New 2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 review

Nick Francis

08 Oct 2021

The Ioniq 5 is the new electric car from Hyundai which has bags of promise, on paper at least. But what’s it like in real life?


+ Very practical

+ Generous standard kit   

+ Futuristic cabin


- Love it or loathe it looks

- Lack of physical buttons in cabin

- 350kW chargers difficult to find in UK

Verdict: Hyundai has made something special with the Ioniq 5. Its looks might be a little too ‘Buck Rogers’ for some, but no one who drives one will be able to deny its impressive interior and calming driving experience. Its charging tech is let down by the lack of infrastructure in the UK, but you can hardly blame Hyundai for that.

2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 review: the five minute read

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 must be one of the most talked about cars of 2021. Perhaps that’s because it looks like it’s stepped straight out of the year 3000, but it’s also because for many it promises to be the EV they would make the switch for.

Some useful context: the Ioniq 5 might look like a hatchback but as soon as you get within 100ft of it you realise it’s actually rather large. In fact, it’s significantly bigger than the Hyundai Kona. That said, unlike most crossovers it sits low to the ground. So right out of the gate the Ioniq 5 is a unique proposition. 

Even so, anyone looking to buy one will likely also be considering SUV-shaped EVs like the Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E and Skoda Enyaq

We’ll leave you to make your own mind up on the design, some will love it while others will hate it. Whichever way you cut it it’s a head-turner, with a clamshell bonnet, pixel-effect light bar joining the front LEDs and those 20-inch alloy wheels which could cause a migraine if you stare at them for too long. 

Stepping inside the Ioniq 5 feels like being transported forward decades to an era where we all live on mars because planet earth is being burned to the ground by violent water wars. 

Open space is the theme, with everything bathed in calming, neutral greys, blues and whites. Panels of squidgy plastics introduce the notion of premium build quality but look closely and some of the materials used feel a little cheap. 

Two 12.3-inch screens side by side offer a cinema-style view of the driver’s display and infotainment system. The graphics are impressive and the response time faultless, but there’s an overreliance on the touchscreens for common functions. Even the climate control, which thankfully lives outside the infotainment system, is a bank of touch-sensitive buttons. 

Hyundai has maximised interior space with almost alchemic ability. The rear seats slide forward and backwards, as does the centre console holding the cupholders between the front seats. And because it’s a flat-bottomed EV with no transmission tunnel, legroom is maximised further. 

Working out the various options of batteries and drive types requires some concentration. The entry point is the £36,995 rear wheel drive model paired with a 58kWh battery good for a claimed range of 240-miles. Adding the 73kWh battery increases the range to 298-miles while power increases from 168bhp to 215bhp. This battery can also be paired with a dual motor AWD system which increases power to 302bhp but nibbles the range to 287-miles. 

All models come with the capability of 350kW charging, which means up to 80% of range can be topped up in 18-minutes. But that’s only if you can find a 350kW charge point in the UK – much easier said than done. 

The calm and serenity of the Ionic 5’s cabin are matched by the way it drives, you feel cocooned from the noise and vibrations of the road. The steering is light in the way you want it to be around town, but the Ioniq 5 still changes direction at high speeds with calm and poise. Even the 302bhp model doesn’t feel frantic in the way a similarly powered combustion engine car can, acceleration is smooth and linear in typical EV fashion. 

There’s very little to fault the Ioniq 5 on. Teslas are faster but more expensive, and the Ford Mach-E can be specced with more range, but as an all-round package the Ionic 5 is one of the most tempting prospects in the segment at the moment. 

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Extended read…

2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 interior and infotainment

There’s a true sense of open space inside the Ioniq 5, achieved through maximising the possibilities of an EV’s flat-bottomed design which removes the transmission tunnel and other furniture found in petrol and diesel cars. The windows are big and let light flood in, and the colours used are deliberately bright and calming in tone.

While the dashboard looks like a display cabinet in the Apple Store some of the materials used feel a little light and flimsy, although they are lifted by strategically placed blobs of squidgy plastics. 

In terms of build quality the Ioniq 5 just about matches the ID.4 and Mach-E but it certainly looks more interesting than both of those cars. 

Immediately upon entering the car your eyes are drawn to the cinematic 12.3-inch dual screens, one hosting the digital driver’s display, the other the infotainment system. They look fantastic and the response time is excellent. The only drawback is the fact that most controls for the car live within the system, which can get distracting on the move. 

