After much ballyhoo, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV has landed, and it does so in rare form.
Well, in the simplest of terms, it’s the fact that even in production form (available across four trims: Essential, $44,999; Preferred, $46,999; Preferred Long Range, $51,999; Preferred AWD Long Range, $54,999 – that means every trim qualifies for federal EV incentives) it looks like a concept car. The “Parametric Pixel Lamp” headlights and taillights are the first detail to really catch one’s eyes – especially the taillights, which thanks to their gridded look, appear like a cross between something super futuristic and something that was supposed to look futuristic, like the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future series. Hyundai says that some of the “Parametric Dynamics” design language used here turns to the Pony – yes, that one — concept car of the ‘70s for some of its flare. You can see it in the taillights, the strakes on the lower doors and you could even make an argument for the aerodynamic-design wheels.
Then, it does an about-face and goes back to the future, if you will, with edgy folds on the doors, the spiralling creases ‘round the wheelwells, flush-mounted door handles and the angular wing mirror housings. Not to mention the spectacular Shooting-Star paintwork seen here which shines even on an unseasonably grey SoCal day. The overall look is squat and wide, and it can be had with either rear-wheel-drive (RWD) or all-wheel-drive (AWD), helping it walk the line between compact hatch and crossover. It does, however, have a longer wheelbase than the Palisade SUV since they’ve pushed the Ioniq’s wheels as far to the corners as possible for less wheelarch intrusion, and more room inside.
So much room inside, that Hyundai is loath to categorize it. Technically, it’s about the same size as a Tucson, but since you can slide the centre console fore and aft, and tilt the rear seatbacks and so on, more room can be freed up. All I know is that after spending time in both the front and rear seats, roominess isn’t a problem.
It’s not perfect. The rear seatbacks don’t fold completely flat and the driver’s seating position is a little high; they had to fit all that EV running gear somewhere. There’s storage in both the traditional rear cargo area and under the hood as well.
The interior is very open and airy, especially if you opt for the Ultimate package that adds a full-length moonroof, Bose premium audio, augmented reality navigation and blind spot display. It’s called a “Smart Living Room” interior by the manufacturer — as you do – and makes use of recycled materials for many of the surfaces.
The dash, of course, is dominated by the dual digital displays for your infotainment and gauges, with the latter getting altered a bit depending on which of the three drive modes – Sport, Eco, Normal – you select with a button mounted to the steering wheel. It’s somewhat Mercedes-like inside, and I have no problem with that.
Unlike Mercedes, though, the augmented reality navigation doesn’t appear on the main displays, but on the HUD, where blue arrows appear and grow larger as you approach your next instruction to better guide you. Or, if you prefer, there is also Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. It’s also through a smartphone app that you’d have to plan longer trips that require charge stops. You can see them on the Ioniq’s navi map, but you can’t tell the system to automatically include charge stops as it plans your route.
Speaking of charging: this can be done three ways (four if you include brake and coast regen, which can be set to four levels via wheel-mounted paddles): trickle charge, Level 2 and Level 3 DC fast charge. The latter gets you from 10-80 per cent in about 18 minutes; the former, about seven hours from 10-100 per cent. If you do plan on waiting with the car as you charge, it’s made easier thanks to a full flat-fold driver’s seat, so you can have a nap while the charger does its thing.
Power is rated at…well, that depends, really. There are three different powertrain set-ups available: the entry-level RWD model is good for 168 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, next up we have a 225 hp and 258 lb-ft model and crowning the line is an AWD model good for 320 hp and 446 lb-ft. The two RWD models get 354 km of range at base and 488 km afterwards, while the AWD model – only the Preferred model gets this option – provides 414 km. So yes, the top-trim does not make the most range. All trims, however, provide the option to charge accessories such as TVs or electronic air pumps.
We tested the Preferred AWD Long Range and it is a speedy vehicle. The one-speed auto means power delivery is immediate from stop, and no slouch when at speed, either. It all happens so quietly, too, thanks to the aerodynamic shape, low-drag underbody and specialized wheels and tires. The feeling of speed increases in sport mode, which also weights up the steering. Which is what you’ll want as the road gets bendy; in normal and eco modes, the steering is low on feel and weight, sometimes making for some unpredictable progress.
While the power delivery is impressive, the ride is more so save for two aspects. The chassis settings are right on, and coupled with the quiet progress, they help deliver a smooth and luxurious ride. The two issues I found is that the long wheelbase means a larger turning circle, and over larger bumps and sags, there’s more reverberation ‘round the dampers than I’d like, even though they’ve been specially designed to reduce this. Of course, the Ioniq 5 suffers the fate of other EVs in that since it runs so quietly, any noises tend to make their presence felt all that much more. You can always turn your music up, but it does bear mentioning that even in premium Bose form, the audio is a little muffled-sounding.
I won’t deduct too many points for that, though. There’s just too much to like about the Ioniq 5 to skip it due to some quiet audio. It has great range and power, comes well-equipped, and is absolutely stunning to look at. I guess the only real issue, then, is how long you may have to wait to get one as waitlists are already filling up. So hop to it!
The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.