The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a crossover that successfully provides what today’s buyers want from a modern, well-equipped electric vehicle.
Twenty-first century buzzword: Disruption. That’s a phenomenon enabled by revolutionary technologies that re-set the market, preparing a fresh canvas for fresh thinking.
Electric powertrains give carmakers huge latitude and flexibility to re-imagine the automobile. Some, like Tesla, Rivian, and earlier on, BMW i, have truly innovated.
Others are just churning out yet more cookie cutter compact crossovers. Hyundai has grasped the opportunity with both hands to suddenly and improbably become the coolest volume brand out there.
The N Vision 74 concept car, for example, is achingly beautiful in a way not even any Italian has matched in recent memory. This is 1980s style retro-futurism; an incredibly sexy aesthetic brought to life on the public road in the form of the IONIQ 5. Sci-fi is not easy to pull off.
Merely being weird is not necessarily wonderful, but man alive the IONIQ 5 is wonderful to behold. Think Blade Runner meets Star Trek, and you’d be there in spirit.
Appraise the IONIQ 5’s general silhouette in isolation and one might mistake it for a regular-sized family hatchback. Park a BMW X1 next to it, however, and the Bimmer is remarkably humbled in all of length, width, and height.
This is, in simple terms, a scaled-up hatchback. It’s deceptively big, and very sensibly so. All the space without the packaging inefficiencies inflicted on SUVs.
The zeitgeist busting extends beyond the surface, for the IONIQ 5 has taken the freedoms granted by electrification to deliver a whole new commuting experience.
You know those houses depicted in your dentist’s coffee table book on architecture? The kind partially embedded into an improbably green and picturesque cliffside hillscape, all of a bajillion square-feet in size with towering full-length wall to wall glass windows?
Imagine stretching out on one of the hypermodern couches in the living room, lazily gazing upon the endless vistas of sea, greenery, and the best of nature. Both front and back, that’s the IONIQ 5 experience for you.
SLEEK AND MODERN
The furniture in this lounge-on-wheels can be described as near-luxury rather than being truly Bentley-baiting, eschewing glittery ornamentation in favour of clean, neat surfacing and instrumentation.
And that’s okay! That’s better than okay, in fact, for this interior paradigm deals in the two commodities most pleasurable and comfortable to this tester: space and light. Huge windows, barely any obstruction to a free range of upper body movement, and reclining seats with extendable leg-rests even for the driver create a living space immensely relaxing to spend time in.
To its even greater credit, Hyundai has handled the transition to the information age with deftness and intuition, something so many car manufacturers have fumbled rather inelegantly.
I’m not going to name names here but, unlike Dat Auto’s efforts, Dis Auto’s slew of infotainment features and giant screens are navigable sensibly even on first acquaintance, with key features placed exactly where you expect them to be.
One exception to this buffet of excellence, however, is the way the car handles its alerts and warning chimes. Being constantly bombarded with jingles, dings, and bongs is immensely irritating, and it took all of two days and multiple Google searches to figure out how to top the car from interrupting my music every 10 seconds to tell me of some infernal camera waiting to pounce upon my misdemeanours.
One might think, then, that the car is a languid, lazy, laggard on the road and in the bends. One would be very wrong. Easy-going does not mean discombobulated. No doubt aided by its wide wheel tracks and low centre of gravity, the IONIQ 5 cuts a very calm and tidy figure partaking in the cut and thrust of Singapore traffic.
Despite being armed only with a Cat A-eligible 143bhp, the IONIQ 5 is brisk and quick to zip forward. Such is the nature of electric propulsion. Plus, visibility is 90% of the dynamic battle won, and the IONIQ has fantastic sightlines.
Along the tight confines of Serangoon North Ave 1, the IONIQ 5 is supremely easy to place. The precision and easy mouldability in the controls mean there is even a little fun to be had. The car can hold its line with a steady throttle input across the sweeping arc of the Stevens Road PIE entry ramp.
The IONIQ’S general comportment, however, does not egg you to take maximum advantage of all that athletic potential, rendering it more of a confidence-building ally in what would most likely be a sedate and highly pleasant cruise around the island.
This has been by far my most spirit-soothing motoring experience of 2023. It is entirely possible to operate the car with one’s fingertips, employing only the very edges of one’s consciousness.
Sound insulation is superb, the seats are all-day comfortable, and the relaxing ambience lowers your heart rate the way a hug from a big floofy dog does. Of electric propulsion’s freshly wrought virtues, this is one of the best expressions of the type’s core strengths.
Should one see the road as a racetrack, Kia’s EV6 is the more aggressively positioned member of this corporate platform family.
CHARGING + CONNECTIVITY
Naturally, there are companion apps. The first one allows you to do such things as turn on the air-con and lock and unlock the car remotely. The second, called IONIQ Core+, is a drug for the Fitbit generation of telemetry freaks.
Here, you can pore over stats relating to your driving efficiency, consumption, and range. I even managed 7.4km/kWh over my last 10 trips, notably better than the 5.99km/kWh claimed by Hyundai.
The IONIQ 5 has a theoretical maximum charging speed of 350kW. The fastest chargers in Singapore can manage 150kW, but there are some across the border than can vomit electrons into the vehicle at its permissible breakneck rate.
Using one of SP Mobility’s 100kW rated machines, I gained 104km of indicated range in 16 minutes, going from 34% to 66%, taking on 20.6kWh of charge for $13.37. Charging speeds hovered between 78kW to 93kW.
A 350km range appears realistic for the base 58kWh model, with the range counter ticking down in nice proportion to actual distance travelled.
Hyundai is a brand that, over the past decades, has gone from level to higher level at such a reliable rate that it has become a cliché to say it in reviews of their cars. Remarkably, even onward to a brand new age, they have somehow managed to remain in meteoric ascendancy.
I do not say this lightly, but at the time of writing, the IONIQ 5 is my number one recommendation for an EV.
In execution and imagination, the IONIQ 5 is impressively pleasant yet incredibly intriguing at the same time, capturing the excitement of a new paradigm in a package that is fully realised.
Hyundai IONIQ 5 Prestige 58kWh (A)
MOTOR Permanent magnet synchronous
MAX POWER 143hp
MAX TORQUE 350Nm
POWER TO WEIGHT 74.9hp per tonne
0-100KM/H 9.5 seconds
TOP SPEED 185km/h
PRICE INCL. COE From $259,800
AGENT Hyundai Motor Group Innovation Centre in Singapore (HMGICS)