I went to the IONIQ 5 test drive hosted by Hyundai Motor Company. During the test drive was when the traffic was the most severe. All the cars were stuck in every road and highway in the city as if it was a huge parking lot. But I've never felt tired at all. This was the moment the word “home” suddenly hit me.
The IONIQ 5 feels so familiar as its design had an homage to Hyundai's very first model, Pony. Although a lot of clear straight lines are used and the whole body looks all connected, it still feels very familiar and comfortable rather than strong and conspicuous.
The interior feels the same. Everything is rounded and smooth, creating a homey atmosphere; sharp edges and pointy corners are hard to find. It feels so comfortable that it is not so hard to believe that eco-friendly materials such as natural bio-elements and recycled materials are widely used in the cabin.
When I was about to hit the road, my cell phone rang from the inner pocket of my coat that I put in the back seat. It would have been very difficult to reach if I was in an ordinary vehicle, and obviously, I would've had to open the door and get out of the car to answer the phone - but not this time. After pressing the Memory Seat function button of the infotainment system, the rear seats were pulled forward and the driver's backrest was laid down and moved backward. Thanks to this, I was able to hit the road smoothly after answering the phone without getting off the car. All seats can be returned to their original state by touching the screen in the center console, and also, like any ordinary car, only the driver's seat can be returned with the Memory Seat button on the driver's door.
The Memory Seat function for all seats has been my personal interest since IONIQ 5 was first released. There will be many customers who choose the IONIQ 5 in terms of a new electric car, but maybe more customers will move on to a new mobility era after experiencing a new user experience feature - a whole new experience provided by the spacious, flat-floor cabin.
The ‘Universal Island’, which moves 14cm back and forth, is impressive enough, but if you have experienced panicking because you could not reach your child crying in the rear car seat or a bag in the rear seat, you will be impressed by the Memory Seat function in all seats. It is clear that the “E-GMP (Electric-Global Modular Platform),” exclusively for electric vehicles with a flat floor that makes it possible to provide new and unprecedented experiences, will be more than just a unique feature of electric vehicles.
In fact, what I was concerned about before the IONIQ 5 test drive was the ride quality. Electric cars are heavy because of their large batteries, and to support the weight, they usually need strong springs on the suspension. And this applied to most electric vehicles. Even expensive luxury electric cars with electronically controlled air suspension could not resolve the weight issue. For this reason, in most cases, EV makers have underlined their cars' high performance or dynamic personality, rationalizing stiff ride.
I thought the IONIQ 5 wouldn't be much different. When the car exited the parking lot and entered the road and encountered a speed bump, I expected a blunt shock, like any electric car. But I was wrong; the IONIQ 5 passed very smoothly. It didn't feel right when the car hit a huge speed bump. Just as electric cars with rigid suspension couldn't properly absorb the shock when passing through the speed bumps, it was only natural to presume that the IONIQ 5 would also deliver a big shock.
I was wrong about everything. The IONIQ 5 gently pressed the speed bump and smoothened the impact. That doesn't mean the IONIQ 5's suspension is soft. The IONIQ 5 long-range rear-wheel-drive prestige trim provided as a test drive weighed 1,950 kg, which is more than 300 kg heavier than the similar-sized Tucson. Even when descending the speed bump, it wasn't a motion that continued to fall or slump while “thumping”, but a short recoil to finish the whole process in style. In particular, the sense of the rear wheel that supports the heavier rear part is considered to be excellent, so the ride comfort in the rear seat is also expected to be excellent.
I thought about the smooth ride of the IONIQ 5. There is no magic in the world to eliminate weight, but there is certainly automotive engineering that absorbs and distributes shocks well. Hyundai Motor Company, which should care about price competitiveness and efficiency for mass production, has a great combination of the driving texture and ride comfort of the IONIQ 5, despite many practical limitations. It has achieved the top priority set so that those who are new to an electric vehicle heavier than an internal combustion engine of the same class can get a good impression of the comfortable ride and driving stability. Even customers who are new to electric vehicles will have no problem with them at all.
On the highway and the rough road, I checked the interior noise of the IONIQ 5. Electric cars without engines are inherently quiet, but ironically, they allow other kinds of noise. Instead of not having the engine, which is usually the noisiest part, you can hear a sound that you haven't heard before, making it even noisier somehow. Road noise from tires, wind noise, small noises sometimes heard from interior materials, and even the very small ‘hiss-hiss-’ sounds from the air conditioner vents are sometimes annoying.
On the other hand, the interior of the IONIQ 5 was very quiet. The most impressive thing is that the tire noise is very low. The 255/45R 20-inch tires, which are wider than those of the large SUV Palisade, are a huge source of the noise. But indoors, there was hardly any noise from the road surface or the vortex generated inside the wheelhouse. Even when I passed the unpaved road near the top of the test drive course, I didn't notice any noise or vibration on the floor. It is free from the inherent noise of the underside of electric vehicles.
Unless you drive 30km/h faster than the speed limit of the expressway, the wind noise won't be a problem. The double laminated glass applied to the front and back is doing a great job. This becomes clear when you open the window and realize how loud the noise is. What's really surprising is the sound insulation effect of the Vision Roof, which applies fixed glass to the entire roof and adds an electric roll blind function. I drove without a cover so that I could see the clear sky throughout the test drive, but there was no feeling of a loud noise above my head even in the tunnel. With a little exaggeration, the sound insulation effect of the vision loop was excellent enough to reach a level that is difficult to understand in common sense. The IONIQ 5 is a really, very quiet electric car.
The reason for focusing on the interior space, ride comfort, and interior noise in the introduction part of the test drive is clear. The reason is that it is much more important for the IONIQ 5 to impress people that this is something more than just a new electric car, and it can be a great means of transportation and new mobility that has not been existed before. In this regard, personally, I would give IONIQ 5 'Exceed Expectation'.
