The new flagship from Hyundai worldwide is not an SUV, sedan or sportscar. It is the IONIQ 5 – large enough to compete with SUVs, convenient enough to give you hatch-like peace of mind, and powerful enough to put some sportscars to shame! Here’s our exclusive review.
A new era in mobility as the entire automotive world’s focus shifts to battery electric vehicles. And after hearing about everyone’s plans for BEVs now we are seeing the products. And they are credible, capable and clever. The car a lot of people are talking about in particular is the Hyundai IONIQ 5. The retro-modern looks, the large airy cabin, the obvious tech and terrific performance, make this a very strong player on the EV stage globally. I was very excited to test this car in Germany – as part of my duties on the jury for GCOTY or German Car of the Year. I am happy to report that the IONIQ 5 has already bagged the award in the ‘New Energy’ sub-category. That also means it is a finalist for the overall honour of GCOTY.
The car looks absolutely super. I loved its retro looks at first sight. And yet, they are still finished off in a very contemporary design style. And while its proportions may fool you into thinking it’s a small car, it is bigger than a Creta and even the Tucson! Of course it’s still a modern look, and there’s something very digital about it. The head and taillights in particular look very sharp, and the surfaces are sharper still. Hyundai says the design is inspired by its very first car – the Pony – from the mid ’70s. But I just don’t see it. The pixel-look taillights, the sexy LED signature up front, and the sharp cuts and angles in the side flanks are a very specific look that the IONIQ 5 boasts.
Cabin and Tech
It is the cabin that really gets a lot of attention. Two large 12.3-inch screens combine to form the majority of the dash and give the car a sexy display panel. The screens are standard across variants. Connectivity and charging options abound, and the cabin feels nice and techie. The graphics and quality of that screen are excellent. A lot of the info layout and functionality is identical to the screens on the Kia EV6. And no surprise – because they are twins in some ways. You can read my exclusive review on that car too, here.
The biggest difference is the sense of space you get in the IONIQ 5’s cabin. The layout is almost Scandinavian in its minimalism, and the quality of the seats, materials and overall cabin is top notch. I am very impressed. The central console between the front seats can slide backwards to offer more space for storage. I am not singling safety out as a separate head here, since the car comes fully loaded on active and passive safety features – including multiple airbags, electronic stability and traction control and ADAS (advanced Driver Assistance Systems).
Performance and Range
The IONIQ 5 has three broad variants in terms of its powertrain options. The rear wheel drive variant has a single 125 kW motor, and a 58 kWh battery. 168 bhp and 350 Nm of torque and a drive range of 384 kms. The more powerful variant is the 72.6 kWh with 215 bhp and a whopping 480 kms range. And then there is the all-wheel drive with two motors with 605 Nm of peak torque, 235-300 bhp options and a range starting at 360 kms. On the road, the car feels bigger than the Kia EV6 even though they are similar, and the main reason is a marginal bigger wheelbase. So while performance is not as sporty, it is still very very good. Put it into sport mode, and of course the character changes right away. It’s all stiffens up a little bit, and especially the steering. The response is also definitely a lot quicker. It gives you a sense of urgency which you really want when you want to put it into sport mode.
Also Read: Exclusive: Kia EV6 Review
The car also has the three grades of regeneration and the single-pedal or i-Pedal mode. What I especially love about the IONIQ 5 is that while Hyundai isn’t even pretending this is an SUV, the seating position will rival many softroaders. So you sit nice and tall and get a great view of the road. And yet the car handles like a hatch. The strength of the E-GMP platform is that a lot of the drive dynamics are baked in. And that’s great, since there’s going to be a lot of modularity with the different body styles coming out on this. The electric vehicles that follow, will therefore likely have good handling as a given. So yes, the upcoming IONIQ 3, 4, and maybe even the 7, will be a hoot, if this is anything to go by!
Will The IONIQ 5 Come To India?
And we can expect this to come our way, since Hyundai is studying the feasibility of launching this car as a niche flagship offering. It would play the role of brand shaper more than anything. And don’t forget Hyundai is one of the few brands to at least launch a proper global EV in India – when it gave us the Kona Electric. There is already one on static display at Hyundai India’s headquarters. And a test car has been spotted on our roads as well! The main thing that excites me about the IONIQ 5 is how far Hyundai has come – and the sheer strength of the company’s capability. So, here’s hoping the launch is sooner, than later. Prices in Europe are in the €40-50,000 range, so it will be a premium offering when it gets to us, no doubt.