Specs are for an Ioniq 5 Ultimate 72kWh AWD
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