If you thought the Hyundai Ioniq 5 looked like a reborn '80s hot hatch before, get a load of the new Ioniq 5 N. All angular and bulgy, this compact crossover wears its performance duds well, with 21-inch wheels pushed out to all four corners, a meaner face, functional aero upgrades and cute little bright red accents. (You've gotta have cute little bright red accents.)
Even better, this pocket-rocket get-up isn't just for show. There's a bona fide sports car underneath that retro-cool skin. Quick, rowdy and packed with modes and settings ripe for the fiddling, the Ioniq 5 N says, "Oh, you think our electric future is going to be boring? Here, let me show you the way."
How N goes electric
Turning an Ioniq 5 into an Ioniq 5 N isn't just about boosting power, but that's certainly a good place to start. The N has an 84-kilowatt-hour battery pack and two electric motors — one at each axle — and you can even manually adjust the torque distribution to send as much as 100% to either axle. Feel like giving the 5 N a front-wheel-drive feel? Do it. Rather play around with rear-wheel drive? Go ahead. The world's your oyster.
As for output, the pair of motors makes a combined 601 horsepower and 545 pound-feet of torque, though you can up the former to 641 hp for brief bursts using the N Grin Boost button on the steering wheel. With launch control activated, Hyundai says the Ioniq 5 N can accelerate to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, which isn't bad, considering this is a compact electric crossover that weighs 2.2 tons.
The N benefits from the Ioniq 5's 800-volt architecture, meaning it can handle fast charging speeds of up to 238 kW. Hyundai will let you precondition the battery for track use, too, which is said to give more consistent performance over the long run. Former R&D boss Albert Biermann said the goal was to be able to do "20, 20, 20" – 20 minutes of lapping, 20 minutes of charging, and 20 minutes of lapping again. On top of that, Biermann mandated that the Ioniq 5 N should be able to complete two laps of the notoriously challenging Nürburgring Nordschleife without any performance degradation.
More exciting in every way
Compared to a standard Ioniq 5, the N is 2.0 inches wider and 3.2 inches longer, which gives it a nicer stance and greater curb appeal. Larger 15.7-inch front and 14.2-inch brakes sit behind those 21-inch wheels, and you can still drive the Ioniq 5 in one-pedal mode, with varying levels of regen available via the paddle shifters. Going one step further, there's an N Pedal setting that increases the regenerative force for track duty, so it's sort of like a one-pedal race mode, providing up to 0.6 g of deceleration.
It's really fun to bomb around a track this way, lifting your foot and feeling the N's nose dive like it would under hard braking. The car remains composed and surefooted during its regenerative braking, though, so be confident that you can use N Pedal without needing to radically change your driving style. When you do need additional mechanical stopping force, the transition between electronic and physical braking is imperceptible.
Bombing around is definitely what this thing does best; the Ioniq 5 N has the same rowdy spirit that Hyundai bakes into all its N cars (shoutout to the Elantra N, Kona N and rest-in-peace Veloster N). The quick steering is full of communication and the Ioniq 5 N genuinely feels like it wants to be chucked into a corner, clipping every red-and-white-striped curb. Stiffer suspension components work wonders to keep the Ioniq 5 N flat through turns, and having that big battery ballast in the middle of the chassis is a boon for overall handling, too.
Give a shift – no, really
Like most modern EVs, the Ioniq 5 N has a few different powertrain sounds that can be piped into the cabin. There's the usual spaceshippy futuristic sound, and another that's supposed to mimic the noise of a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Unfortunately, neither is particularly high quality: I've heard better sounds from '90s video games. Yet I still find myself driving with the turbo-four soundtrack on.
That's because the Ioniq 5 N has an incredibly cool feature called N E-Shift which tweaks the powertrain software to make the car feel like it's got an internal combustion engine and dual-clutch automatic transmission. I know this might sound hokey, but not only does it work, it absolutely enhances the experience. The car lurches and there are power peaks and valleys. The transmission kicks with each fake gear change and the 'exhaust' snaps, crackles, and pops.
Feel like taking matters into your own hands? Go for it. The regen paddles on the steering wheel can become faux gear-shifters in N E-Shift mode, and yes, you can 'rev' the motor to high heaven and the car will buck as you bang off the imaginary rev limiter. On a race track, this is a sensory joy, and it really heightens the experience of throwing this thing around a circuit. I even like having the N E-Shift activated in normal road use. Try it — it's rad.
Same great interior, same great tech
Make no mistake, the Ioniq 5 N is first and foremost a performance car, but it's not so stiffly sprung or hard to tame that you couldn't use it as a daily driver. Slogging through South Korean traffic, the N is as pleasant as a standard Ioniq 5, with comfortable seats, great visibility, and a whole mess of standard driver-assistance features.
Cabin tech is also in high supply: every Ioniq 5 N has a pair of 12.3-inch displays atop the dashboard, and hey, major plus, the infotainment system finally supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. You'll find a wireless charging pad in the redesigned center console, which is N-specific in that it's not the movable setup from the regular Ioniq 5, and there are little knee pads for the driver and passenger – you know, for those serious cornering situations.
Rear passengers have as much head- and legroom as they do in a regular Ioniq 5 N, and the hatch is large and useful, too. Another fun fact: Hyundai added a rear wiper to the back of the Ioniq 5 N, which is something that should've been on the standard car all along. Here's hoping every Ioniq 5 gets one of these soon.
Can't get here soon enough
The first round of Ioniq 5 Ns won't arrive at Hyundai dealers until March 2024, meaning there are still a few important details we don't yet know. Range will likely be announced in the coming months, but you can bet the N will take a hit over the Ioniq 5 Long Range AWD's 260 miles.
Pricing is also TBD at the moment, and this could prove to be a pain point for some customers. Hyundai's internal combustion N cars have always been surprisingly affordable, but considering the N-ified EV builds off a fully loaded Ioniq 5, I won't be shocked if its starting MSRP lands somewhere between $65,000 and $70,000.
Then again, it's not like the Ioniq 5 N has any legitimate competition in the EV space. Its closest foe is actually its sibling: the Kia EV6 GT. That said, the Ioniq 5 N is significantly — and I mean significantly — more interesting and exciting to drive. The EV6 GT just feels like a quick EV6, but the Ioniq 5 N is an all-out animal.
More than anything, though, the Ioniq 5 N makes me stoked for the future of Hyundai's performance products. Knowing that the company is able to keep its N cars' bombastic spirit going strong with an electric powertrain means we have a lot to look forward to. Ioniq 6 N, anyone? I bet one of those would rip.