The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the best EV we’ve driven in 2021 – Ars Technica

A cutting-edge electric car parked on a street.
Enlarge / Hyundai’s striking new Ioniq 5 EV was worth the wait.

Jonathan Gitlin

SAN DIEGO—In 2020, Hyundai Motor Group revealed it had developed a new platform, purely for battery electric vehicles. Its smaller, earlier EVs have gotten impressively close to Tesla-levels of powertrain efficiency, and these days the Korean automaker is at or near the head of the class in terms of quality and reliability.

So the excitement was palpable when we learned that this new “Electric-Global Modular Platform” (or E-GMP) was intended for larger, more powerful EVs with either rear- or all-wheel drive, with an 800 V electrical architecture, the ability to fast-charge in 18 minutes, and the ability to power AC devices easily. That excitement only grew when we got our first look at the Hyundai Ioniq 5—the first of those EVs—back in February.

In fact, if I’d been paying more attention at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show, I would have seen the Ioniq 5, barely disguised as a concept called the 45. The design team, led by SangYup Lee, channeled some of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s angular and boxy energy into the Ioniq 5’s proportions. The 45 concept is meant to pay homage to a 1974 concept that Giugiaro penned for the Korean brand, but to my eyes, it’s more reminiscent of a 1980s Lancia Delta. Except scaled up by 19 percent.

The Ioniq 5 has perfect proportions, but it's about 20 percent bigger than you think.
Enlarge / The Ioniq 5 has perfect proportions, but it’s about 20 percent bigger than you think.

Jonathan Gitlin

The sharp looks and those spot-on proportions flatter the Ioniq 5. This is no small hatchback—Hyundai actually calls it a compact SUV. That’s sure to spark some arguments about pigeonholing, but the incontrovertible facts are that it’s 182.5 inches (4,636 mm) long, and 74.4 inches (1,890 mm) wide, 63 inches (1,600 mm) tall. So it’s much bigger than something like a Volkswagen Golf but just smaller than a Tesla Model Y. Curb weight varies from 4,200-4,662 lbs (1,905-2,115 kg) depending on the powertrain and trim.

But the Ioniq 5 has a remarkably long wheelbase: 118.1 inches (3,000 mm). That’s longer than the Tesla or a Porsche Taycan. It’s an even longer wheelbase than Hyundai’s much bigger three-row Palisade SUV. And that translates to a spacious and airy interior for both front and rear occupants.

The interior has a completely flat floor and a healthy use of recycled materials—old plastic bottles have gone into the armrests and seats, bioplastic from sugarcane contributes to the headlining and carpets, recycled Tyvek fibers show up in trim panels, and the dashboard and door-panel paint uses polyurethane derived from bean oil.

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