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Ticks all the grown-up sensible boxes and looks this flipping special. Tesla’s worst nightmare

Good stuff

Hyundai’s best-looking car ever, lounge-y interior, comfort, clever charging, healthy range

Bad stuff

Heavyweight boat-y handling, badge snobs scoffing “how much?!”

Overview

What is it?

The first of a new family of all-electric cars from Hyundai, which has since been followed by the Ioniq 6 and will soon be joined by a hot hatch N variant. Expect smaller Ioniq 3s and 4s in the fullness of time. And expect those to be rather excellent machines, if this first effort is anything to go by.

Is this Hyundai’s first go at an EV?

Nope, the Koreans have been quietly making decent electric cars for some time now. The old teardrop-shaped Ioniq was available as a pure EV (though most left the factory as mild hybrids) and for a few years now we’ve been seriously impressed by the Kona Electric: a small crossover which embarrasses the likes of an Audi Q8 e-tron and Jaguar I-Pace for range.

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Worthy as those cars are, Hyundai realised it wasn’t going to get a foothold in the EV gold rush alongside the likes of the VW ID cars unless it wrapped up everything it had learned about going electric into a body that turned a few heads. And then dropped jaws into laps when we saw the interior.

And this is what makes the Ioniq 5 one of the stand-out electric cars you can buy right now. It’s an EV you’ll want to own just from clapping eyes on it, after which range and features seal the deal.

Let’s talk about those looks.

This is easily the biggest head-turner among EVs right now. No fake grille, just a light motif that ‘bleeds’ through the front trim. The front frown looks purposeful, the creased sides are brave, and the LED-festooned rear is pure Pixar movie robot. It’s a tremendous piece of car design that somehow hits all the aero and pedestrian safety targets while looking like a cross between a DeLorean hot hatch and a prop from Blade Runner.

I can’t work out how big it is. A city car?

Optical illusion, that. While the Ioniq 5 can appear in pictures to be the same size as the wee Honda e and Fiat 500e, it’s actually a large Range Rover Evoque-sized crossover masquerading as a family hatch. It rides on a new, bespoke Hyundai platform set to underpin a fleet of new EVs with the usual mix-and-match approach to front and rear motors and a ‘skateboard’ slab of batteries under the floor.

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Hyundai’s made a boon of that by giving the Ioniq 5 a raised seating position and an upright, airy glasshouse. So it feels spacious, and it’s easy to place in town.

Let’s be having those specs then.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 comes with a choice of two batteries and three powertrains in the UK, with various combos across three trim levels. Ready?

The entry-level Ioniq 5 costs £43,445. As standard it comes with a 58kWh battery with 238 miles of range and a 168bhp rear motor for 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds. A bigger 77kWh unit permits up to 315 miles of range, but can only be had in rear-wheel drive with a juicier 225bhp, or in all-wheel drive with an extra motor for 321bhp and 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds. More over on the Driving tab.

For 2023 Hyundai introduced a new range-topper to the line-up, called the Namsan Edition. It’ll tempt you with stuff like a panoramic roof and fancy digital cameras to go with the 20-inch rims, a head-up display and a heat pump. That update also added the ability to use your Ioniq 5 to power other electrical devices. Even other EVs. Seriously. Whether you take the £58k (seriously!) hook is another matter.

Blimey. Hyundai sees itself as a premium player now, huh?

Sure does. Badge snobs will baulk at it, but with looks that sharp you can see why Hyundai feels comfortable strolling into such premium territory. We can easily see the Ioniq 5 taking sales away from the likes of the Mercedes EQA, and even the Model Y for those who don’t get along with Tesla’s minimalist approach to interiors.

Other rivals? It’s in the same pack as the Kia EV6, Genesis GV60, Audi Q4 e-tron, VW ID.4, Volvo XC40 Recharge and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Strong field, that.

Our choice from the range

What's the verdict?

The fact this retro XXL hot hatch bodywork conceals one of the most complete family EVs money can buy is remarkable

That Hyundai is now confident enough to put a car as bold-looking as the Ioniq 5 on sale is impressive. But the fact this retro XXL hot hatch bodywork conceals one of the most complete family EVs money can buy is downright remarkable.

If Hyundai can maintain this momentum behind the upcoming members of the Ioniq family, then the likes of VW’s ID cars and even Mercedes’s EQ clan ought to be extremely worried. 

By taking the punt that people are more likely to be converted to EV ownership if the car is desirable as an object and an experience – and gambling that there’s more to life than the European players’ softly-softly don't-offend-anyone approach – Hyundai has built an exceptional electric car. 

Course, we said much the same about BMW’s brave i3, and that pretty much sunk as a business case. Whoops. But judging by how many of these we see out on the roads, Hyundai’s onto something here.

The Rivals

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