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Performance EVs to remain accessible: Hyundai

Introduction of the Ioniq 5 N underpins Korean brand’s commitment to accessibility

13 Jul 2023

WHEN Hyundai introduced the i30 N back in 2017, it did so with a commitment that the vehicle – and those that followed – would offer performance and handling levels comparable to stalwart rivals, albeit at a reasonable price.


Now, as the South Korean car maker carries the N brand into the electric age, it is again working hard to ensure enthusiast buyers will experience not only the same levels of enjoyment and exhilarating for which the N moniker has come to represent, but at a price point that keeps the model accessible to all.


Speaking to media gathered for an online discussion about the incoming Ioniq 5 N, Hyundai Motor Company vice president and head of N brand and motorsport, Till Wartenberg, said the Ioniq 5 N is not only the fastest and highest performing production car Hyundai has even produced, but one that aims to elevate the brand’s bang-for-buck credo.


“Electrification has transformed our cars, but not our hearts. The Ioniq 5 N electrifies our driving passion like never before (and) carries our three pillars of N performance: corner rascal, racetrack capability, and everyday sports car,” he explained.


“How we accomplish driving fun and emotional experience with a much heavier EV was the biggest challenge. It was driven by many dedicated teams. The Ioniq 5 N had to prove it can carry the three pillars to truly begin and brands electrification.”


Mr Wartenberg reassured N car buyers that future products will remain fun to drive regardless of how they are powered and said the Ioniq 5 N is the “first of many” electrified N models to come – each with the goal of “electrifying enthusiast drivers whose options are otherwise limited”.


The statement signals Hyundai’s intent to remain an accessible brand for buyers, irrespective of a vehicle’s motive power type. The brand is known to be working on several propulsion streams, including those with electric and hydrogen-powered engines.


Speaking on the debut of the Ioniq 5 N, Hyundai Motor Company director of vehicle development at Hyundai’s European Technical Centre (HMETC), Tyrone Johnson, said the model is a passion project for those tasked with creating it and one his team worked to ensure was more than a straight-line special.


“Believe me when I say, this car is fast. But it is also the first EV to truly dedicate itself to the car enthusiast,” he said.


“Like the Ioniq 5 it features a front and rear dual motor configuration with an added ESD on the rear axle. The headline figure many of you have been waiting for is up to 650PS (478kW) in our over boost setting. This results in a 3.4 second acceleration time from zero to 100km/h and a top speed of 260km/h.


“The battery is increased to 84kWh with our fourth-generation battery technology (and) we put an enormous amount of effort into optimising the thermal management of the vehicle – controlling heat directly increases endurance which means more fun.”


Clearly targeting buyers who want their fun on and off of the racetrack, Mr Johnson went on to explain how specific changes in the frontal structure of the ‘N’, alongside stacked radiators and oil chillers, improved heat management to allow drivers “to extract the maximum from each track session”.


He said that the cooling system, combined with intelligent software and a battery preconditioning function, helped drivers to “strategise” the temperature of the battery before driving, ensuring the package is operating within its optimal parameters to deliver peak performance.


“We have two primary modes: Drag mode, which sets the battery temperature to around 30 to 40 degrees Celsius to provide the best performance for short bursts of acceleration; and Track mode, which sets the batteries to the lowest possible temperature, around 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, to create the best margin for driving longer distances,” he explained, saying the difference could offer as much as 10 per cent more range.


“The body-on-white was also reinforced to achieve higher body rigidity and torsional stiffness, which helps many attributes including steering response, suspension performance, stability and so on. We have fitted new motor and battery mounts, and a new steering rack with a higher ratio and enhanced torque response … and completely changed the front and rear geometry with new virtual lower steering pivot.


In addition to the upgraded suspension and steering, Mr Johnson said the Ioniq 5 N will arrive with 21-inch forged aluminium alloys wrapped in 275/35 series Pirelli P Zero tyres, while stopping duties will fall to the largest rotors ever fitted to a Hyundai production car – 400mm at the front and 300mm at the rear.


“The brakes feature upgraded metallurgy and higher friction air-cooled pads – that is perhaps familiar territory to everyone. What is really different with this EV is how we used regenerative braking,” he enthused.


“The idea of regen’ is nothing new, but in the Ioniq 5 N, this feature now provides primary braking force with the hydraulic brakes filling in. In daily driving scenarios, up to 80 or 90 per cent of the braking can come from regen and on the track 40 to 50 per cent. Or to put it another way, in the region of 0.6g deceleration force.


Mr Johnson explained that during track testing, engineers had reported 40 per cent energy recuperation figures, which he believes will set a new target for future high-performance EVs to try and match.


More information on the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N – including Australian pricing – will be announced closer to the vehicle’s local launch.

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