The Hyundai IONIQ 5 N, first N brand high-performance all-electric vehicle made its first global appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK back in July. Now, we flew to South Korea and tested it at Korea Internacional Circuit, former Formula 1 circuit, hit the jump to discover our first impressions.
Hyundai N held a product briefing ahead of the test drive and explained the IONIQ 5 N’s reason to exist. The IONIQ 5 N is a symbolic model that marks the implementation of “Hyundai Motor Way”, a core electrification strategy that actively promotes flexible electrification through the succession of its past heritage. The N brand was launched in 2015 and its first model was the i30 N, launched in 2017 and now and after its 8th anniversary its time to took its first step into the high-performance electric vehicle market, as Mr. Biermann said, to establish the High Performance Electric vehicle market.
Based on the experience accumulated by its rolling labs and from participating in numerous motorsport competitions, Hyundai Motor has developed in-house suspension and braking systems for high-performance vehicles, and has developed various electrification technologies such as BMS, thermal management, and regenerating braking through dedicated electric vehicles.
Hyundai idea is to provide the pleasure and driving sensibility of driving in the era of electrification by applying the highest level of technology accumulated in the past, and to solidify its leadership position in the electric vehicle market by pioneering a new area of high-performance electric vehicles.
In particular, IONIQ 5 N is equipped with the N brand’s motorsports-based know-how, technology acquired after numerous testing of its rolling labs and company’s three core elements: Corner Rascal, Race Track Capability and Everyday Sports Car.
And how does this translate? The IONIQ 5 N it’s not just another electric car to go from A to B, it’s a new electric car that you can feel, enjoy and also to run with. The IONIQ 5 N is full of new technologies developed to make it possible, for the first time in Hyundai Motor’s electrification system uses fluid inertia to apply a hydro mount that reduce the impact on the road surface and the movement of the electrification system, improving vibration while driving, ensuring improved riding comfort and stable handling performance.
In addition, the IONIQ 5 N also applies a functionally integrated axle applied to the WRC rally on both the front and rear wheels, which improves vehicle handling performance by simplifying the assembly structure and increasing the transverse stiffness of the wheel bearings by integrating the wheel joints and hub. The IONIQ 5 N is equipped with a 21-inch light-weight forged wheel with a feature-integrated axle, an electronic differential limiter (e-LSD) and an electronic control suspension (ECS) to maintain precise movement. In addition, rack-driven power steering (R-MDPS) with increased power and gear ratios ensure fast steering responsiveness to maximize agile driving performance.
The N Pedal appropriately adjusts the front and rear wheel drive distribution ratio when the driver takes his foot off the accelerator pedal, and decelerates quickly by increasing regenerating braking and motor responsiveness. The N Drift Optimizer induces oversteer when turning with a function that enables smooth drift driving by distributing optimal drive force to the front and rear wheels.
It is also equipped with an N Torque distribution that allows the driver to directly distribute the driving force of the front wheel, and it is characterized by overwhelming driving performance by applying a variety of high-performance electric vehicle N-only technologies such as high-power batteries and high-performance EV-specialized thermal management control systems.
The IONIQ 5 N, which was test-powered, boasts explosive power performance based on a motor system that greatly enhanced its performance and a high-power battery that increased capacity. With N Grin Boost (NGB), a mode that greatly increases power for a 10 seconds time and provides maximum acceleration, making the combined maximum output reach 478 kW (650 hp), with a maximum torque of 770 Nm (78.5 kgm), which led the car to reach a 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds.
Here, when the N Grin Boost is not used, the rear-wheel motor (with a maximum output of 282 kW and a maximum torque of 390 Nm), and a front-wheel motor (with a maximum output of 166 kW and a maximum torque of 350 Nm) together have a maximum power of 448 kW (609 hp) and a maximum torque of 740 Nm (75.5 kgm) which is not bad at all. In addition, the high-performance rear-wheel motor mounted on the IONIQ 5 N is equipped with a 2-stage motor system with two inverters, so that one inverter operates both inverters during daily driving and all two inverters when driving at high speed, resulting in optimal motor output.
