Hyundai's latest EV might look like a hatch, but its proportions put it closer to an SUV. Whichever way you measure it up, though, it's a rapid performer and truly feels like a product of tomorrow.

If there’s one thing I wish we saw more of with electric vehicles, it’s real deviation from automotive design norms. With skateboard architecture allowing for an approach to bodywork similar to coachbuilding, and a lack of interior constraints thanks to skateboard architecture eliminating the need for a transmission tunnel, the sky could be the limit for most EVs.

Most EVs, however, have actually felt pretty conventional up to this point – excluding, of course, Tesla’s falcon doors, one-screen setup, and questionable yoke steering wheel. Perhaps there’s something to be said for it – making an EV feel more ‘normal’ would be less of a shock to the system – but in my eyes, if you’re building something futuristic, make it feel futuristic.

Fortunately, the 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 has come along just at the right time to show how an EV should be done. Built on a dedicated platform with both 2WD and AWD versions available, the latter of which is what’s on test here, it might look like a hatch but is closer dimensionally to a small SUV, meaning it nicely treads the line in a way that will endear it to city and country buyers alike.

Personally, I think the styling is absolutely fantastic. The cyberpunk design language that’s slowly sweeping the car market is ideally on show here with its grid patterns, full-width lightbars, body-line creases, go-fast wheel arch motifs, and complex wheel designs – all enhanced further by the Digital Teal Green paint. From some angles, I can even see a bit of Lancia Delta Integrale in there as well. No wonder it’s a head-turner – it looks in some ways familiar, but in others unlike anything else out there right now.

Likewise, the interior has some semblances of familiarity but simultaneously feels like a product of tomorrow. The dual displays next to each other on a big shared panel, for instance, will no doubt remind of what you’ll find in many Mercedes-Benz models. Despite that hint of familiarity, the second you hop inside it, it’s clear that it’s unlike any other car out there right now – note that I say right now, though, as prototypes like the Nissan Ariya demonstrate we’ll see more of this interior design language.

It feels incredibly spacious, and there’s a lot that goes into that – the perfectly flat floor, big glasshouse with a panoramic sunroof, off-white eco leather upholstery, extensive multi-colour ambient lighting, retractable blinds in the rear doors, and sliding centre console all play a big part in helping it feel more like your living room than the interior of a car. Only furthering this is the fact the front seats are fully reclinable at the press of just one button – ideal for a nap while you’re waiting for it to charge.

Currently only offered in Australia in a single fully-loaded specification, with more affordable variants due further down the track, it comes loaded with all the usual kit and caboodle you’ll find in other similarly-positioned Hyundais. It features dual 12.3-inch displays for the infotainment system and instrumentation, wireless phone charging, an eight-speaker Bose audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and LED headlights, and all the driver assistance tech you could hope for including Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability.

If there’s one disappointing omission, though, it’s that it doesn’t have wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – you’ll need to bring a cable if you’re wanting to use either. I must also take some issue when it comes to storage space as well. I love the glovebox which actually slides out like a drawer, and the boot floor is very wide; however, it isn’t that deep and there’s practically no storage under the boot floor due to additional batteries that are there. There isn’t a proper frunk like on many other EVs either, although there is at least a small storage box for charging cables.

Truthfully, unless you run a business selling Georgian tallboys, the Ioniq 5’s boot is totally adequate. Sure, the packaging could be better, but the prioritisation of cabin space is far more worth it in my eyes – especially when it’s spacious enough for a family of giants inside.

Being electric, though, the Ioniq 5 isn’t all about boring things like practicality – it’s just as much about performance. Believe it or not, this all-wheel drive model is actually the fastest car Hyundai currently sells.

Deriving its power from a 72.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the all-wheel drive model features one electric motor on each axle – the front produces 70kW and 255Nm and the rear makes 155kW and 350Nm – which combine for a very healthy total of 225kW and 605Nm. Despite its unbelievable heft of 2100kg, it’s enough to get it from 0-100km/h in just 5.2 seconds. Yep – faster, even, than a dual-clutch i30 N.

While it certainly doesn’t have quite the same sting as a Tesla Model 3 Performance, there’s no doubt you’ll leave other motorists surprised with the way it tears away at the lights. With maximum torque available instantaneously and its Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres helping it claw into the ground below, it definitely gives you a decent taste of the G-forces you’ll experience in the even more powerful EVs out there.

