Hyundai’s new-for-2021 electric IONIQ 5 mixes futuristic design with brilliant functionality. It’s snazzy, comfortable and technically impressive, but not so advanced that you need a degree in engineering to understand it. Hyundai’s biggest claim with the IONIQ 5 however, is that it is as fun to drive as it is eco-friendly. We put that promise to the test, cinch style.
Sam Sheehan, Motoring and Lifestyle editor
To cinch’s eyes, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a tremendous-looking machine. It visually tricks you, because it looks like a conventionally-sized hatchback when standing alone. But park it next to a Range Rover Evoque and you quickly see that this is a big car with a footprint more comparable to mid-sized SUVs. That lends it plenty of road presence, which is cemented tenfold by the striking, futuristic lines of this Korean five-door. We love it. And suspect many others will, too.
Whether it’s the eye-catching LED lighting, angular lines or boxy shape of the exterior, the Ioniq 5 delivers on the visual front. There’s a chance that some will think it too sci-fi-esque, but for the rest of us, it’s a fantastic piece of design that comes at no cost to the car’s practical abilities.
This is a big car with a footprint more comparable to mid-sized SUVs
What’s it like to drive?
Brilliant. It doesn’t instantly set the pulse racing, the IONIQ 5 is too calm and quiet for that. But this is a car that quickly gets under your skin, shrinking around you so its large footprint never feels difficult to manage. The visibility – aided by big door mirrors and reversing camera – is great, the ride is supple, and the car feels reactive, with a front end that’s eager to respond to your steering inputs. Add in the instantaneous responses of an electric powerplant that’s genuinely quick, and you have one very rounded driver’s offering.
That, naturally, makes it a doddle to drive around town, but most surprising is the car’s ability to deal with more brisk instructions. Find yourself on an open road and the IONIQ 5 – with the pair of electric motors and all-wheel drive of our high-rank ‘Premium’ test car – handles brilliantly, maintaining its comfortable ride but offering good body control and strong braking to back it. Turn into a bend with enthusiasm and the car has a real positivity about it; it beckons you to enjoy the smooth acceleration of the electric drive – there’s 305hp on tap with the 73kWh battery of our test car – and, when you need to slow down, use the deceleration of the electric system’s regenerative tech to do most of the work.
The IONIQ 5's regenerative tech, by the way, is there to add energy to the battery when you aren’t using the power. In short, it captures otherwise wasted energy and feeds it back into the battery, a process that causes ‘drag’ and helps reduce your reliance on the brakes. You can adjust the level of regeneration using the paddles behind the steering wheel. More regeneration and you’ll need less of the brake pedal to slow down; less regeneration and the car rolls along like a conventional automatic. It can be altered to your preference.
Turn into a bend with enthusiasm and the car has a real positivity about it; it beckons you to enjoy the smooth acceleration of the electric drive
Thanks partly to the low placement of the IONIQ 5’s batteries in the car’s floor, there is lots of space in the cabin above them. The front passengers have lots of leg and headroom, and arm room for that matter, while the back passengers have plenty of knee space. The interior of this car is more comparable with a mid-sized SUV, and that shows in the boot, where there’s easily space for three suitcases and some extra luggage above them. Plus, with no engine under the bonnet, there’s a rubber-lined storage compartment there for things like wet wellies or damp towels. Very handy.
The overall fit and finish of the interior is very good, too, with comfy fabrics and soft materials on the usual touch surfaces. There are some harder plastics in other places, like the lower section of the doors, but the plus of that is that they’ll be tougher and less resistant to wear over the years.
The feeling of quality is best upheld by the infotainment screen and digital display in place of a traditional instrument cluster. The graphics are sharp, the menus are quick to respond and the displays are packed with information. You can, of course, plug your phone in to switch Hyundai graphics for Apple or Android ones, and handily for the rest of your passengers, there are four other USB ports spread across the cabin. Oh, and there’s a proper plug port under the rear passenger seats, which could prove super useful on a long ride.
Hyundai has certainly made use of the available space with its IONIQ 5, because the hatchback is easy to get in and out of, super easy to load up thanks to its wide boot entrance and very comfortable to sit in for long periods. Those aforementioned USB ports and that back seat plug give the car plenty of technical strongpoints to brag about, but there’s an even more impressive USP that could sway buyers into camping or roadside picnics…
The external charging port, normally used to charge the car – more on that in a mo’ – can be turned into an external domestic plug port. With Hyundai’s adapter, it can bear a conventional three-pin plug so, for example, you could power DIY equipment, fairly lights or, well, just about anything that works under home power. This is a unique feature for the class and one that could very well encourage people to use this EV as a campsite power source. Or a cool way to make your mates a smoothie out on the road. Other ideas on a postcard, please.
Running costs and reliability
As for the times you use the charging port to actually top up the IONIQ 5’s battery, Hyundai claims a 50kW public fast charger will take the car from 20-80% in 50 minutes, while a 150kW rapid charger does the same top-up in 20 minutes. A 22kW home charger is claimed to take the battery from empty to full in six hours. That’s an overnight charge, then. As for range, the IONIQ 5 is quoted as having up to 300 miles of juice between charges, which is very competitive. As ever with electric cars, the real-world range depends on your driving style.
That said, compared to conventional petrol-powered cars, electric vehicles tend to be cheaper to run on average. And the Ioniq 5, with its decent range and regenerative technology, ought to rank highly among them, with an estimated cost per mile of about 4.63 pence quoted by electric vehicles specialist, Pod Point. Adding to the offer is Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty, so while it’s still new to market, you can probably feel quite confident about the Ioniq 5’s reliability, long-term.
Adding to the offer is Hyundai’s five-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer warranty
What we love
It would have been easy for Hyundai to have produced an economical, good looking electric car in the Ioniq 5 and call it a job well done. But the team – no doubt influenced by longstanding car fanatic, Hyundai R&D boss Albert Biermann – has also produced a car that’s terrific to drive. It’s fun, engaging and really very competent. A great contender in any setting. And a deserving five-star addition to cinch.
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A very welcome new entrant into the electric car arena that's likely to prove very popular with British buyers. Why? We love good looks, great value and fun handling, and the Hyundai nails all three requirements ten times over. If you're tempted by an electric car, you should absolutely give one of these a try. We dare you not to be won over...
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