Even the climate controls are found on a touch-sensitive panel, which we found hard to read when sunlight shone directly on it. 

All trim levels come with wireless smartphone mirroring, wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry and smart cruise control with lane changing assist functionality. It really is a generous kit list. 

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2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 practicality and boot space

The fact that the Ioniq 5’s front seats fold all the way back and have leg supports that rise at at the front probably tells you something about how long it can take an EV to charge on an 11kW public charger, but having your own built-in La-Z-boy chairs is a welcome touch all the same. You’ll end up looking forward to catching forty winks at the motorway services.

The car’s doors open wide and with no bulky transmission tunnel to get in your way, sliding onto and across the rear bench is a breeze. Those back seats also slide forward and back, so you won’t struggle for legroom. Even if the seats were static there would be enough space for even the tallest of passengers thanks to the Ioniq 5’s three-metre wheelbase, which is as big as a large saloon. It’s boxy shape means headroom is plentiful too. 

Oh, and you can spec the Ioniq 5 with a remote parking function which will creep the car out of a tight parking spot, if you have strong enough nerves to watch. 

The front of the cabin is open and spacious, and even the cupholders and armrests slide in each direction. Deep door bins and a wide and deep glove box are the icing on the cake. 

The Ioniq 5’s 540-litre boot is considerably bigger than that of the Mach-E, but not quite as large as the ID.4’s and well short of the Skoda Enyaq’s. There’s also an extra storage bin under the bonnet, although don’t expect to get much more than a single bag of shopping in there if you opt for the AWD model. In the two-wheel drive version it doubles in size and becomes a genuinely useful bit of extra room. 

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2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 battery, motors and range 

There should be an Ioniq 5 to suit most EV owners’ needs thanks to an extensive range of battery and power options offered by Hyundai. At the entry point to the line-up sits the £36,995 Ioniq 5 SE Connect which is powered by a 58kWh battery good for a claimed range of up to 240-miles, with all 168bhp sent to the rear axle. That will do 0-62mph in 8.5-seconds.

Above that sits the 73kWh battery model, also sending power to the back wheels but this time the wick is turned to 215bhp and range to 298-miles. The sprint is over a second quicker at 7.4-seconds.

Top of the tree is an AWD version paired with the 73kWh battery with a power output of 302bhp, which nibbles the range to 287-miles. This model arrives at 62mph from a standstill in a very respectable 5.2-seconds. 

It’s worth noting that the range-topping Mach-E claims to be capable of 380-miles while the Skoda Enyaq fitted with a 77kWh battery will do 327-miles, so the Ioniq 5 isn’t particularly moving the game on here.

What neither of those cars offer is the 800v technology which allows for 350kW charging. Now, finding a 350kW charger in the UK is about as easy as winning the lottery, but if you are lucky enough to locate one you’ll be able to top your Ionic 5 up to 80% of range in just 18-minutes. Even a five-minute stop will recoup 62-miles. 

2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 driving 

Considering our test car was riding on 20-inch wheels we were impressed with the Ioniq 5’s ride quality. Inevitably it felt a bit crashy over bigger lumps and bumps but that would be sorted by opting for smaller wheels - it feels confident and composed for the most part. 

The steering is quick which gives it a fleetness of foot, especially at higher speeds, and around town it’s light and manoeuvrable.

The 0-62mph figure of the 302bhp model is enough to tell you that it feels very rapid, but there’s still a calmness about it. Hyundai knows customers aren’t buying an EV for the theatre of the performance, rather they want linear predictability. That’s not to say it isn’t a lot of fun beating more ‘performance’ focussed cars off the line at traffic lights. 

Using Hyundai’s ‘i-Pedal’ you can instantly turn the Ioniq 5 into a one-pedal car which is very useful around town. The regenerative braking it adjusted via paddles on the steering wheel, and four drive modes temper the amount of power on tap: Eco, Comfort, Sport and – if you can believe it – Snow. 

The most impressive thing is the overall sense of peace and serenity at all times. Wind noise is muted effectively and there is minimal whining from the electric motor(s): those attributes couples poised ride add up to a very calming car to drive. 

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Nick Francis

08 Oct 2021