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Car reviews - Hyundai - Ioniq 5 - N


We like
Physics warping performance and dynamics, impressive wet-weather grip, massively improved driving position, detailed level of personalisation for driver and road types
Room for improvement
Legacy EV charging and weight issues, price over standard range, driving range falls expectedly behind regular models, may (but shouldn’t) lack the ‘cred’ of other performance EVs

Hyundai Ioniq 5 N resets the benchmark for electric performance car driveability

8 Mar 2024



HYUNDAI has officially released its fastest, and dearest model ever into Australian dealerships this month. The Ioniq 5 N – a high performance version of the regular Ioniq 5 – is now available priced from $111,000 plus on-road costs, a $27K hike over the derivative model.


Headlining the announcement is the Ioniq 5 N’s powerplant, which, like the related Kia EV6 GT, comprises dual electric motors outputting 448kW and 740Nm in Normal mode and 478kW and 770Nm in N Grin Boost configuration.


The latter will rocket the Ioniq 5 N from scratch to 100km/h in just 3.4 seconds on its way to a v-max of 260km/h.


Electrons are contained in a high-density 84kWh battery pack to offer as much as 448km driving range (WLTP).


In ensuring the 2230kg hatch maintains contact with the black-top, Hyundai has equipped the Ioniq 5 N with three-mode adaptive shock absorbers, a rear-axle eLSD, grade-specific EPAS tuning, upgraded battery and brake coolers, a larger e-motor oil cooler, and a stiffened body.


That body is 80mm longer, 50mm wider and 20mm longer than the model on which the Ioniq 5 N is based, the sporty EV riding on model-specific forged 21-inch alloys and halted by 400mm front / 360mm discs. Hyundai quotes a stopping distance of 40.2m from 100km/h and says 0.6G of deceleration can be provided from the regenerative braking system alone.


Other electronic trickery includes switchable N e-Shift software which simulates the sensation of an automatic transmission on up and down shifts, N Active Sound+ to emit a trio of synthesised motor noises, 11-stage front-to-rear N Torque Distribution, N Launch Control, N Drift Optimiser, Torque Drift Kick, and N Road Sense, the latter prompting drivers to activate N Mode on winding roads.


For the track, additional wizardry includes Sprint and Endurance settings, and a Drag mode which optimises the battery for shorter bursts of acceleration.


All are accessed via N specific drive modes on the Ioniq 5 N’s expansive infotainment / instrumentation screens.


As is the case in other Hyundai models, HMCA has worked on ensuring the Ioniq 5 N’s ride and handling balance is as at home on local roads as it is on the racetrack.


The team worked closely with colleagues in Europe, South Korea, and the United States to ensure the calibration of the arrangement works at home, with changes made to Normal and Sport modes.


Inside the cabin, the Ioniq 5 N offers model-specific front seats that sit 19mm lower than the regular model, feature manual adjustment through the normal ranges, and are equipped with heating and ventilation. The upholstery is a combination of leather and Alcantara suede, both in black.


The centre console is unique to the variant and features thigh supports for driver and passenger. The pedals are finished in brushed metal, as are the sill covers. As is de rigueur for other N cars, the cabin also features flourishes of Performance Blue garnishing.


On the outside, we find the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N offered in a choice of six gloss and four matte finishes. Gloss hues include Abyss Black, Atlas White, Cyber Grey Metallic, Ecotronic Grey, Performance Blue, and Soultronic Orange, while matte shades include Atlas White, Ecotronic Grey, Gravity Gold, and Performance Blue. Matte paint attracts a $1000 price premium.


The only other remaining option for the Ioniq 5 N is a panoramic ‘Vision Roof’ priced at $2000.


Driving Impressions


Considering the relatively short time in which electric vehicles have been available to the mass market, it is surprising how many of us have formed an opinion on their worth – for better or worse.


The divide seems to go something like: “I really love them and would consider buying one” to “I might get one when the range and charging infrastructure improves”, or “Not over my dead body”.


It’s a fascinating trichotomy that shows perhaps the immaturity of the electric vehicle market, and perhaps that of the Aussie buying public.


But, and for the most part, those of us who’ve driven EVs week-in and week-out for a living have to say we agree with the latter two camps. EVs are expensive, time-consuming to recharge, dynamically inept, and notoriously heavy.


Spoiler alert: the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is all but three of those things.


Looking at most so-called performance EVs we typically find a car that is a one-trick pony: Fast in a straight line, but slow to turn and even slower to stop. Yes, they’ll redefine most people’s definition of ‘quick’, but for most of us who enjoy our driving, the reply to that claim is an enthusiastic ‘so what’.


As Hyundai rightly pointed out in developing the Ioniq 5 N, so much of what we enjoy about performance driving is the feeling it returns. The smiles-per-mile factor is something many in ‘EV land’ have failed to deliver upon, miserably, leaving most EVs feeling like little short of a transport appliance.


Like other N models you can dial up or down the level of aggression offered from just about every component – including the ‘exhaust’ noise, which sounds remarkably like an i30 N. It helps prompt braking and turn-in points and works with the regenerative braking system to provide ‘transmission braking’ as you approach corner entry.


Further, with that ability to ‘shift’ like a dual-clutch transmission built right into the driveline, the Ioniq 5 N feels remarkably familiar, and is far easier to adapt to than those with just one, long, linear line of torque.


According to HMC executive technical director Albert Biermann, the Ioniq 5 N was also designed with track use in mind. It was built around the premise that it should be capable of driving hard for 20 minutes, then charged for 20 minutes, and so on. It’s an ideal receipt for club-level track days – which we might add are still covered by Hyundai’s factory warranty.


On track – and a few select winding roads north of Sydney – it is evident that for all its dynamic trickery, the Ioniq 5 N is still a heavy beast. That’s not to say, however, that it is cumbersome or awkward, just that there comes a limit to how far you can push; even if that limit is far later than you might expect.


For what is an essentially all-by-wire vehicle, the feedback is quite natural. The steering gives you a sense of load as you push through corners, while the braking is metered and strong. Trail the brakes into a corner and aim the nose where you want to go and it’s as simple as feeding on the throttle – and hanging on.


The Ioniq 5 N rushes from the corner with urgency and is playful in showing a little ‘slip angle’. Shift the drive rearward, and the back tyres will turn to smoke in a heartbeat. Leave the system level, and it pulls strongly at the horizon, rapidly hauling from 80km/h to 180km/h and beyond in what seems like the blink of an eye.


Our dozen-or-so of laps of Sydney Motorsport Park showed just how easily the Ioniq 5 is to pilot fast, helped in no small part by a revised seating position and conveniently placed leg bolsters. Believe us, you’re going to use them, as there are some big g-force numbers generated.


For a big, SUV-proportioned ‘hatch’ that offers much of the enjoyment we’ve come to love from our ICE-powered favourites, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N enters as a playful, driveable, and wholly enjoyable alternative to the more-clinical EV pack.


A capable performer with an addictive level of interaction it’s a car that grows on you as fast as it accelerates, and one that is sure to change the minds of welded-on ICE car devotees and straight-line electron burners alike.


Personally, I’m about as converted as I’ve ever been. And from someone who campaigns a lightweight track toy, I think that says plenty.


More like this, please, Hyundai!

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