Hyundai Ioniq 5 N review | Autocar (2024)

Even after years of development, Hyundai’s engineers like using it, and we did too. The ‘engine’ noise itself could use some work – it’s flatly synthetic – and it’s possible in a while we’ll be over it and it’ll all seem anachronistic. But whenever you reach that point, just turn it off – then the gearshift paddles adjust the regeneration.

With or without it, the N’s dynamics are first rate, especially given this is a 2200kg performance car. As a result of the mass, there is notable pitch under acceleration and roll in cornering, even with the dampers stiffened, but the steering weights up nicely to let you lean against it. You’d barely know the brakes are by-wire too. It could have more pedal resistance under heavy track brakingbut then might feel too obstructive on the road.

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Turn-in is good, particularly if you settle the nose first by trail braking. We don’t think a Porsche Taycan turns this well, or has this fantastic level of adjustability, even if you leave the power balance alone by not pitching the N into its rear-drive mode. The rear motor is more powerful than the front anyway, the tyres are 275/35 R21 Pirelli P Zeros all around and the weight distribution must be fairly even.

As a result – and with stability control off, which N says means you’re entirely on your own – the Ioniq turns large mid-corner grip into a slide on corner exit. It even wants to ease into gentle oversteer in high-speed corners. The last Ford Focus RS did this, but not to this extent, and not this controllably either. It’s “not a drift car,” says Tyrone Johnson, “but it can be made to drift.” And it’s still great fun if you’re precise and don’t let it.

The drift optimiser is a novelty. Hyundai wettened a skid pan so we could play with it. The throttle response is too sharp to easily enter a prolonged slide, but as a way to practise car control, it’s huge fun. Look out for viral videos of owners sliding into lamp-posts in wet retail outlet car parks.

But the car is seriously satisfying on the roadtoo. European Ns have a softer damper set-up than the original prototype we drove – Hyundai even does some tuning in the UK – but the vertical control unsuprisingly remains considerbly tighter than that of your standard Ioniq 5. Direction changes feelsharp and accurate, with pleasingly precise steering. There's also good enough compliance and a keen edge to proceedings. As well as the Focus RS, there are hints of Mercedes-AMG A45 or even Mitsubishi Evo about it, though it’s more mature and multifaceted than all of those. We’d drive this over most of them.

Since our initial drives abroad, we've tried the Ioniq 5 N in the UK as well. Sure, it feels big, but at no point does it feel remotely as big as it is and you can place it with absolute confidence. And while it does get a little animated over the bumpiest of roads (you can forget about anything other than the softest damper mode), it telegraphs its movements and is never deflected.

At 2.2 tonnes, the N is no fairy, but a pedigree driving position and fine synthesis of steering behaviour, roll rates and throttle/brake response contrive to shrink it – certainly to the extent that you feel confident barrelling into bends, teasing the chassis. Pushed hard, the natural mid-corner balance neatly smudges all four tyres across the road surface while maintaining terrific momentum. It’s a bit like the old Volkswagen Golf R Estate in this sense, only with less adjustability on a lifted ‘throttle’ but more – much more – when back on the power.

As for isolation over longer distances, the 5 N is pretty compelling because it doesn't hit you over the head with road noise or a tetchy ride. It's not whisper-quiet and there's always some sporting intent to the ride, but you could comfortable do long distances in this car and feel fresh at the end.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 N review | Autocar (2024)
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