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Hyundai IONIQ 5 N: The Happiness Machine

What does it take to electrify the hot hatch? Can an EV really give you the same kicks as combustion? And what happens to your face when you slide one around a frozen lake? It’s time to find out, with the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N.

If you’re feeling a bit gloomy about the future of driving, here’s something to cheer you up: the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N hyper-hatch. Yes, it’s electric. But it hacks into a world of digital tools that unlock the joy of driving, turning battery power into a superpower. Think of it as an EV with a super-unleaded soul – one guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, every time you jump in.

This is the first time Hyundai’s N division has worked its magic on an EV, and it hasn’t held back. With dual motors and 650PS, it does 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and keeps going to a top speed of 161mph. But it’s those new technologies that really define it, and propel it into the premier league of great driver’s cars, electric or not.

Take N e-shift. It’s a fully simulated, eight-speed paddle-shift gearbox that does everything a real one does – interrupting the torque to give you a little kick on upshifts and a little blip on the way down, bouncing off the imaginary 8,000rpm redline, even matching the sound to the throttle position, revs and what gear you’re in.

Yep – sound. With N Active Sound+ you can choose from three modes: Ignition for combustion-style revs, pops and bangs, Evolution for a sci-fi thrum like the swoosh of a lightsaber, or Supersonic if you’re in the mood for lighting the afterburners. Or turn them off and glide around in stealthy silence (but why would you?).



On the track – or in our case, a frozen lake – Hyundai has even electrified the art of drifting, thanks to N Drift Optimizer. Instantly converting from four-wheel-drive to real-real drive, it sends 100% of the torque to the back, then deploys its processing power to help you hold a stylish slide. You can even simulate a clutch-kick with Torque Kick Drift, to snap sideways on demand. N Torque Distribution also lets you vary the front/rear split, with 11 different settings. Drift level: professional.

For the full 650PS hit, simply push the red button on the steering wheel and you’ll get a 10-second burst of maximum power. It’s called N Grin Boost and it does exactly that, as well as teleporting you up the road like a cattle-prodded dragster. Or from a standing start, activate N Launch Control and that 3.4-second 0-62mph time is do-able over and over again, as all four wheels grip and go.

Track days? No problem. With N Battery Preconditioning the battery cells are optimised for the most power-efficient temperature – select ‘Drag’ mode for short bursts of full power or ‘Track’ mode to unlock more laps. Or for endurance-style sessions, N Race makes further tweaks to maximise energy and performance for hot lap after hot lap.

In other words, it’s not just a hot hatch, it’s a happiness machine. And the reigning Car of the Year. Still not convinced? Watch this. Then head to to find out more.

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 N is now available to order, from £65,000.

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