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Hyundai Should Make the IONIQ 5 N eN1 a Road-Going Reality

I’ve never witnessed so many welded-on motoring journalists lose their minds over an EV as they do the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N. No matter the brand, every press conference, product deep dive, and showcase since the launch has been met with questions like “But have you thought about virtual gearboxes,” “What about pumping real (fake) engine sound into the cabin instead of flinstones sound.”

It’s still the most exciting car I’ve driven this year and will likely go down as one of my favourites when I round up the best cars of the year in December. In my review, I noted that this vehicle represents a turning point for EVs and signals a real future for enthusiasts when all mechanical emotion is removed from the driving experience and replaced with well-engineered (albeit fake) gearboxes and sounds.

One can only imagine what a gutted, winged, and slick-tired IONIQ 5 N would be like given a motorsport budget. Well, Hyundai isn’t keeping things to close to its chest because it has just unveiled the IONIQ 5 N eN1 and it’s the best look we’ve had at the race car future of this platform.

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Hyundai ioniq 5 n en1 rear on track
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N eN1 | Image: Hyundai

The IONIQ 5 N eN1 Cup car has the same 478kW dual-motor electric set-up as the road-going variant and is based on the same Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), but that’s where the buck stops.

You’re looking at wider over-fenders, wider wheel trajectories for improved handling, increased downforce by way of large front lips and rear wings all in the name of improved aerodynamic performance. It’s also lighter with forged wheels, a FRP hood, and polycarbonate windows, while the interior is stripped and fitted with roll cages, racing bucket seats and seat belts.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n en1 on track
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N eN1 | Image: Hyundai

However, what interests me most is the fact each race team in the new eN1 series will be able to customise the sound of their vehicle and project it to the crowd using the cars amplified NAS+ (N Active Sound), NGB overboost, and virtual shift (N e-Shift). After hearing the standard car on track at Sydney Motorsport Park, I can confidently say this will bring a new level of spectator engagement beyond Formula E.

So you want to hear this thing? Sadly, the IONIQ 5 N eN1 will only compete as a trial study in the Hyundai N Festival one-make race series with the first race kicking off at Inje Speedium on April 27th, 2024. It will compete in one-on-one knockout races and traditional sprint races.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n en1 front wheel
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N eN1 | Image: Hyundai

“Through the eN1 class, our ultimate aim is to establish Hyundai Motor as a true leader in the EV motorsport platform, fostering the growth and development of Korea’s vibrant motorsport culture while making a resounding impact on a global scale,” said Joon Park, Head of N Brand Management Group. “With the eN1 class, we are poised to redefine the future of racing and pave the way for a new era of electrifying motorsport achievements.”

While there’s no immediate talk of a hardcore IONIQ 5 N in the future, we’d love to see an IONIQ 5 N ‘RS’ style vehicle with large wings and diffusers hit the market in the next few years.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n en1 bonnet
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N eN1 | Image: Hyundai

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