Hyundai Ioniq 5 Limited review: shock of the new

David Linklater
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Most carmakers are gently ushering in the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) future by electrifying the familiar. But a few are embracing the shock of the new and hoping buyers will too.

Hyundai has already done the softly, softly thing with its Ioniq hybrid/EV models from 2016. They were what they looked like: Toyota Prius rivals.

The new Ioniq 5 makes no apologies for being a car from the future, with motor-show design and cutting-edge technology. It’s not one for those feeling unsettled about the brave new world of BEVs.

There’s also a bit of an in-joke involved, because Hyundai claims it’s inspired by the 1975 Pony, its first international car. That’s another reason why Ioniq 5 looks surreal on the road: the proportions are of a small hatchback, but it’s actually a medium-large SUV; the wheelbase is as long as Hyundai’s eight-seat Palisade.

Why “5”? Ioniq is a new sub-brand for Hyundai and there will also be an Ioniq 6 sedan in 2022 and Ioniq 7 super-SUV in 2024, all on this new e-GMP platform.

To view all Hyundai BEVs listed on DRIVEN, click here

The battery tech is also new, from a new supplier: Korea’s SK Innovation (the Kona Electric is powered by LG Chem). The Ioniq 5 architecture can switch between 400 and 800 volts, which means it can accept 200kW-plus charging from a compatible DC station. That’s 200km range in just 10 minutes on a Hyper Charger.

The Ioniq 5 can also send power back the other way (Vehicle 2 Load, or V2L); Hyundai New Zealand is in the final stages of Worksafe approval for a three-pin adaptor that plugs straight into the car’s exterior charge port, so you can boil the jug while you’re on an alert/traffic light level-compliant picnic. The three-pin connector inside the vehicle you’ll see on some overseas models (and in the video at the top of this page) isn’t part of the NZ package, though.

The Ioniq 5 range is bewildering at first: six models that mix-and-match three powertrains. There are two battery sizes, 58kWh and 72.6kWh; the former is RWD drive only, while the latter can be RWD or AWD, with higher power/torque for the all-paw version because there’s an extra electric motor.

You can have any of the above in the entry Ioniq 5 ($79,990-$94,990), while the mid-range Elite ($96,990) is 72.6kWh/RWD. The flagship Limited is 72.6kWh/AWD, costing $109,990 or $112,990 with the solar roof as tested (it charges the standard 12-volt battery first, then moves onto the high-voltage unit).

Solar roof? Yep, the Ioniq 5 goes overboard on the equipment in Limited guise: everything from remote key fob-operated parking assist to fully reclining front seats with footrests, so you can have a snooze while the car charges.

The Limited is the one we’re driven; but don’t dismiss the entry car on the grounds that it’s simply a price leader to get the sub-$80k Clean Car Discount of $8625: the “smaller” battery is still generously sized and it has most of the safety equipment of the all-singing version.

The dual-motor flagship Ioniq 5 Limited can play BEV party tricks if required: in Sport mode it jumps off the line with a jolt and will hit 100km/h in 5.2 seconds. But what really impresses is the linear power delivery in Normal mode, with the option of one pedal driving on or off via the steering wheel paddles.

The ride is smooth without being plush. As with many weighty BEVs, the primary ride (over the big bumps) is nicely controlled, but the secondary (those little ripples) can be abrupt on those 20-inch rims. There’s no adaptive suspension option to allow you to tailor the chassis; but a little fussiness isn’t enough to undermine the ultra-refined ambience.

In normal driving, the Limited favours RWD. On the open road, it’s grippy and composed in tight corners; the steering is impressive for its consistent weighting and accuracy, the AWD for its quick response. There are some downsides too: the wheel is devoid of feel and you have to be careful with the application of power, otherwise the AWD drags the chassis into immediate understeer. It’s good: but would the lower-powered, RWD entry car on smaller 19in rims be even more communicative?

The interior is minimalist, but retains switchgear for the important shortcuts. It’s a great balance between touch-tech and old-school good sense. The white interior of our test car won’t be to all tastes (the twin-display dash borders are a bit iPod-2001 to be honest) but darker tones are available. Sustainable/recycled materials everywhere.

There’s also an impressive level of SUV/MPV-style practicality. It’s spacious thanks to that flat floor and the storage options are outstanding: the glovebox is more like a drawer and between the front seats is the Universal Island, a stowage centre that slides back and forth. The rear seat also slides 135mm.

The Ioniq 5 is one of the “it” cars of 2021. It’s much more costly than Tesla’s popular Model 3, but it’s also up a level on design, quality and cabin space. Assuming you’re not a hopeless badge snob, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as premium European BEVs. In size and price, the Limited sits in between Mercedes-Benz’s EQA and the likes of the EQC, Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace; that seems about right.

ENGINE: 58-72.6kWh lithium battery with single or dual electric motors
POWER: 125kW/350Nm (58kWh RWD), 160kW/350Nm (72.6kWh RWD) or 225kW/605Nm (72.6kWh AWD)
GEARBOX: Single-speed automatic, RWD or AWD
0-100KM/H: From 8.5sec (58kWh RWD) to 5.2sec (72.6kWh AWD)
POWER CONSUMPTION: 16.7kWh/100km (58kWh RWD, range 384km), 16.8kWh/1—km (72.6kWh RWD, range 481km) or 17.7kWh/100km (72.6kWh AWD, range 460km)
PRICE RANGE: $79,990-$112,900.

PROS: Looks sensational, superb quality inside and out, a truly practical SUV

CONS: Top money for top Limited model, firm ride over small bumps, understeer can be an issue

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