Of course, the entire operation as it rockets its way to triple-digit speeds is absolutely silent, which is why I must commend its cabin for remaining particularly quiet at these speeds. It also still feels punchy when you put your foot down at higher speeds as well – thank its 2.263 reduction gear ratio and 4.706 final drive ratio which is taller than you’d get in most EVs.

Despite its 20-inch alloys, the ride quality around town is undoubtedly impressive, with its adept absorption of bumps only adding to the serene experience. It’s a decent handler despite the weight as well – it leans a bit in the bends, but certainly not as much as most small SUVs would.

However, the suspension damping on such country roads – and at higher speeds in general – could do with a little work, as the body control over bumps isn’t quite as good as you’d expect if you’ve driven other recent Hyundai products. That’s mainly down to it not having a unique Australian suspension tune, and merely Australian input on a global tune. Had it been localised, I don’t doubt for a second this wouldn’t be a problem.

The lack of body control also shows itself when sitting on the freeway using its lane tracing system. In most other Hyundais, this Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system is so good you’ll feel totally comfortable taking your hands off the wheel for a second to change the temperature or radio station and letting the car manage itself. Here, it wavers enough to feel disconcerting at times, particularly on roads with less clearly-marked lines.

Don’t think it’s a lost cause in any way because of these niggles, though, as the Ioniq 5 is still incredibly good fun to drive. On a backroad, it’s an absolute rocket between bends, and its well-weighted steering is certainly a highlight.

It’s easily tailored to each driver’s tastes thanks to its impressive regenerative braking system as well. Controlled by the paddles on the back of the strangely unbranded steering wheel, you have the option to let the car automatically and fluidly determine how much regen is required, flick between three different preset levels manually, or enable one-pedal driving so you never even need to touch the brakes with your right foot. Personally, I found the auto mode to be so good that I left it in that most of the time, but the fact it has that level of configurability means all drivers should be happy.

Of course, range and energy consumption are going to be important considerations for many in Australia, but the Hyundai Ioniq 5 offers more than enough for the majority of buyers. All-wheel drive models deliver a claimed 430km on the WLTP cycle, based off energy consumption of 19.0kWh/100km.Rear-wheel drive models, which use a sole 160kW/350Nm motor, can go even further, achieving a claimed 451km per charge.

After 425km of driving in the AWD model, I managed 19.9kWh/100km even after considerable stints sitting on the freeway and driving like a loon; expect to better that sticking to the city as 100km staying around Adelaide saw energy consumption of just 16.1kWh/100km.

Given it’s a big battery pack, fully charging it will take 31 hours with the portable emergency charger I had to rely on when charging at home. However, a proper home charging station should get you to 80 percent in just over six hours, and a 50kW fast charger will do it in just under 62 minutes.

It does have a bit of a party trick up its sleeve in the way of its award-winning vehicle-to-load (V2L) system. For those with a home charging station, you’ll be able to use the car to power your home in the event of a blackout. It can also be used to top up the batteries of stranded EVs as well – call that tomorrow’s equivalent of siphoning fuel, except far less unpleasant.

Keep the performance, technology, and forward-thinking capabilities such as its V2L system in mind, and I honestly don’t take much issue with its $75,990 list price. There’s no question in my eyes that you’re getting your money’s worth – especially if you live in a state or country where you’re afforded with tax breaks or rebates for purchasing an EV. The only problem is you won’t be able to get your hands on one for a while as the initial Australian allocation sold out like tickets to a BTS concert.

With a sedan and a large SUV already in the works for the Ioniq sub-brand over the coming few years, I don’t doubt the appetites of many will have been whetted by the Ioniq 5, and certainly, it’s absolutely whetted mine. It’s the electric hot hatch I’ve been wishing someone would make. Just… bigger.

2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 AWD List Price: $75,900
  • 8.5/10
    Performance - 8.5/10
  • 8/10
    Ride & Handling - 8/10
  • 9/10
    Tech & Features - 9/10
  • 8/10
    Practicality - 8/10
  • 8/10
    Value for Money - 8/10

Pros: Truly forward-thinking design, AWD model delivers serious straight-line performance, quiet and incredibly comfortable, range would be enough for the vast majority of buyers
Cons: Boot space is a little shallow and not much of a frunk, body control and damping could benefit from local tuning, no wireless CarPlay, currently sold-out at the time of publication

In a nutshell: The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 shows that the Korean marque is well on its way to becoming one of the EV frontrunners in years to come. With serious performance and a truly forward-thinking interior, this is what EVs should be all about. 

Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Hyundai Motor Company Australia for a week with a full charge upon collection.

Patrick Jackson
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