The N-launch control function provides optimized performance control according to the road condition, helps the driver use the maximum acceleration performance when rashes in the stop, and it is equipped with a SOC (State of Charge) function that automatically marks the battery consumption per 1 lap (Lap) when driving on the track to provide optimized information for track driving.
Talking about circuit experience, the N Race feature maximices that experience with a Sprint mode and eEndurance mode, that allows you to run on the track with optimal performance depending on your requirements. First, we tested the handling performance of the IONIQ 5 N. After I have entered the circuit, I started to take the movement to avoid the standing file run well as I moved the steering heel from side to side.
Pressing the N Custom mode button is where the transformation starts into N mode at once, and it’s a track or high-speed driving-specific feature that’s completely different from the normal driving modes of Eco, Normal, and Sport used when you want that “Everyday Sports Car” feel of the IONIQ 5 N.
After entering the waiting area to enter the circuit, I received a small schedule about what I will test. The IONIQ 5 N features overwhelming driving performance by applying a variety of high-performance electric vehicle N-only technologies such as a four-wheel drive system optimized for electrification or multiple N modes.
First, I checked the acceleration performance straight ahead. At the same time as the departure signal, the car bounced out unstoppably and reached the high-speed zone in an instant. The immersion that seemed to be sucked in was frighteningly surprising, and I was able to experience the strange phenomenon of an object that was hundreds of meters away approaching right in front of me, even the instructor claimed to broaden the distance with the car in front of.
The IONIQ 5 N includes a virtual transmission system ‘N e-Shift’ that provides a shift feel for internal combustion engines through motor control. It has a multi-staged feel and even has a Fuel Cut feature that waits for the manual shift in the Red Zone. The implementation process was very sophisticated and realistic that after a few minutes driving you will be in need of reducing a gear due to the loss of rpm, then you remember this is an electric car and doesn’t has gears. The hand taste of paddleshift is great and makes you laugh on your own.
We also looked at the ability to adjust the force of the front and rear wheels to suit our preferences. This feature, named ‘N-Torque Distribution’, caused an understeer unique to all-wheel drive when the front is turned 100%, and on the contrary, if you give it all the force to the rear it can drift with oversteer. One of the best features of this car is the possibility to change the personality of the car with just a touch on the screen.
After a first acknowledgment lap, I started the real track ride. The instructor activates the ‘N Active Sound Plus’, a virtual sound system for high-performance electric vehicles that can be heard both inside and outside, making driving even more fun. It tickles your ears with a variety of sounds, including the exhaust sound of an internal combustion engine (my favorite), as well as more Sci-Fi sounds I don’t recommend. While driving it I realized what Mr. Biermann told us during Product Briefing, they made a big elephant dance, the moment you drive it you don’t think it’s a 2.2 ton, 4,7 meter electric car at all.
Here, battery thermal management systems developed by Hyundai shined, the so-called N Battery Preconditioning (NBP), which preheats and cools the battery at the right temperature before the start of the ride and ‘N Race’, which controls the battery temperature to run the track with optimal performance. In fact, under harsh track driving conditions, the car maintained constant performance and battery efficiency did not drop sharply. The only thing I felt after 7 “pushing hard” laps was an increase of inside temperature that made me roll down the window.
Driving the car was thrilling with its strong output and unstoppable speed around the corners. It’s even more amazing considering the heavy situation of the body and floor. With this much car movement on the track, it seems like you’ll experience a more exhilarating taste on a normal winding road. On the one hand, it’s amazing how this movement was implemented. I applaud the engineer’s efforts.
The IONIQ 5 N is affordable if you consider all the functions a high-performance electric vehicle like this implement. It’s full of features that can increase driving fun, and you need to build up your skills by becoming one body for a long time. It simply means that it is difficult to evaluate the car after riding for a few days. It presents the charm of the extreme according to the situation and atmosphere with infinite skills. It is hard for the occupants to get out of the temptation of the car and remain a deep and unforgettable aftertaste. The IONIQ 5 N is the car that clears the prejudice that electric cars couldn’t be fun.
The IONIQ 5 N is already available in South Korea and will be soon available in UK, Europe, Australia and U.S. before Spring starts.