Hyundai Ioniq 5 review: A bright future for the new generation of EVs

The price might cause a double-take but this high-specification EV has the range, performance and style to make it a success

Looks can be deceiving, take the new all-electric Hyundai Ioniq 5, for instance. At first glance it looks like an, admittedly striking, new competitor to the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus but, in a twist that would need to be explained to Father Dougal using Matchbox miniatures, that’s just because it’s far away.

The sharply-styled EV is actually 5mm longer than a Ford Kuga SUV and 7mm wider, but the short front and rear overhangs, bodywork creases, matt paintwork and huge 20-inch alloy wheels somehow combine in an optical illusion that makes the car appear far more compact than the on-paper footprint would have you believe.

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The deceptive exterior proportions mean the uninitiated will be impressed by the spacious interior, which comfortably seats four adults (or five, provided one of them is narrow enough for the middle berth on the rear bench). Head room is excellent front and back - something that’s no longer a given in the SUV segment with the fashion for swooping rooflines - and the 531-litre boot can extend to a whopping 1,591 litres with the rear seats down.

Interior and equipment

The Ioniq 5 is available at launch in three trim levels: SE Connect, Premium and Ultimate. I tested the latter two and, unsurprisingly, it’s the luxurious Ultimate edition where the Ioniq 5 is at its Tesla-challenging best. Whichever trim you opt for the cabin is a delight, however. It’s airy and uncluttered, with a clean, ultra-modern dashboard design dominated by a wide dual-screen display with an integrated speaker, like a high-end home cinema.

The equipment list is a very long one, but in addition to the Premium trim, highlights with the Ultimate specification include a seven-speaker Bose audio system and Black Shadow leather seat trim, heads up display plus the blind spot view monitor, which engages cameras to the right or left of the car anytime the driver toggles the indicator on.

A bizarre feature I’ve found in a number of EVs I’ve tested is that they often ship installed with some kind of at-one-with-nature media gimmick. The Honda e’s dashboard transforms into a virtual aquarium, for instance. After some poking around the menus of the Ioniq 5 I eventually found what I was looking for: a playlist of ambient sounds, with everything from waterfalls (made the kids need to pee), rain (completely unnecessary in the Scotland), forest noises (made me want to drift off to sleep) and ‘pavement cafe’, as if the clinking of crockery and mumbling of strangers is in any way desirable without a coffee and a massive slice of cake to accompany it.

Forty-five thousand pounds - as the two-wheel-drive Ultimate costs - for a Hyundai would have raised a few eyebrows just a few years ago, but I defy anyone to sit in the Ioniq 5 and tell me it doesn’t feel every cubic-centimetre the premium product. Factor in that this is a long-range all electric SUV and I’d argue that the Ioniq 5 is as worth the money as any EV I’ve tested and £37k for the entry spec SE-connect is a seriously competitive deal.

Driving the Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Ioniq 5 is available with either a long-range 73kWh battery or a standard-range 58kWh unit and has the option of either all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. Range and top speed varies depending on which combination of drivetrain and battery you go for but the longest-range combination of rear-wheel drive and the 72kWh battery gives you a claimed maximum range of 298 miles.

I tested that version as well as the all-wheel drive variant and over the course of a week-long test in the two-wheel drive car reckon I was on-course for between 220 and 230 miles from a full charge over a mix of driving. That experience comes with the usual list of caveats however; putting the heating on to demist the windows dropped 19 miles of range from my display and a sustained uphill stretch of motorway driving caused a further downward revision too.

The Ioniq 5 is rapid charge capable and, if you can find a 50kW fast charger, a one-hour charge should be enough to add 80 per cent of range from near empty. During my test I charged the Ioniq 5 for two hours on an 7kW wall-box and achieved an additional 40 miles of range, while an earlier, overnight charge using a three-point pin and standard domestic socket added about 80 miles of range.

At over two tonnes in weight, the Ioniq 5 is no nimble roadster, but the ride is excellent and it handles surprisingly well thanks to the low centre of gravity. Like all EVs there’s a near instantaneous throttle response from a standing start - varying depending on the driving mode chosen - and the all-wheel drive configuration feels particularly rapid with a 5.2-second nought to 62mph time. The rear-wheel drive version reduces that to 7.4 seconds and you can add another second to both those times if you opt for the smaller-capacity battery.

Verdict

Launched in 2021 the Ioniq 5 has already won a slew of awards and it’s easy to see why. If electric cars are going to become the mainstream choice in the UK, yes, they are going to have to get cheaper but, more importantly, they need to be desirable, practical and provoke an emotional response from prospective buyers.

The Ioniq 5 is part of the cutting edge new generation of EVs that adds the desirability factor that was previously missing from the EV offerings from mainstream manufacturers. It doesn’t look like a toy, nor does it look like something your Uber driver would pitch up in. It looks like it’s from the future and, if that’s the case, then the future is bright.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Ultimate

Price: £44,945; Motor: Single 160kW synchronous motor; Battery: 73kWh; Power: 214bhp; Torque: 258lb ft; Transmission: Single-speed, rear-wheel-drive; Top speed: 115mph; 0-62mph: 7.4 seconds; WLTP range: 280 miles; Consumption: 3.47 miles/kWh; Charging: Up to 350kW