New Hyundai Ioniq 5 N prototype review

We get a first taste of the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N performance EV in the Swedish snow


The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N already feels like a fun car with plenty of power. We hope its final price doesn’t come in significantly higher than the EV6 GT’s. But in the meantime, we’re eagerly awaiting our first lap of the Nordschleife in this hot Hyundai.

Hyundai’s N models are at home on the Nürburgring. And that’s how it should stay, promises development legend Dr Albert Biermann, the former chief of BMW’s M division, who helped start up the performance sub-brand, and now acts as an advisor. So the forthcoming Ioniq 5 N will get a full 10,000km (6,200 miles) of testing on the Nordschleife.

We’re some way from the fabled circuit today, though – at an ice track in Arjeplog, Sweden. A lot of the car’s technical info is still under wraps, but the Koreans have revealed that it’s four-wheel drive, and has more power than its most obvious relation, the 577bhp Kia EV6 GT.

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The team at Hyundai don’t really want to get into too much chat about their in-house rival. The Kia is a GT, they say, whereas, despite weighing over two tonnes, the N is supposed to be suitable for the race track.

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The main elements on show to us, however, are the software features that can be accessed via the central 12.25-inch screen (still not approved for photos, alas).

We start with N Durance mode, which as its name suggests, is designed to deliver greater endurance on the track. To achieve this, the control electronics reduce the peak power available, while the brake energy recuperation system provides extra support when you’re pushing hard on the left pedal. So, what about 20 minutes hammering around the Nordschleife? “No problem now,” says Biermann, proudly.

Then there’s N Torque Distribution, which allows you to adjust the power distribution between the front and rear axles. You can never go completely front or rear-wheel drive, but you can have up to 90 per cent of the drive going through either end.

Finally, there’s N Grin Shift and the N Orchestra. The Ioniq 5 N simulates gears on demand – mimicking a gearchange with a short power interruption, and delivering a fake “rev band” by actually capping power down low. In conjunction with this, there are three different artificial engine sounds.

If you pull both of the paddles at the same time and release them again, you can even cause a ‘clutch kick’, which then provokes spinning wheels.

The drift mode is interesting, in that the Ioniq 5 is the first N car to drive not only the front but also the rear axle. And on the circles of the ice lake, the all-wheel drive corrects even our minor mistakes and sends most of the power to the outside rear wheel.

It’s hard to pass final judgement on the N’s chassis on a slippery surface such as this, but we’d already say the body seems noticeably stiffer than the regular Ioniq 5’s. They are obviously serious in South Korea – and a proposed debut for the N at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July would appear to back up that ambition.

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