The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the first car built on Hyundai’s new 800-volt Electric Global Modular Platform, or E-GMP. It’s an industrial-looking, retro-futuristic little hatchback that shares bones with the much less retro, more aggressive Kia EV6. But even though the two cars share platforms, they are both vastly different and both thoroughly good.
As a juror for the German Car of the Year competition, I had the chance to briefly drive the two vehicles built on Hyundai’s 800-volt Electric Global Modular Platform. I already downloaded my thoughts on the EV6 in my short review in early September; I am a fan. It’s not a huge surprise, then, that I like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 that shares the EV6's bones.
But don’t for a second think the two cars are the same. They may share underpinnings, but the two vehicles have thoroughly different souls.
A key factor that makes the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and its sibling the Kia EV6 so compelling is the 800-volt architecture. We’ve seen this on more expensive cars like the Porsche Taycan and its platform-mate the Audi E-Tron GT, but never on mainstream, budget (ish) vehicles. This matters because one of the things holding electric vehicles back from mass adoption, other than infrastructure and pricing, is charging time.
People will always compare charging duration to the time it takes to fill an internal combustion engine vehicle’s tank with enough gas to travel an equal distance. That’s the measuring stick, and it will be for some time; the closer automakers can get to gasoline vehicles’ fill-up times relative to distance traveled, the better.
A higher voltage electrical system is one lever automakers can use to reduce charging times, although there are other benefits to a high-voltage system, including reduced wiring thickness due to reduced current flow needed to yield the same power. And Hyundai and Kia are proud to tell you that they have pulled that lever.
The brands claim a charging time of only 18 minutes from 10 percent to 80 percent. With each car EPA-certified at roughly 300 miles of range in rear-wheel-drive form, you can expect to add about 200 miles in about 20 minutes if you can find the right charger (and that is a pretty big if, to be sure). If you don’t want to sit that long at a charger, Hyundai and Kia say it’s possible to add more than 60 miles of range in just five minutes. Those figures, which apply to the two vehicles’ optional 77.4 kWh battery (the standard pack is 58 kWh), are fantastic.
For comparison, the Porsche Taycan is said to be able to charge its larger battery pack (93.4 kWh) from 5 percent to 80 percent in 22.5 minutes, though it’s worth noting that at 100 percent, the Taycan’s range is only 225 miles if you believe the EPA. Per Porsche’s claims, the EV sports sedan can add 60-ish miles of range in roughly the same duration as the Kia and Hyundai.
As is typical in this segment, Hyundai and Kia’s E-GMP platform uses a MacPherson strut setup in the front and a multilink suspension out back. The 58 kWh and 77.4 kWh battery packs use Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (in ratios of 80 percent, 10 percent, 10 percent, respectively) pouch cells.
The two vehicles can be had in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive guise. In Europe, where I was driving the two vehicles a few months back, base rear-drive models with the smaller battery pack make 168 horsepower. With the bigger battery pack, the rear-drive Ioniq 5 makes 214 horsepower while the EV6 cranks out ~225.
Add a front motor for all-wheel drive, and the Ioniq with the smaller battery pack gets 232 horsepower (the EV6 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive with the smaller battery pack). With the bigger pack and all-wheel drive, the Ioniq 5 makes 301 horsepower, while the Kia makes ~320; a 576 horsepower GT-trim Kia EV6 is forthcoming, Kia says.
U.S. figures are a bit different. If I understand correctly, U.S. customers can get either a 225 horsepower rear-wheel-drive model (302 miles of EPA-rated range) or a 320 horsepower all-wheel-drive model (256 miles of EPA-rated range), both with the big pack. A base rear-drive model with the smaller 58 kWh pack (220 miles of range) will come later, though I’m not sure the horsepower figure on that configuration.
I plan to write a thorough deep-dive on E-GMP in the future, but for now, I’ll stay focused on my impressions of the Ioniq 5. You can have a look at the platform — which features motors (hooked up to single-speed gear reductions), inverters and power electronics in stack formations on the front and rear subframes separated by a large battery pack — in the video above.
