After a test drive in the electric car, Autocar’s technical correspondent has had to think again
I bought a Kia e-Niro earlier in the year and reckon it’s the most accomplished, affordable, long-range EV on the market. But when I first clapped eyes on the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s Giugiaro-inspired lines, with more than a nod to the Lancia Integrale, it got me thinking about an early switch.
After a couple of months of enthusiastic marketing by Hyundai, my local dealer finally got one in the showroom. The car was the spec I was interested in: the Premium, rear-wheel-drive model with 214bhp and 73kWh battery giving nearly 300 miles on WLTP. The additional range and 800V ultra-rapid charging were major considerations as I do longer journeys fairly often, so charge speed and extra range would make all the difference.
In the metal, the Ioniq 5 is a real, knock-your-socks-off stunner. Breathtaking, in fact. And huge. The e-Niro doesn’t lack for leg room in the back but the rear cabin of the Ioniq 5 looks like a party room. Same thing in the front, with open floor space and the glass cockpit above it. In the first 100 metres it struck me as quiet, hugely refined, cocooning from the racket outside and smooth riding on the fairly decent Edinburgh roads I was on.
It’s a game-changer, no doubt, and not just because of the dedicated platform and striking design. It’s a game-changer partly because all the benchmarks on size and class of car have been knocked askew. Its three-metre wheelbase gives it the feel of a large, premium family car, trading some sharpness and agility for a less edgy feel.
It looks like a hot hatch but doesn’t drive like it looks. It still accelerates rapidly but with slightly less torque, and carrying a couple of hundred kilos more weight, it’s a notch below the slightly bonkers response of my e-Niro.
My eyes had deceived me. The Ioniq 5 doesn’t strike me as a car I’d want to hustle along a great road for the hell of it; it’s a large, relaxing, family car and the price reflects that. At over £42,500 in this spec, I’d be paying for extra space I didn’t need and a driving experience I wasn’t looking for.
What I’d like is a hatchback with a 300-mile range, ultra-rapid charging, no more interior space than the e-Niro and a dedicated architecture, so shorter overall with a similar wheelbase. Oh, and Ioniq 5 looks with a price tag of under £35,000 to qualify for the plug-in grant while it lasts.
So having recalibrated my expectations of how new dedicated EV architectures are shaping next-generation EVs, I walked away from the brilliant Ioniq 5 a little disconsolate that it wasn’t quite, after all, the new-tech performance hatch of my dreams. But at least I now have an idea of what is.
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