14 June 2024

It's electrifying! Game-changing Hyundai poised to (pocket) rocket to hero status

| Paul Gover
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The day of the $111,000 Hyundai has dawned with the launch of the super-fast Ioniq 5 N. Photos: Supplied.

The craziest new car of 2024 is the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. It’s crazy fast and has, considering Hyundai began as a $13,990 bargain brand, a crazy price of $111,000.

It is also crazy in the way it can switch from an easygoing electric touring car to a wild beast that mimics a hot-rod combustion car.

It can also catapult to 100km/h from a standstill in just 3.4 seconds and has a driving mode named ‘‘Grin Boost’’. The all-wheel-drive rocket can even be switched to entirely rear-wheel drive if you’re feeling crazy and have access to a racetrack.

car spinning wheels on track

The all-wheel-drive rocket can even be switched to entirely rear-wheel drive if you’re up for a wild ride and have access to a racetrack.

The 5 N sets a new benchmark for Hyundai and is a car that defies an easy answer.

Do you want to drive like your pants are on fire? It can do the job. Do you want a car that’s the electric equivalent of a Subaru WRX STi? Yes again. Do you want a car that’s relaxing and simple to own and operate? Not so much.

The 5 N is battery-electric and that means quiet and comfortable highway running, and it also has special Australian suspension settings that make it easygoing on country roads.

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It has good space for five and a reasonable boot, as well as a range that can top 400 kilometres between plug-in sessions. And yet … the N team at Hyundai in South Korea, which is responsible for adding the special performance spices across the Hyundai range, went crazy wild with this one.

shiny new red car under red pillars

The Ioniq 5 N is shaped to mimic a compact hatchback despite having a giant battery pack in the floor that makes it similar in size to a Kia EV9 SUV.

For context, the Ioniq 5 N is shaped to mimic a compact hatchback despite having a giant battery pack in the floor that makes it similar in size to a Kia EV9 SUV. It has the dual electric motors that often signal a long-range electric car, or one with special intent on the performance side.

There is a brilliant set of big infotainment screens, grippy seats, USB ports and cup-holders and a reasonably sized boot, although there is no sign of a spare tyre.

But the real reason for an N badge on the Ioniq 5 is reflected in all the switches and settings, which unleash as much as 478 kilowatts of combined power and a thrusting 740 Newton-metres of torque.

car interior and city buildings lit up

If you’re in the mood, you can mimic a combustion car with a set of ‘’gears’’ that allow you to play like it’s an old-school manual.

It’s wild enough when you push the pedal to the floor, but flick a few switches and engage ‘‘Grin Boost’’ and it feels far too fast for the road. Then there is the chance to mimic a combustion car with a set of ‘’gears’’ that allow you to play like it’s an old-school manual, as well as an artificial noise setting that makes the N-beastie sound like a hot-rod-turbocharged four-cylinder car – inside and out.

It is fun, fun, fun. With a serious side.

car engine

The real reason for an N badge on the Ioniq 5 is reflected in all the switches and settings, which unleash serious performance – as much as 478 kilowatts of combined power and 740 Newton-metres of torque, to be precise.

It reminds me a lot of the early Subaru STi pocket rockets, which transformed the Japanese brand and created a cult following. They took a while to learn, and fully enjoy, but they were very special and have become icons for the brand and genuine collector cars.

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It could be the same for the new Hyundai hero.

For some people, the Ioniq 5 N is so wickedly good it’s like a cut-price Lamborghini. It’s fast and flamboyant and, right now, there is nothing else like it in Australian showrooms. But would you want to live with one? I’m not so sure.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

  • Position: High-performance electric car
  • Price: From $111,000
  • Engine: Dual electric motors
  • Power: 478kW/740Nm
  • Transmission: Single-speed auto, all-wheel drive
  • Plus: Electric, rapid, silly
  • Minus: Price, confusing controls.

THE TICK: So much fun. Score: 9.1/10.

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