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Hyundai ioniq 5 n front end

Hyundai IONIQ 5 N Review: Shifting Gears for Enthusiast EVs

The moment I asked TCR Australia Champion Josh Buchan “Do you prefer second or third through this corner,” is the moment I realised Hyundai was onto something special with the IONIQ 5 N.

This might look like an IONIQ 5 at first glance, but the wings, splitters, and red accents indicate this is the brand’s most ambitious project to date. They’re trying to convince ‘N’ loyalists and enthusiasts that an electric vehicle priced at AUD$111,000 before on-road costs can be just as fun as any petrol vehicle. And with a few key ingredients – N Active Sound + and N e-shift simulated paddle shifts – I think they’ll do it.

It’s our best look at what an electric future could look like for enthusiasts because, unlike so many brands, Hyundai doesn’t really care about straight-line speed or absolute G-forces. The 478kW (640HP) power figure and 0-100km/h time of 3.4 secs tell you it’s bonkers fast, but all the brand cares about is fun.

To put this theory to the test, I attended the launch of the car at Sydney Motorsport Park to review the car. Here’s everything I found out about the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N.

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Hyundai ioniq 5 n drifting 2
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N | Image: Hyundai

On the street, most EVs differentiate themselves with different levels of straight-line speed. Here on the track, however, it’s a completely different story.

For a car that weighs 2,230 kg (485.7 kg of which is batteries), the IONIQ 5 N is cheeky, playful, and lets you explore the limits with little to no electronic interventions. There’s a slider on the screen that lets you choose how much drive is sent to each motor (0-100 per cent front-to-rear adjustment) and even in ‘Normal’ mode the car likes to step out.

Put it in ‘Sport’ or ‘Sport+’ and the slides are predictable, but it won’t catch you if you get outside your limits. You certainly wouldn’t want to get caught out on the street, it will spin out.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n on track 1
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N | Image: Hyundai

That’s not to say the car isn’t precise because the fundamentals of a great sportscar are there. Rack-mounted motor-driven power steering, an electronic limited-slip differential (e-LSD), and 4-piston front brake callipers are just some of the hardware features that have found their way onto the car.

Tyres varied on our test cars, but the standard-fit Pirelli P-Zero HN’s measure 275/35 so there’s plenty of mechanical grip.

Stand-out software features like N Active Sound + and N e-Shift only add to the experience along with N Grin Boost (NGB) which offers 10 seconds of extra power for use on main straights. Without pushing the absolute limits of the car down the straight at SMSP you could get very close to the 260 km/h top-speed.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n interior
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N interior | Image: Hyundai

Back to that N Active Sound + for a second because it’s become a point of contention to many, but I believe it’s the best ‘fake sound’ I’ve heard in an EV. Manufacturers avoided simulating engine noises for so long because “It’s not what the future sounds like,” but Hyundai has proved everyone wrong. No videos do this car justice and you need to hear it in person to fully appreciate it.

It sounds like you’re driving around a 2-tonne racing simulator, but I don’t think it would be great in its own right. You need to combine it with N e-Shift, which has quickly become my favourite feature of any EV I’ve ever driven. Yes, it’s fake, but it works!

N e-Shift doesn’t just shift, but it matches the revs, gear selected, and then limits the power and torque accordingly.

For example, if you put your foot down in ‘6th gear’ it will simulate a DCT and drop-down multiple gears to get you back into the power band. Choose the wrong gear for the corner exit and the car will bog down or bang off the ‘rev limiter’. Pull a gear and it will give you a shove and squirm as it regains traction with the added power, similar to a McLaren. It feels like ‘Boost by Gear’ which has become popular in modern supercars.

Of course, I could talk about things like N Launch Control, N Drift Optimiser, and N Torque Distribution all day, but I’ll end up with the same conclusion. This is the most fun you can have driving an EV.

It’s not too shabby on the inside either with some of the best ‘sports seats’ I’ve sat in and the 12.3-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto tells you everything you need to know when you’re on track. Things like data logging, track timing, and plenty of customisation options are right there.

The heads-up display has N dedicated graphics, while the cluster in front of you also features special N graphics with need-to-know performance data information like motor temperatures and state-of-charge.

Speaking of charging, the vehicle has a claimed 448 km of range on the AER scale and uses 21.2 kWh/100km which is rather thirsty. Find a 350kW charger and the 5 N can go from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 18 minutes thanks to 800V capability. This time around, I only had the chance to track the car so I’ll update this review with real-world figures once I’ve had a chance to test it on the street.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n rear end
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N | Image: Hyundai

This was a track review, but it told me everything I needed to know about the IONIQ 5 N. With the perfect blend of software: N Active Sound +, N e-Shift, N Torque Distribution, and hardware features that carry across from the best sportscars in the world, this is the most fun I’ve ever had behind the wheel of an EV.

You can get your hands on the new Hyundai IONIQ 5 N right now for AUD$111,000 before on-road costs at dealerships around Australia. Only two options will be available: Vision roof (AUD$2,000) and Matte paint (AUD$1,000).

It’s available in six gloss colours: Cyber Grey, Performance Blue, Soultronic Orange, Abyss Black, Atlas White, and Ecotronic Grey, and four matte colours: Performance Blue Matte, Atlas White Matte, Ecotronic Grey Matte, and Gravity Gold Matte. Our pick of the bunch is the Atlas White Matte, its’ stunning in person.

Hyundai ioniq 5 n drifting 3
Hyundai IONIQ 5 N | Image: Hyundai

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