Inspired by Hyundai’s first ever production car, the Pony. The IONIQ 5 may share some of its styling cues but that’s where the similarities stop. In a few decades, the Korean manufacturer has galloped its way to the top and the IONIQ 5 is the car to take this even further! That’s why I call it the ‘Unicorn’, it’s sort of like a horse/pony but better in every way!

Firstly, the IONIQ 5 turns heads like nothing I’ve ever seen before! I have driven some pretty exotic stuff but never quite seen the same reaction as this EV. Everywhere I went, people stopped to stare! Including one event at a petrol station where some bamboozled onlooker came up to read the registration card. This was really interesting to note because the IONIQ 5 seemed to have a way with sparking people’s curiosity.

Front view of the Hyundai IONIQ 5
The LED strip under the headlights is what I call the ‘moustache’

From any angle, the IONIQ 5 looks unlike anything else on the road. It’s sharp lines have a way of somehow combining the historic significance of the Pony while incorporating a future-tastic look. Just look at that front end with its cube shaped parametric LEDs, a design element which becomes even more pronounced when the ‘moustache’ is illuminated. Hyundai probably have a technical term for that LED strip but I think my term fits the description too! While that front end is very eye catching, it is also functional with the air vents at the bottom opening when needed to cool the system. That echoes the philosophy of this car, stylish but functional.

Parametric LEDs of the Hyundai IONIQ 5
Parametric LEDs give the car a futuristic but retro inspired look!

The intelligence doesn’t stop there with this top-spec model featuring a solar panel roof! That to me is a stroke of brilliance as we get some really strong sun in New Zealand, energy which is wasted on wearing away the leather interiors of our cars. A much better use of that energy is to charge both the 12V battery and keep the main battery topped up. A strong part of the IONIQ 5’s appeal is in the way it incorporates natural materials or makes use of natural energy in the case of the solar panel roof. A point I will pick up on later!

Rear three quarters of the Hyundai IONIQ 5
Distinctive from all angles

While the scientific brains were hard at work on the roof, it’s clear that the designers had other things on their mind. I mean the rear end of course! Just look at those unmistakable LEDs and that sharply raked rear windscreen. The public seemed to enjoy the futuristic but retro theme of those rear taillights with many comparing it to robotic characters from 80s TV shows. While you and I might look at those lights and instantly recognize the car, the IONIQ 5 is still unknown to a large portion of people. Just as well Hyundai spelt out the name on the back!

It was thanks to the unique rear end of the car that I shared a light hearted moment with another IONIQ 5 driver on the motorway. We waved at each other and exchanged thumbs ups, acknowledging the fine cars that we were driving. Maybe in the future, more drivers will embrace this sort of philosophy on the roads!

Interior of the Hyundai IONIQ 5
Quite unlike the norm both inside and out

Speaking of the future, how about that interior? The white leather is a standout here as it really gives the car a different feel. The sensation of being in some sort of spaceship is further helped by the coloured LED lighting and the twin screens. You can set the lighting and music perfectly then to take a nap while your car is charging. A feat that is easily achieved thanks to the fully reclining front seats. The rear seats also recline slightly for those passengers who also want to catch some zzzs!

Before you go ahead and nap, you do need to get familiar with the rest of the interior because it is quite different to what drivers will normally be used to. The two-spoke steering wheel, the sliding centre console and steering mounted gearstick all take a bit of time to get familiar with. What is familiar is the infotainment screen which is Hyundai’s unit that is shared across all of the brand’s more premium models but there are a few key differences with IONIQ 5. The ‘EV’ icon takes you into a menu that shows you the nearest charging point, your driving patterns and more. Now, remember earlier when I talked about this car’s ingenuity when it comes to using natural materials? The interior is where that ethos really becomes a winner. The leather is dyed with vegetable oils, the door trims are weaved from recycled plastics and the headliner is made from sugarcane fibres. How about that for eco-friendliness!

View of the Hyundai IONIQ 5 from the rear three quarters
Pony inspired shape makes this a must for Hyundai enthusiasts

As the flag bearer for Hyundai’s EV movement, the IONIQ 5 didn’t just have to be sharply designed or use natural materials, it also has to drive well. Spoiler alert, it does! The 72.6 kWh AWD model that I drove puts out 225kW and it certainly knows how to use it! Acceleration is mighty quick at 5.5 seconds for the 0-100 sprint and you can do plenty of those launches thanks to the 440km of range available. While all that is excellent, a key component of driving an EV is in the braking and the IONIQ 5 does really well here once again. With the option of three regenerative braking modes or an AUTO mode, there is plenty of one pedal driving to be done. My suggestion is the automatic option because the car will vary its brake pressure according to the following distance of the car in front. Another small but impressive feature that I found was when the navigation detects that you are entering a tunnel, it will automatically switch to recirculate the air in the cabin. It may seem irrelevant but it seriously impressed a car nerd like myself!

Front view of the Hyundai IONIQ 5 with LEDs in the background
A stark contrast to the old stone buildings of the city

The Verdict

So then, the IONIQ 5 is very intelligent and looks eye catching at the same time. Those are the upsides but what about downsides? Well, I couldn’t really find any. Personally, the white leather interior will probably prove to be hard to clean over time but that’s not a criticism of the car. Another unique characteristic that I noticed was the IONIQ’s appeal with both hardcore car enthusiasts and non-car enthusiasts asking me about it! Now that is quite an achievement.

Clearly, Hyundai have a real winner on their hands with this IONIQ 5 and that is why it is my 2021 ‘Car of the Year’. Need I say more?

2021 Hyundai IONIQ 5 Elite 4WD: 5/5

Thanks for reading! For more Hyundai news and reviews, click here.

Words by Matthew D’Souza, pictures courtesy of dorifutography. Car Courtesy of Hyundai Motors NZ.

Share your love
Facebook
Twitter

Support our advertisers

Newsletter

Recent News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.