Hyundai Ioniq 5 N review: the most N-gaging EV!
Hyundai has engineered the Ioniq 5 N to provide smiles for miles thanks to its blistering performance, taut handling and seemingly endless list of gadgets and features
- Dazzling performance
- Highly configurable
- Practical interior and range
- Questionable naming scheme
- Stiff suspension
- Not cheap
Wallbox charge time (0-100%, 7.4kW)
Rapid charge time (10-80%, 240kW)
280 miles (est.)
11hrs 45 mins
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Verdict
Hyundai knew exactly what it was doing when it named one of the Ioniq 5 N’s functions ‘N Grin Boost’; this is a car that’s been genetically engineered to put a smile on your face, which is a breath of fresh air in a world of relatively soulless EVs. The ride may be a bit firm and you might think the long list of N-branded features sounds a bit naff, but the overall package is an effective one that prioritises the driver above all else. In short, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is essentially an oversized children’s toy that happens to be an utter hoot to drive, setting a strong precedent for not only the future of Hyundai’s ‘N’ division, but also that of the performance car in this new electrified era of motoring.
Few brands have gone from zero to hero in the performance car world quite as quickly as Hyundai’s ‘N’ division. Named after the Korean maker’s home in Namyang, South Korea, and the brainchild of ex-BMW ‘M’ boss Albert Biermann, Hyundai’s driver-focused sub-brand was introduced in 2016 and has since gone on to build a line of highly-praised hot hatchbacks, as well as a world championship-winning WRC rally car.
The new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, however, is perhaps the most exciting model yet to wear the trademark Performance Blue paintwork. It’s Hyundai’s first electrified performance car and while it has very few direct competitors, most buyers are also likely to be considering the Kia EV6 GT, BMW i4 M50 and potentially even the Porsche Taycan.
Like the regular Ioniq 5, the N variant makes use of two electric motors – one on each axle – to provide four-wheel-drive. Power is greatly increased here, though, with the Ioniq 5 N being tuned to a monstrous 601bhp; hit a very tempting-looking ‘NGB’ button on the steering wheel and the amount of grunt is temporarily boosted to 641bhp, meaning the 0-62mph sprint can be completed in under three-and-a-half seconds.
Powering all of this is an 84kWh battery pack which, according to Hyundai, is sufficient for 280 miles in normal driving – ‘normal’ being the operative word here, given the Ioniq 5 N has a whole host of bespoke performance features designed to get you driving fast and sideways - none of which will help to maximise that range figure.
The first is something that while it might not boost the car’s performance, certainly adds to the driving experience. Dubbed ‘N Sound +’, this allows you to choose from one of three synthesised engine sounds – including one that replicates the exhaust note of the petrol-powered i30 N.
While we weren’t entirely convinced by this feature in the much smaller Abarth 500e, we think it works much better in this application due to its integration with the hot Ioniq 5’s ‘N e-shift’ system. This replicates the sensation of gear changes and even allows you to ‘shift’ gears using the paddles behind the steering wheel.
That’s not all, as power can be juggled between both the front and rear axles using the N Torque Distribution system, while the N-Pedal regenerative braking system is ideal for maintaining a steady level of charge on lengthy track sessions. Prefer to show off rather than set lap times? The N Drift Optimizer will happily oblige by helping you destroy your rear tyres in a dramatic flurry of smoke.
While we’re certainly not sure about all of the N-branded names for everything – remember that ‘NGB’ button? That stands for ‘N Grin Boost’ (we’re not joking) – we do think they all add up to offer a fun, if artificially augmented, driving experience that’ll really appeal to the geekiest of enthusiasts. All of this can be configured through the touchscreen, meaning you can adjust – and even turn off – each feature to suit your personal preferences.
Even without all of these toys and gimmicks, the Ioniq 5 N is a pretty sweet car to drive; Hyundai spoke about the challenges of “making a 2.2-tonne elephant dance”, however, we think they’ve managed to overcome this boundary and create what is perhaps one of the most dialled-in EVs out there.
The steering, for example, is pin-sharp, making the undeniably heavy Ioniq 5 N feel incredibly spry and responsive. Brake feel has always been an issue with electric cars due to the presence of regenerative braking; Hyundai seems to have found a sweet spot, though, as the Ioniq 5’s brake pedal feels perfectly natural and progressive.
One thing we will say is that the suspension setup is quite firm – something that’s also the case with the petrol-powered i20 N and i30 N. It’s certainly effective in keeping body control in check and we must admit that the Ioniq 5 N is noticeably more comfortable than its petrol-powered siblings. A Kia EV6 GT will be much kinder to your back in the long run, though.
Another qualm we have is that while the regular Ioniq 5’s interior is at a level befitting its price tag, the hot N model just can’t match similarly-priced rivals in terms of overall material and build quality. The multitude of buttons on the steering wheel do make the Ioniq 5 N feel pretty special, though, and we greatly appreciate how supportive the standard-fit Alcantara bucket seats are.
Speaking of standard equipment, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N has this in spades, with all cars getting LED exterior lights, heated and ventilated seats, twin 12.3-inch screens with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a head-up display, a heat pump, powered bootlid and a 360-degree camera system. Partner this with a big boot (480 litres) and roomy second row of seats and it seems like there’s nothing the Ioniq 5 N can’t offer.