When I was growing up, a typical Hyundai was something like a first or second-generation Accent. A car lacking any reason to pull you away from the more ‘traditional’ options other than price. No one bought a Hyundai because they wanted a Hyundai - they got one purely for boring fiscal reasons.
Right now, the picture is very different. And I’m not just talking about the rapid rise of the company’s sporty N division, which we were most recently discussing after a drive in the surprisingly angry Kona N. Throughout the range there are great cars, and also something that looks like it’s from the future - the Ioniq 5.
It’s about as far removed from those humdrum old Accents as is possible with its ‘Parametric Pixel’ lights, two-tone colour scheme, 20-inch wheels and clamshell front bonnet. Inside, there’s an airy cabin with a flat floor, and two 12-inch screens - one for the infotainment, and another for the infotainment cluster.
Looking at its proportions (which, as has been pointed out, make the Ioniq 5 look like a futuristic Austin Maestro, but in a good way), you might think this thing is C-segment hatchback sized. It’s not, though - the Ioniq 5 is closer in length to a Golf estate than a Golf hatch.
Our test car was the 73kWh rear-wheel drive version in Ultimate trim, one of the most expensive versions in the range at £44,690. The priciest is the 301bhp all-wheel drive Ultimate car with the same size battery at £47,890, while the cheapest makes do with a 58kWh pack and 168bhp to reduce the price to £37,420.
The rear-drive 73kWh car is good for 214bhp and 258lb ft of torque, providing a 0-62mph time of 7.4 seconds. For an electric car intended for normal folk, that kind of thrust is plenty. And while that torque figure could be delivered instantaneously, Hyundai has given the car a more gentle throttle, sharpened up only slightly when in Sport mode.
Before you do anything, though, you need to select drive, which is done by rotating the end of a large appendage thing just below the wiper stalks. With no conventional gear selector, there’s only a cupholder semi-separating the front seats. Handy if you need to seat hop, perhaps if you’ve parked close to a wall and can’t exit on the driver’s side.
As we often see with more modestly powered EVs, it’s only in the first second or so of full-throttle acceleration that the Ioniq 5 feels fast, but a quick look at the digital speedometer will always show a respectably brisk gathering of speed.
Although the rear-mounted motor makes for the occasional amusing tail-happy moment, the Ioniq 5 is generally more interested in understeer. It’s a heavy car, this, with a kerb weight approaching two tonnes, and this shows when you try and take a corner quickly. The steering is also a little vague, making placing the front end a little trickier than we’d like.
It does all it needs to dynamically, though, with decent grip and traction, plus an acceptable amount of body roll. In terms of the chassis, the ride is going to be of more concern to the sort of person wanting to buy one, since it can be a little brittle at times even in Comfort mode. Refinement is very good, however, with low noise at cruising speeds even without engine noise to hide anything nasty.
Where the Ioniq 5 really shines is an area where many EVs we’ve tested haven’t done so well - efficiency. Getting the miles per kWh figure over three took little effort, and the best we managed over a single journey was 3.7 miles per kWh, despite spending a lot of it over 50mph. In a mix of driving, the 280-mile range should be very much achievable.
When you’re out of juice, the Ioniq 5 also supports 800-volt charging, making it possible to ‘brim’ the battery cells from 10 to 80 per cent in under 20 minutes. Plugged into a 10.5kW wall box, a full charge will take about six hours.
Although the Hyundai’s big-boned nature means it’ll take up more driveway space than anticipated, the payoff is a roomy interior and a decent amount of luggage space, even though the boot floor sits high due to the battery pack location. There’s a total of 527 litres available, some of which is in a dinky little frunk under the big bonnet. Fold the rear seats flat, and you can chuck in 1587 litres, an almost estate car-like figure. Ikea trips will be dispatched with ease even if you buy one too many Kallax shelving units.
There’s a whole lot to like here, and not much to grumble about. The price is pretty steep, but in line with the spendier nature of EVs right now. It may not quite excite and engage in the way the BMW i4 does, but as far as interesting, practical and stylish electric transportation goes, the Ioniq 5 might just be unbeatable.