Rarely does the popular vote and critic’s choice coincide with this much enthusiasm. The World Car of Year is also the World Car Design of the Year and the World EV of the Year and all these accolades refer to the Hyundai Ioniq 5. A rousing celebration of a bold concept put into production with almost no dilution and boy did it pay off!
Hyundai Ioniq 5 first drive review
For the love of the future
The retro-chic styling led by the pixel-LED headlights and tail lights instantly gives the Ioniq 5 its unique character. The twin barrel headlights are deeply inset into their housings, making it look even more dramatic up close and the concealed lighting strip that only illuminates when the car is switched on is a unique touch as well. The starkness of the front is accentuated by the Z-shaped crease line that splits the front doors and around the back, the pixel-shaped light strip reminds you of the 8-bit 80s and games like Tetris. Massive 20in wheels get the “parametric” design that has an intricate lattice pattern that may look too complicated to be a single-piece alloy wheel, but it actually is!
Hyundai has really pushed the boundaries of what one can achieve with sustainable materials. Almost every part of the cabin uses recycled materials from PET bottles, plant extracts and even paperette for the door cards. It doesn’t come at the cost of comfort or even premiumness. In fact, the light-coloured cabin and seats may be difficult to keep stain-free in our dusty environment, but there’s no denying its upmarket feel and quiet air of sophistication.
Going beyond mere aesthetic design, the Ioniq 5 is also a superbly packaged cabin, built on a born-electric modular platform that serves many vehicles in the Hyundai-Kia portfolio, it also makes for a completely flat, skateboard-like floor. Hyundai has harnessed this space by designing a very flexible seating layout. Starting with a sliding centre console that allows for easy movement between the front seats, the rear seats can be reclined and adjusted from the entertainment screen too. And if the rear bench is vacant, the front passenger seat can be reclined into an “anti-gravity” position, complete with an ottoman-like leg rest, at the press of a button. The practicality even extends to the exterior, with a huge 57L front trunk or “frunk” that can be used as additional storage over the already generous boot space.
A huge panoramic sunroof without a centre divider covers the entire span of the roof, heated and cooled front seats, an excellent sounding 8-speaker Bose audio system makes the most of the silent drivetrain and cabin and there’s even a cool virtual engine sound to announce your arrival to those living in the present. Although, conspicuous by their absence is wireless phone mirroring or even a sole USB-C port anywhere in the cabin! ADAS Level 2 ensures you get a surround-view camera, lane-keep and blind-spot assist along with forward collision warning and avoidance.
Hyundai also touts its V2L tech a lot, which basically uses the stored energy in the Ioniq’s battery to power external or in-cabin gadgets like laptops, coffee machines, electric bikes and other everyday appliances. Its useability is justified depending on your driving habits and propensity to be out in camping territory.
Slot the Mercedes-style stalk-mounted drive selector in D and the Ioniq 5 gets going without a sound. Well, there is a distinct electric buzz that lets you know that this isn’t your father’s hand-me-down. An AMG-esque drive mode button on the steering wheel cycles between Normal, Eco and Sport modes and while there is a difference in acceleration between the three modes, the Regen paddles behind the steering wheel didn’t make their presence felt. Perhaps a longer drive will unravel the mysteries of this powertrain better. In our relatively short drive around the bylanes of Goa, the single motor that drives the rear wheel and generates 217hp/350Nm felt more than adequate. It propels this rather large hatchback to the ton in less than 8 secs and the low centre of gravity ensures tidy handling too.
Is it a fun car to drive? Its ability to throw the tail out without trying too hard might suggest it is, but again, the relatively short duration of the drive didn’t highlight some of the nuances like suspension comfort, but steering felt direct and the brakes did a fine job of shedding all that speed too. Initial acceleration is in line with what we’re used in luxury EVs, with the instant pushed-back-in-the-seat sensation and manic acceleration. This driving style may not do wonders to lay a true claim to its 630km range, but then again, seldom any EV comes close to the advertised figure. Even a 400km range is a winning figure in this price range though and the Ioniq 5 shouldn’t give its owners any range anxiety, especially if they’re in the vicinity of a DC fast charger. It can go from 10-180% in a blazing 18 minutes if you can manage to find a 350kW DC charger!
Irrespective of how practical and capable the Ioniq 5 is, the most obvious reason why it’s already a sell-out success is because of its drop-dead good looks. A design that is refreshingly different mated to a cabin that is as inviting as a sci-fi movie with Charlize Theron, it is hard to resist its charms.
At the risk of abusing an alliteration, the Ioniq 5 is iconic and rightly so. Fantastic packaging, delicious design details and the power to entertain!
|Power:||217hp / 350Nm|
|Electric motor:||Single, RWD|