The man tasked with doing this is Albert Biermann, he’s the head of the sporty Hyundai offshoot "N" and he’s already achieved miracles with the brand’s petrol cars. He has taken some of the blandest hatchbacks around and turned them into performance models, which get nods of respect at any track day or car meet.
But now he has turned to face the electric future. He believes that just because the Hyundais of tomorrow will run on electricity, rather than super unleaded, its sports cars shouldn’t lose their soul. Biermann was poached from BMW’s M division and as he approaches retirement, he wants to put his name to a suitable swansong before he hands over the reigns to his successor. He worked his magic at Kia, with the Kia EV6 GT, and the car he has chosen for his final transformation is the Ioniq 5.
Hyundai Ioniq 5N power and performance
The N gets a bigger 84kWh battery than the standard model, which is paired with two motors. From that combination you get up to 640bhp and just under 550lb ft of torque, giving a 0-62mph time of around 3.4 seconds and top speed of 160+ mph. You’ll be beating Lamborghinis off the line with that kind of speed.
But Biermann is not interested in figures alone and says this is more about the feel. Even though the prototype is far from finished – the model is still a year away from launch - and a few lines of software are still missing, it is closer to a classic hot-hatch like the i30N than to any other all-electric model.As part of this, the N engineers have composed a surprisingly authentic engine sound.
There are three modes to choose from, played through ten different speakers - eight on the inside and two on the outside, ‘Ignition’ is supposed to sound like a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine complete with pops-and-bangs, Evolution is an electronic sound inspired by a Gran Turismo concept car, the 2025 Vision, and Supersonic simulates a fighter jet. Hyundai told us that down the line owners could potentially commission their own sounds, or gamers could vote for sounds that could then be made available via over the air updates.
Fake sounds on electric cars always create a lot of debate, but we like the way Hyundai are developing this. The N-model even simulates an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, with a rev counter, shift paddle, traction control interruptions, turbo wastegate noises and a rev limiter all included.Through this, Hyundai gives the driver back the sense of speed and a little more control over the car. It’s like hearing a great recording of a singer - it might not be quite as good as being there live, but it’s still a moving performance.
Ultimately, there’s no way to cover up the Ioniq’s 2.5 ton mass nor the higher seating position, but Hyundai has done a lot to ensure that the N model actually holds its own on the race track. It’s far more capable than doing just a couple of hot laps, and it corners with astonishing grip and feedback.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N brakes
The key to fast lap times is getting the brakes right, which is why the Ioniq 5 has the biggest discs Hyundai has ever installed, which always grip mercilessly and provide 0.6 G’s of deceleration force. You might not actually need them though, as the regeneration from the motors is significantly increased.
Hyundai’s N division has taken one of my favourite characteristics of electric cars and used it to the max. You can set the regen braking to be 50% more aggressive than the standard car, Hyundai told me that drivers will be able to use regen for 80-90% of their daily driving, and 40-50% of track driving. The system will also enable up to 44% of the energy used on track to be put back into the battery.
There is also a special cooling system for the battery, which can be conditioned not only for charging, but also for particularly fast laps where the battery and motor are working hard.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N design
I think the 5 N looks more sporty than the standard car, mainly because it’s lower and wider. This is the first time the Ioniq has been seen in matt Performance Blue and it looks fantastic in the metal, particularly with Hyundais trademark ‘N’ trim changed from red to a luminous orange for the performance electric cars, which gives it striking pop of colour.
The exterior design features lots of new features to help with aerodynamics and cooling; including V-shaped front and rear bumpers, curbed cladding over the wheel arches to help with the air flow, a rear spoiler and air slots, along with a diffuser highlighted once again in orange. The Hyundai logo is black to mark this out as a performance car, it sits well on 21 inch alloy wheels, and comes in a choice of ten colours including Performance Blue, available for the first time in both Matt and glossy finish.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N interior
There are a few clues to its potential inside the car, new trim and a gaming inspired sports steering wheel with paddles at your fingertips and a host of driving modes - Drag mode for maximum acceleration, Race mode with Sprint and Endurance settings for trackdays and laptimes. You’ll also spot a wonderfully named bright red NGB (N Grin Boost) button, which delivers an extra button of power to the motors for ten seconds when you press it.The sportiness is enhanced with comfortable and supportive bucket seats - covered in recycled alcantara - which feature illuminated N branding.
If you want proof that this car means business then you’ll find knee and shin bolsters, for when you really need to hang on in the corners.
But putting aside the fun, the Ioniq 5 N is still a great practical family car. A large boot, plenty of room in the back, the tech we love from the standard car, and a rear windscreen wiper - something the standard car doesn't have yet - make it an everyday sports car.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N charging and efficiency
Like the standard model the N comes with vehicle to load charging technology and that brilliant 800 volt running great, which delivers super fast charging capability of up to 233 kW on a DC charger. This translates into charging times of 18 minutes from 10-80% at the maximum speed, it has a maximum AC charging rate of 11 kW and will take around 11hours 45 mins to charge on average home wallbox.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N price
Of course, all this will come at a price. The most expensive Ioniq 5 to date is £54,445, but the N will comes in at around £65,000. This not only makes it by far the most expensive N model in the range, but also catapults it out of the circle of many prestige competitors.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 N verdict
So is it worth it? Although many electric car drivers become obsessed with efficiency rather than lap times, there is a job to be done by cars like the Ioniq 5 N to help win over the hears and minds of even the most ardent petrol heads. Biermann promises: "No other electric car will offer as much emotion per euro as this one." On the basis of this short drive, and after spending time pouring over it in the studio, we have to agree. But we’ll report back fully when we’ve driven it on the open road.