Hyundai Ioniq 5 N: electric hot hatch prototype driven
The first electric car to wear Hyundai’s N performance badge is to get a 600bhp dual-motor powertrain – and we’ve driven it
A high-performance version of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is just over the horizon – and we’ve already got behind the wheel of a pre-production prototype. Set to be fully revealed at this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N will be the first electric car from the South Korean brand’s ‘N’ division and, like other hot Hyundais, has been rigorously tested at the famous Nurburgring racetrack.
The Ioniq 5 N is yet to be seen without heavy camouflage; the car we drove sported a special livery in order to conceal the electric N car’s final design. What we can ascertain at this stage, however, is that the Ioniq 5’s signature pixel LED headlights have now been paired with a more aggressive front bumper and additional air intakes – crucial for cooling the electric hot hatch’s powerful electric motors and battery.
Peel away the camo wrap and it’s almost certain the Ioniq 5 N will sport the same Performance Blue paintwork as its petrol-powered siblings, the i20 N and i30 N. Our spy shots also confirm the Ioniq 5 N is wider and sits lower than the regular car, and will ride on a set of larger, wider alloy wheels, too.
During our drive, even the interior of the Ioniq 5 N was heavily under wraps. Regardless, we expect it’ll receive deep sport seats, a new steering wheel and more exuberant graphics on the digital driver’s display.
Hyundai remains tight-lipped regarding the technical details of its new electric hot hatch, however, it has revealed the Ioniq 5 N will share its powertrain with its sister car, the Kia EV6 GT.
The EV6 GT utilises a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup producing 577bhp, and is capable of 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds. We expect the Ioniq 5 N to up the ante, though, possibly with over 600bhp from its all-wheel drive powertrain. The Hyundai is also set to improve on the Kia’s 77.4kWh battery capacity, meaning it should easily be able to match – or beat – the EV6’s 265-mile range figure, too.
Unlike the EV6 GT which is pitched as a comfortable ‘grand tourer’, the Ioniq 5 N stays true to other performance cars from Namyang, South Korea, by being tuned specifically for fast road and track day use. The Hyundai features 400mm front brakes, as opposed to the EV6’s 380mm discs, and boasts an array of unique track-focused features.
For example, while many EVs have a ‘battery preheating’ function to prepare for charging, the Ioniq 5 N gets a ‘battery cooling’ feature in order to keep the components from overheating during sustained hard driving. Putting the car into ‘N-Durance’ mode caps peak power in order to preserve charge, and uses the regenerative braking function to not only aid stoppage under hard braking, but also inject more juice back into the battery.
A unique idea taken straight from the Hyundai RN22e concept car, the Ioniq 5 N features ‘N Sound+’, which is a system that pumps one of three artificial sounds into the cabin, like the e-ASD system that debuted in the Ioniq 6. It also gets ‘N e-shift’, which is designed to mimic the feeling of gearchanges in a traditional petrol car.
So, what’s the result of all of this then? Well, it’s difficult to give a proper verdict from our short time with the car – especially given we were driving on ice the entirety of the time. However, what we can say is the ‘N’ certainly feels a lot more focused than more plebeian variants of the Ioniq 5. The chassis is definitely stiffer and the controls have a lot more weight to them.
The Kia EV6 GT starts from just over £60,000 so given the extra performance that’s on offer, it’s possible the Ioniq 5 N could even start from closer to £70k when it eventually goes on sale – thereby making it the most expensive Hyundai ever. We’re very much looking forward to trying the production car for real on some firmer ground in the near future and seeing whether this inevitably lofty price tag is worth the extra over the standard Ioniq 5.
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