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First Drive

First Drive: Hyundai Ioniq 5

The story: Hyundai is looking to move upmarket with its striking new EV, seeking to tempt buyers more attuned to German premium brands.
Category:Compact executive
Key rival:Tesla Model 3
Efficiency:Range 268 miles
On sale:Now

The Ioniq 5 is a big one for Hyundai. It’s a car tasked with plucking buyers out of German premium manufacturers and spearheading a big push by the Korean brand into the true fleet user-chooser segment of the market.

It’s also the first of a new branding for Hyundai, with Ioniq becoming the designation for a range of electric models.

This large hatchback comes with a choice of two battery sizes and three power levels. It kicks off with the 58kWh battery, which combines with a 170hp electric motor for an official range figure of up to 240 miles. The larger 73kWh battery links to a 217hp motor, is rear-wheel drive, and offers 300 miles of range. Then there’s the range-topping all-wheel drive 304hp model driven here, which has an official range figure of up to 287 miles.

First Drive - August 2021 - Hyundai Ioniq 5 - Image 6As soon as you open the door, Hyundai’s attempts to attract a premium buyer are obvious, with the interior boasting a major step up compared to what we’re used to from the brand. It’s also light and open.

The huge pair of 12.3-inch screens – touchscreen infotainment and driver’s dashboard – dominate the cabin, and there is a lot of interior stowage. The Ioniq 5 also offers plenty of rear space.

While the interior is cosseting and welcoming, the exterior is designed to turn heads, and certainly does. The edgy styling manages to be both futuristic and slightly retro from different angles, and looks great from all, with the modern angular look combining with dot-matrix-effect lighting, especially at the back. It certainly makes a statement.

The top-spec four-wheel-drive Ioniq 5 driven here is punchy, and has excellent body control so is well-set through twistier roads. The ride quality is a touch on the hard side but copes well with the variety of challenges imposed by British asphalt.

First Drive - August 2021 - Hyundai Ioniq 5 - Image 5The boot is long, flat and shallow, although the official figure of 527 litres suggests it’s bigger than those in premium EV rivals such as the Polestar 2 and forthcoming BMW i4. It’s slightly behind the Tesla Model 3.

But that exalted company shows the challenge Hyundai has got in establishing the Ioniq 5, with this top-spec Ultimate model passing the £48,000 mark, although the range kicks off at a more palatable point below £37,000. It’s an impressive piece of kit, and more than stands up to the challenge in terms of styling and interior design and quality. The next task is to convince company car drivers higher up the ranks that the brand is worth considering against the usuals.

paul barker



The verdict

Striking design, well-crafted interior and performance that stacks up against some top-notch compact premium executive EV competition.