Let’s delve into the differences between the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 because I’m impressed by how the sibling brands went about distinguishing their cars from one another. This is nothing like the new Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra relationship — two vehicles that not only share a (e-TNGA) platform but also body panels and interiors. No, the average person would be hard-pressed to find any indication that the EV6 and Ioniq 5 were built by the same parent company.
The obvious differences begin with the exteriors. There’s not a single panel that’s common between the two similarly-sized crossovers. The doors, hoods, and even pillars are totally different. The A-pillar on the Kia looks steeper than that of the Ioniq 5, the roof looks more upright and even the tumblehome (the amount that the sides of the cars lean in towards the center) seems less dramatic.
The Kia has prominent bulges at the front fenders and rear quarter panels, while the Hyundai has a flatter side profile.
In the industry, you’d say the two cars have different “tophats” in much the same way that, say, a Dodge Caliber and Jeep Compass share bones underneath but look totally different from the rocker panels up.
Whereas the Kia looks like an angry shark, the Ioniq 5 gives off chill vibes. The Hyundai looks futuristic, with its rectangular front daytime running lights and dot-matrix-ish rear lighting.
The whole profile is more upright, the wicker basket-like wheels contrast with the Kia’s aggressive five-spokes, and the Hyundai’s hood is taller. It has a blunt, almost vertical front end that may or may not be a factor in its slightly lower EPA-rated range.
The glossy black strip between the headlights adds to the Ioniq 5's robotic look, as does the lack of grille texture thanks to the active grille shutters that double as class-A surfaces.
The video above provides a close look at the Ioniq 5’s fascinating styling, paying special attention to the lighting.
There are lots of things that I love about the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s interior. I love the column-mounted shifter, for one. It’s a great way to use space that would otherwise go wasted, and it’s intuitive to use. You twist the silver end of the shifter stalk clockwise for drive and counter-clockwise for reverse, and you press the button at the end to put the vehicle into park.
I also love the lack of a full-length center console:
Look at how simple the cubby is; it seems like a great place to put a handbag.
Plus, there’s some storage under the armrest, and there’s a button at the front of the base that allows the console to slide fore-aft, making it easier for a driver or passenger to slide across to exit or enter to/from the door on the far side. (You might do this if, for example, a car is parked too close to one of the doors.)
Check out the nice, flat floor:
You know what the flat floor would be ideal for? Human feet — specifically those of a center passenger. Yes, Hyundai. You need to offer a bench seat. You’re marketing this car as a chill, relaxed EV, and what’s more chill than a front bench? Answer: Nothing.
Step your game up.
I’m also a fan of the paddles behind the steering wheel. They’re used to control how aggressively regenerative braking slows the vehicle while coasting, and they work well.
I also dig the white iPad-style infotainment display and gauge cluster slapped on the dash. I find the fabric speaker-looking magnetic board (which Hyundai says is “ideal for posting pictures and notes just like on a refrigerator”) on the left side interesting.
The screens are clear and bright, and the cameras are all reasonably high-quality, showing a crisp image on the center screen.
In addition, the Hyundai’s rear visibility is a significant step up from that of the EV6.
Plus, I think the power leg rests are a fun touch, though I’ll admit I didn’t try them out.
Cargo space is decent. The volume in the rear isn’t as deep as you might hope due to the drivetrain being back there, but there is a frunk.
Hyundai focused on interior passenger volume over cargo space, so instead of having the HVAC behind the dash as you’d expect from most modern cars, Hyundai and Kia, like Volkswagen with its MEB platform, have placed their HVAC module at the front of the car. And like Volkswagen, this means Hyundai and Kia have compromised on frunk space.
You can see the small plastic frunk bin on the all-wheel-drive model above.
The rear-drive gets a deeper frunk; I can appreciate that Hyundai and Kia found a way to get a frunk there at all, whereas VW just didn’t bother.
Speaking of storage, I also dig that glovebox that slides out drawer-style instead of dropping down like most gloveboxes (including the one in the Kia) do. It’s different, and I like different.
But different isn’t always a good thing, and I think the steering wheel proves that. The Kia EV6's two-spoke wheel isn’t pretty, I’ll admit. But the Hyundai’s is just bad. Come on: a blank wheel?
