More than 400 Hyundai N owners attended the 2023 N Festival at Sydney Motorsport Park last weekend, but there was one car that stood out to us – the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N.
This was our first chance to get up close and personal with this new electric hot hatch/SUV, which will hit the road in Australia early in 2024. Unfortunately we weren't allowed behind the wheel of this pre-production model, but luckily Hyundai let TCR Australia ace Bailey Sweeny take us for a spin.
These demonstration runs at SMP came just a few months after the first examples of this electric performance hero arrived down under and were lapped by ‘Drift King' Keiichi Tsuchiya at the World Time Attack event at SMP. But those rides were only for a limited selection of competition winners and Hyundai customers. This time around, Torquecafe was able to jump in the passenger's seat and see what this new take on a hot hatch can really do.
It was an eye-opening experience for Sweeny too, with the all-electric, technology-laden Ioniq 5 N somehow even more complicated than his i30 N TCR racer. After a quick briefing from Hyundai's product experts, Sweeny got the performance mode dialed up and we left the pits.
Two things struck us both immediately – the smooth power delivery and the noise.
Yes, that's right, this electric car makes noise. Of course it's artificial but the N Active Sound feature is a welcome addition. The setting in our car was designed to imitate the turbocharged petrol engine in the i30 N hot hatch, but there are other sounds to choose from, and it rises and falls with the speed you're going.
It's a gimmick, and if you hate it you can simply turn it off, but it actually helps as Sweeny finds his way around the track in this brave new electric world. The change in noise is a crucial part of the ‘feel' to driving a car quickly, so it's good Hyundai has opted to incorporate that into the Ioniq 5 N.
The other thing that hit me from the passenger seat was just how quick this car is. With 447kW of power and 770Nm of torque (in standard form) the Ioniq 5 N punches out of corners with much more ferocity than even the rapid i30 N hatch and sedan.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the Ioniq 5 N. Will it feel heavy? Does it justify its six-figure price? Can an EV really excite like a petrol-powered hot hatch?
We won't have to wait too long to get those answers but after just a brief experience (and from the wrong seat) I'm excited to find out just what this car has in store for the future of performance motoring…