Now let's check the EV-exclusive parts. Perhaps the most important thing in the IONIQ 5 is the super-fast charging it applied for the first time. You may check this out at Hyundai EV station Gangdong, which was included in the test drive course. Hyundai EV Station Gangdong, along with the high-speed charging station E-pit, recently introduced by Hyundai Motor Company at the highway rest area, will be the core of the electric vehicle high-speed charging network. Here, you can experience a high charger that is convenient enough, even for the elderly and pregnant women. The high charger is designed to move down from the top, without needing to use too much energy pulling the charging cable.
Since it is a test drive, I decided to charge just 70% of the battery and took a break at the coffee shop inside. It was an opportunity to experience the relaxation comfort seat in the driver's seat of the IONIQ 5, but I was curious to see what I could enjoy while charging the EV. In the well-decorated coffee shop, besides people charging their electric vehicles, there were many people who came to have a cup of coffee and meet friends. At the Hyundai EV Station Gangdong, which naturally blends into our daily lives, I felt that electric vehicles could become a great companion for our daily lives.
It took 5 minutes or so to get the coffee I ordered; the battery was 70% full. And the amount of energy charged for 5 minutes through a 350kW class super-fast charger was 13kWh. It charged 20% of the 72.6kWh battery capacity of the IONIQ 5 long-range model in just 5 minutes. Based on the official compound fuel efficiency of 4.9km/kWh of the test drive vehicle, it took only 5 minutes for 64km-long travel. Calculating this in terms of hours, it can charge 156kW per hour. In fact, there is no electric car that can maintain the charging capacity at 350kW. There are a lot of electric vehicles that are 'fake high-performance', which charging speed drops sharply after a brief moment of rapid charging, but the IONIQ 5 shows a considerable level of charging speed, with an average of 150kW or more in the range of 50-70% of the remaining battery capacity.
In fact, I couldn't confirm whether the IONIQ 5 actually shows a charging speed of 350kW, and if so, in which section of the state of charge (SOC) the battery shows that speed. According to Hyundai Motor Company's explanation, it shows a speed of around 220kW in the 10-50% range of the battery. Considering that German premium brands are compromising on the actual charging speed that keeps up to 150kW consistently, or considering Tesla's average charging speed, the charging speed and ‘durable charging power’ of the IONIQ 5 are great. And considering Hyundai's announcement that you can charge from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes with a 350kW super-fast charger, it means an average of 169kW per hour, making the story plausible.
How about the fuel economy of the IONIQ 5? When the midday temperature was 27℃ like early summer, the result of driving the city and roads on the outskirts with the air conditioner on the whole time was 6.9km/kWh. I was not driving for fuel economy, still, the result was higher than the official fuel efficiency. In addition, it is said that the average fuel consumption of the test drive participants confirmed after the test drive was 6.4km/kWh, and the maximum fuel consumption was 8.6km/kWh. Based on this outcome, it seems that the possible daily drive could easily exceed 500km. This is particularly achievable considering that there were winding roads and rapid acceleration in the second half of the test drive. I don't think there will be much to worry about electricity costs in actual driving.
At the turning point, I looked at the IONIQ 5's cargo space. The trunk capacity of the IONIQ 5 is 531 liters, and it increases to 1,591 liters when the rear seats are folded. There is a c-shaped large space under the floor of the trunk for storage, and inside the test drive vehicle was a charging cable with an external V2L adapter. It even took the practicality of securing as much space as possible throughout the car. In the case of a frunk - a front trunk - provided in the space where the engine used to be, there are differences between the rear-wheel drive model and the four-wheel drive model. The frunk of a four-wheel drive model has a stair-like capacity of 24 liters, and the rear-wheel drive model has a square-shaped 57-liter frunk. It's spacious enough to store more than a portable charging cable.
Take out the external V2L adapter, plug it into the charging port, and press the power button; the car would start immediately. The fact that the car works even without pressing the start button means practicality and efficiency. I thought it would be very useful when I enjoy leisure activities outdoors for a long time. And I could not pull the power plug no matter how hard I tried. The anti-theft feature of the charger was another catch of the V2L adapter. The adapter comes off only after unlocking the IONIQ 5 with the remote key.
Of course, there was also a downside of IONIQ 5. For driving enthusiasts who love dynamic driving, the IONIQ 5's driving texture could be too soft. For an electric vehicle with an empty vehicle weight of 1.9 tons, the maximum output of 160 kW (217 hp) and a maximum torque of 350 Nm are not very strong, and the steering performance is somewhat poor due to the soft setting suspension for a comfortable ride. However, the vehicle is equipped with both traction and stability control. The steering wheel, which feels quite light, will also work as an advantage in everyday life.
Earlier, I said that IONIQ 5 feels homey. Sometimes I think of going out to fancier places, but personally, I often say ‘home is the best place!’ This is how much I value comfortable and familiar places. New and exhilarating things could easily attract people amongst the new concepts of mobility. But people do not like things going too far. In this perspective, IONIQ 5 could be a catch. Rather than emphasizing cutting-edge technology, IONIQ 5 delivers new features that ordinary customers can easily experience in a comfortable atmosphere. This is why IONIQ 5 can become a pioneer of the new era of electric vehicles.
By Na Yoon-Seok
He has worked as Audi Brand Manager, Product Marketing Team Leader of Volkswagen Korea, Volkswagen Headquarters Manager, and General Director of Ferrari. Currently, he is working as a freelance auto columnist and consultant, and he is delivering extensive knowledge about automobiles.
Photography By Choi Dae-Il
◆ This column was written in accordance with the author's subjective opinion and may differ from the HMG Journal's point of view.
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