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Home / Reviews / Cars & bikes / Electric cars / Hyundai Ioniq 5 N review: feverish first drive signals a winner

Hyundai Ioniq 5 N review: feverish first drive signals a winner

A fast and furious EV that can be used for the school run. How and why is this possible?

Hyundai Ioniq 5 first drive review lead

Stuff Verdict

We’ve yet to experience if for a longer period but based on early impressions the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a blisteringly good high-performance all-rounder with added novelty value.


  • Ridiculous performance
  • Brings new engagement to EVs
  • Just as practical as the regular car


  • Serious money
  • Lairy looks not for everyone

The main reason I’ve owned a Honda S2000 for the last fifteen years? The fabulously revvy engine, which delivers a driving experience you can truly connect with. Reviewing electric cars is completely different; there’s plenty of torque (the beauty of electric motors), maybe some tyre and wind noise, but otherwise little in the way of audible fun. I think the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N might be the perfect compromise.

This innovative Korean carmaker has developed a street legal, all-wheel-drive mean machine, using technology rather than petrol to provide the thrills. Purists might be sniffy about the concept, but it’s not until you experience the reality that it all comes together into something a little bit special. Sit behind the wheel of this bundle of fun, even for a short period of time, and it’s hard to keep a handle on your cheesy grin as it grows wider by the minute.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has already garnered plenty of praise in its standard form, but the N version is on another level entirely. The carmaker’s performance division has based this model on the same E-GMP platform, but there are notable differences, ranging from the subtle mods of the exterior design through to an imposingly dark interior that suggests driving thrills are just a bucket seat away.

The styling

As you’d expect, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is a chunkier car than the bog-standard edition, with its 3-metre wheelbase providing a home for lots of subtle touches that allow it to handle all the extra power. Notable cosmetic enhancements include three front Active Air Flaps to aid brake cooling, while at the back there’s a rear spoiler, rear diffuser and air outlet to help with air-flow efficiency. Revised bumpers add 25 and 55 millimetres to the front and rear too.

It definitely looks sportier, and the cool Performance Blue Glossy and Performance Blue Matte exterior colours accentuate that fact even more. Each is an instant indicator that the car you see before you is an N. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N also sits lower on wider, larger 21in wheels, while the suspension tweaks allow it to squat on the road looking more than ready for business.

Hyundai has also given the interior a makeover, with low-slung bucket seats which can be had in either cloth and leather or eco Alcantara and leather. A special N steering wheel adds in no less than four dedicated mode buttons that let you tap into all the different connotations of the powertrain setup, without having to fiddle with any controls on the dash. Meanwhile, the centre console now sits in a fixed position.

The drive

For comparison purposes at the time of my Ioniq 5 N test drive, I was given a bog-standard version to run on exactly the same route. The difference was immediately noticeable and, in reality, the N feels like an entirely different car.

I was given a good mix of roads and driving scenarios on the route, from suburban streets through to autobahn. What’s perhaps most surprising is that while it can be ferociously fast on highways and through challenging corners, the N can be subdued and restrained if you need to pick your way through built up areas. Better yet, while it might have bucket seats, it’s still got space for your kids in the back and your weekly shop in the boot.

The adaptability of the E-GMP platform is clear to see with this car. While there’s still a low centre of gravity helping matters, the N has been fine-tuned to cope with the additional power and torque. As a result, it never feels unpredictable and with fat 275/35R21 Pirelli P-Zero tyres, it rolls down the road and goes around bends like it’s on rails. That said, it’s mighty comfy too.

Stopping isn’t an issue either, thanks to beefy 400mm discs on the front and 360mm ones on the back. They’ve been designed to handle the rigours of stopping all that torque along with help from four-piston front callipers, high-friction pads and the ability to get plenty of air in and around them for added efficiency.

The technology

The tech that forms the backdrop to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is central to the attraction of this electric car. The N works around a core of three different drive scenarios: Corner Rascal, Racetrack Capability and Everyday Sportscar.

The powertrain is very intuitive, thanks to the e-shift system, a tweaked steering rack and electronic stability control Sport that allows for a more realistic racetrack feel. There’s N Pedal too, which lets you get the best from the various performance modes along with N Drift Optimizer and even a Torque Kick Drift function that emulates the clutch kick of a petrol-powered car. It’s very convincing.

Racetrack Capability allows you to get the best from the Electronically Controlled Suspension or ECS system, which stiffens up damping and boosts stability. Hyundai’s engineers have also worked to keep cooling top of the list too, meaning that there isn’t any drop off in performance as the electronic components get pushed to the max. The N Launch Control option naturally gives you the best possible start off the line.

Everyday Sportscar is perhaps the option that will get used most for daily driving, and is the one I enjoyed most during my test drive. It makes the dashboard look and feel just like a regular ICE car, complete with those all-important (albeit synthetic) revs and a full suite of ‘feelings’ that come with a gearbox.

The N e-shift system recreates an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and you get the audio backdrop to match too. This produces three different audio accompaniments including ‘Ignition’, an ICE N engine and exhaust sound along with a brace of futuristic EV sounds. In fact, one of them, ‘Supersonic’, is inspired by fighter jets. Everything gets delivered via Bose Premium Sound speakers inside while the same happens outside via two external speakers.

There are dials including one that show the revs – there’s even a redline you can hit too, while the steering wheel allows you to easily manage the four different mode buttons that cover Mode Select along with Normal Mode, Eco Mode and Sport Mode to choose from. The N Grin Boost or NGB option lets you enjoy a blast of instant thrust for up to 10 seconds if you’re desperate to show off. Two of the N Custom buttons can be adapted to suit your own preferences if you want the car to be set up in a specific way. It’s all very clever indeed.

Of course, there’s also Hyundai’s 800V battery and charging technology to consider, which means it can be charged faster and is also more thermally efficient, making it more than able to handle performance. That’s even more of a boon if you’re considering taking your Hyundai Ioniq 5 N for a track day or two, where it should be more than able to take on the challenge of being thrashed and then rapidly prepared for another round of laps.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 N initial verdict

On first impressions the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is a brilliant thing. It brings a new dimension to the idea of driving an EV, offering a much more immersive experience that makes you feel part of the car, rather than just a passenger.

This is no high-performance, bare-bones performance car though as there’s no stripped-down interior, just a more interesting and, perhaps, comfier interior than the original car. Hell, you can even take the kids to school in it and then head off for your shopping. Got some time to spare? You can head for a track day too.

If that’s not a great formula for the future of EVs then I don’t know what is.

Stuff Says…

Score: 5/5

We’ve yet to experience if for a longer period but based on early impressions the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is a blisteringly good high-performance all-rounder with added novelty value.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 N technical specifications

Top speed160mph
Range278 miles
Maximum charge rate350kW
Cargo volume524 litres
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Rob is a freelance motoring journalist, and contributor to Stuff magazine and Stuff.tv

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