First drive of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Ultimate - a rival to Tesla?

There was a time not so long ago when Tesla had the EV market pretty much cornered – but no longer
First drive of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Ultimate - a rival to Tesla?

What began as a trickle of slim pickings from a handful of rival manufacturers has quickly turned into a tsunami, and one of those riding the crest of a wave is Hyundai with its new Ioniq 5.


VW has ‘ID’, BMW settled for ‘i’ and Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall chose ‘e’ to help differentiate its EVs. Hyundai has gone down a similar route but dreamt up the ‘Ioniq’ sub-brand for its battery-powered cars. It started with the five-door Ioniq hatchback, then the Ioniq 5, and arriving at dealers in the coming weeks is the Ioniq 6 saloon.

As for the car in question, the early signs are very promising. In truth, they are nothing short of impressive, especially when it comes to styling which we will come on to in just a minute. For those captivated by what they see, Hyundai offers the Ioniq 5 in ‘Premium’, ‘Ultimate’ and new-for-2023 ‘Namsan Edition’ flavours in both two- and all-wheel-drive configurations. Prices start at £43,095 for entry-level cars and climb to – wait for it – a bank busting £57,595.

As costly as the new Ioniq 5 is, there can be no doubting its breadth of abilities that should guarantee it is unlikely to be left in the slow lane by its pricier rivals.


Believe it or not but the Ioniq 5 has been around since 2021 – not that you would think it judging by the way it looks. If anything, it remains as cool today as it did two years ago. Sci-fi styling makes it really difficult to ignore, and everywhere we ventured in it excitable looks, some bewildered faces and a few pointed fingers became the norm for a car that is going to appeal to those motorists motivated by striking design.

Crisp lines, squared-off angles, pixelated lighting front and rear, and colours that lead you to overlook the presence of wheel arch surrounds and protective lower sills contribute to a retro-modern vibe.

These aspects also help to hide the Ioniq 5’s sheer size; while it may be longer than Volkswagen’s ID.4 and sit a smidge taller (40mm) in comparison to a Jaguar I-Pace, these are not immediately noticeable in a car that crams in limousine-like levels of leg room and a boot that weighs-in at 527-litres if the back seats are occupied.


We have briefly mentioned how spacious the Ioniq 5 is on the inside. The reason? Engineers have taken maximum advantage of the ‘e-GMP’ platform that lies underneath, the same architecture that underpins the equally excellent Kia EV6. The absence of a fixed central tunnel allows for a flat floor and engineers have made full use of it by adding a centre console, with cup holders and useful storage, that can be moved forward or backward – much like in Nissan’s Ariya.

Material choice is in keeping with this car’s high-ticket price and that goes for standard equipment, too. Two massive 12.3-inch colour screens – one bearing all the usual information on speed, charge levels and regeneration, and the other multimedia options and sat-nav instructions – is joined by a head-up display, a seven speaker Bose stereo backed up by a subwoofer, and front chairs that are electrically operated, heated and ventilated. It all combines to create a truly luxurious cabin.

First drive of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Ultimate - a rival to Tesla?


Before we answer that question, it’s probably worth exploring how far you can reasonably expect to go in-between top-ups in the Ioniq 5. Rear- and all-wheel-drive powertrains can be selected and that gives motorists the choice of a standard range (58kWh) or long-range (77kWh) battery pack. In ‘Eco’ mode, Hyundai claims 315-miles by going down the single e-motor and larger pack configuration, and north of 260-miles for the dual motor arrangement.

As for charging, the Ioniq 5 is unique in that it allows for both 400 or 800-volt charging so linked to a 100kW public charger you can expect to get 80% of charge back in around 35 minutes – or double that when connected up to a 50kW point. Mercifully, fast charging capability is standard and there are four steps of regeneration for the solid feeling brakes, including a single-pedal mode.


You can’t get away from the fact that with such a big battery on board, the Ioniq 5 is an obese car; tipping the scales at 1.9 tonnes, this nameplate comes down on the side of comfort. That said, the instant kick of torque from the two e-motors ensures it is nippy off the line with only a teeny hint of whine as the numbers on the digital speed climb quicker than you can read them off.

Quiet and well-damped, owners can also look forward to steering that is tremendously fluid and well-weighty which means the miles will roll. It is not a particularly fun car (we would recommend you adjust your gaze in the direction of Kia’s EV6 for that) but body roll is kept in check and the bigger 20-inch wheels offer secure traction.


The Ioniq 5 is one of the most forward thinking and exciting EVs to hit the market for a number of reasons. One of the most intriguing is the ‘V2L Pack’ – or vehicle to load. Choose this and you can use your car as a power bank on wheels, energising everything from a kitchen kettle via a 3-pin socket under the rear sears to juicing up another EV via an adaptor on the charge port.


Walk around the Ioniq 5 and it reveals an array of intriguing design cues, with these really coming alive at night. ‘Parametric Pixel’ technology is deployed into the ‘cubic’ light clusters and the car has a special signature on the top edge of the front bumper to help it really stand-out at night. Our test car wore the larger 20-inch alloy wheels and came finished in ‘Shooting Star Grey’.


This is another of the Ioniq 5’s key strengths and it boils down to those king-size dimensions. At 4,635mm long and 1,890-mm wide the net result is a cabin that has a truly big feel whether you are a small child or a six-foot-tall adult. Better still, the rear bench has a handy sliding function to either maximise legroom by moving it back or raise boot space by pushing it forward.


Hyundai’s designers have settled on a mix of touchscreen inputs and physical shortcut buttons for the main dash area, and while the vivid graphics of the dual 12.3-inch displays cannot be faulted, the backlight ventilation panel does seem a little out of place. Standard kit is strong on the Ioniq 5, whiles mobile charging ports, cubbies and drinks holders are all within easy reach.


  • Show-stopping looks
  • Lounge-like interior
  • Comfortable dynamics
  • Cost could deter some
  • Feels big at the wheel
  • Big boot isn’t the biggest


Price: £53,095 (as tested)

Engine: 77.4kWh battery, 2 e-motors

Power/torque: 321bhp/446lb ft

Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

0-62mph: 5.1 seconds

Top speed: 115mph

Range: 315-miles

First drive of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Ultimate - a rival to Tesla?


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