I get what Kia was going for; the brand wants this cabin to feel understated and chill. And I can appreciate that designers put some texture on that center airbag cover, but it just looks cheap. My coworker’s $1,200 Changli that he bought from Chinese e-commerce site Alibiba has a steering wheel that doesn’t look much worse, and I obviously don’t need to point out how sad that is. If you’re going to forego a badge on the center of the steering wheel, at least cover it in a nice fabric or something.
That wheel, along with the bland black dash and doors — along with some of the material choices (though overall I found materials to be fine) — does a lot to tip the Ioniq 5's interior over a boundary from “elegantly understated” to underwhelming.
The good news is that you can option up your Ioniq 5 to bring the interior from “cheap” back into the “classy” category. The steering wheel is still a problem, but the white seats, the white bits of the center console, the white lower dash, and the white door panels — as well as the red accent stitching — work well, and align beautifully with the whole car’s whole chill demeanor.
That’s the thing about having a simple interior layout; if you mix simple with bland colors, there’s a risk that things will begin to look cheap. As I say in the clip above (in which I point out the beautifully-clever hidden interior door handles), the white interior doesn’t have that problem.
I will say that, overall, I found the Kia’s interior (shown above; notice how it’s totally different, even featuring a rotary shifter instead of a column-shifter) to have a significantly higher quality feel.
If you’d like a tour of some of the differences between the two vehicles’ cabins, check out the video above.
The more I review electric cars, the more I realize that, when compared with ICE car reviews, EV reviews are going to focus significantly more on interior features and exterior design than on the driving experience. The fact is, damn near every EV is “quick,” and with little sound to discuss, no unique torque curve to discuss, and no shifting to discuss, the “how does it drive?” section of car reviews is going to become a lot shorter than before.
And that’s totally fine. I love that there’s always plenty to write about styling and packaging creativity coming from EV designers and engineers.
I mention this because the Ioniq 5, like the EV6, felt “quick.” Both cars felt “heavy” (German-market Ioniq 5s weigh between 4,200 and 4,800 pounds; the Kia weighs even more). And they were both “quiet” (with the requisite exterior warning sound for pedestrians; you can hear that in the clip above). Some of this goes without saying.
With the obvious stuff out of the way, I will admit that, for good measure, I threw the Hyundai into some curves near the apple orchards surrounding Lake Constance in the outskirts of Friedrichshafen. I’m not a seasoned racing driver, so take it with a grain of salt, but on the rear-wheel-drive model, I detected some slight initial understeer followed by a tendency to actually oversteer. That’s fun, though I definitely noticed body roll in the corners that might have been a bit more pronounced than what I felt in the EV6.
The ride quality — at least on the well-maintained German roads — felt great, the seating position is high and confidence-inspiring. And the bright light entering through the sizable greenhouse — especially combined with my all-wheel-drive car’s light interior — made the cabin feel downright airy and pleasant.
I can go on and on about the car’s good-enough steering feel and its excellent-as-you’d-expect-from-an-EV pedal response, but I don’t want you to miss the whole point of this car. It’s not about dynamics or speed; it’s about style.
Seriously, just look at this thing. Look at those sharp creases in the body that give the vehicle an almost industrial stamped look; check out the upright proportions; behold the futuristic lighting. Combine all that with a simple, no-bullshit cabin, and you’ve got a car that exudes confidence.
It’s no surprise that the Hyundai ended up winning the German Car of the Year contest. I, myself, ranked the Kia EV6 a bit higher due to what I felt was a more premium cabin, but I can’t fault the other jurors for choosing the Hyundai. It’s got swagger.
Hyundai hasn’t announced pricing yet, but German models start at 41,900 Euros (about $47,000) and can climb into the 50s (around $60,000). A number of car websites have speculated a base price of around $40,000 for the U.S. If that number is right, then this retro-futuristic hatchback could be an awesome EV option.
Correction (Dec 10, 2021 11:55 AM E.T.): That speaker-looking thing on the dash is a magnetic board, not an actual speaker. Interesting.