When considering the most noteworthy high-performance car brands today, many will think of Hyundai’s N brand. Though less than a decade since its inception, the N brand has rapidly advanced with a dynamic approach. It has actively showcased the joy of driving through a diverse range of models, including hatchbacks, SUVs, and sedans, quickly building a global fanbase enthralled by the N brand’s ethos.
The N brand’s success isn’t just due to its powerful and fast cars; it’s the pursuit of “cars that are fun to drive” that’s the driving force. This is realized through development philosophies based on experiences and know-how from world-class motorsports like WRC, TCR, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours Race. Inspirations from motorsports and high-performance technologies have turned numerous auto enthusiasts into devout fans of Hyundai and the N brand.
Hyundai and the N brand aren’t resting on their laurels but are preparing for the future with a long-term perspective. Last year, Hyundai revealed two rolling lab concept cars, the RN22e and N Vision 74, demonstrating a concrete blueprint for future high-performance vehicles. Fans who pursue driving pleasure have enthusiastically received N brand’s clear direction for fun and exhilarating high-performance vehicles, even in the era of eco-friendly cars.
Unveiled in July this year, the IONIQ 5 N opens the door to N brand’s high-performance electrification strategy. Based on Hyundai Motor Group’s dedicated electric vehicle platform E-GMP, the IONIQ 5 N showcases cutting-edge electric vehicle technology. It’s equipped with various N-specific features designed for both everyday driving and exhilarating track experiences, symbolizing the joy of driving that will continue into the future of high-performance electric vehicles. In essence, the IONIQ 5 N spans the current and future realms of high-performance electric vehicles.
The IONIQ 5 N encompasses all three core philosophies of the N brand: track driving capabilities, exhilarating cornering performance, and everyday sports car experience. By incorporating electrification technology into new features, it redefines the concept of high-performance electric vehicles and marks a milestone in N brand’s journey from the present to the future.
The variety of new technologies in the IONIQ 5 N is extensive. Each innovation perfectly aligns with the N brand’s value of “a high-performance car that effortlessly transitions between everyday life and the track.” In fact, these innovations not only compensate for the traditionally acknowledged limitations of electric vehicles in track performance but also expand the possibilities of electric vehicles to new realms.
Key features include the N Battery Pre-conditioning and N Race technologies, which precisely control the battery and motor for maximum performance in harsh track conditions or to harness instantaneous power. Technologies like N Brake Regen and N Pedal, which maximize regenerative braking performance to enhance battery performance, cornering abilities, and the durability of the braking system, also push the boundaries of electric vehicle performance. Other track-specific technologies, such as the N Drift Optimizer, have been extensively integrated.
However, these technologies are primarily developed for safe track driving and might not be fully experienced on regular roads. But there’s no reason to be disappointed, as there are plenty of ways to enjoy the charm of the IONIQ 5 N in everyday life. One such way is to leisurely or spiritedly drive on scenic roads, like today’s. Recalling the path Hyundai and the N brand took to reach the milestone of the IONIQ 5 N, and exploring the true value of high-performance electric vehicles, can be an enlightening experience.
Like all N models, the IONIQ 5 N shows its true charm and enjoyable performance not on straight highways but on winding roads alongside mountains and rivers. It’s hard to believe until experienced firsthand. An electric car weighing 2.5 tons with a wheelbase of 3 meters being fun to drive around corners might seem unimaginable. But when this almost magical reality comes to life, shaking up preconceived notions and intellectual limits, the mind overflows with pleasure and excitement. It’s the moment everyday life becomes thrilling.
In Normal mode, the IONIQ 5 N provides a ride as smooth and comfortable as a regular IONIQ 5, both in the city and on highways. Entering a serene natural setting on a provincial road and switching to N mode, the car reveals its contrasting characteristics. The N-specific electronic controlled suspension tightens the chassis, the steering sharpens its senses, and the front and rear electric motors ready themselves to unleash their full output. The real transformation begins with the activation of the newly applied N-specific features.
To use these features, I pressed the star-shaped favorite button set in advance, bringing up the N-specific screen on the infotainment monitor. On country roads and winding paths, the N Pedal, N Torque Distribution allowing drivers to adjust the front and rear drive force ratio, the virtual gear shift N e-Shift creating the sensation of gear changes by controlling motor torque when flicking the paddle shift, and N Active Sound Plus amplifying the sound as the revolutions rise, enhancing the driver’s connection with the car, were some of the features worth experiencing.
Each function worked individually or in tandem to provide a vibrant and thrilling experience around corners and a high-performance feel on straight stretches. For instance, I could feel the rear-wheel-drive movement by increasing the rear-wheel drive force to 90% using the N Torque Distribution feature. The N Pedal, adjustable in three stages, was utilized to its fullest to use regenerative braking deceleration right before entering corners. Level 3 N Pedal showed incredible deceleration capability, safely navigating corners at high three-digit speeds. Especially, as soon as I lifted my foot off the accelerator, the system shifted the center of gravity forward, allowing for stable driving.
The N Active Sound Plus and N e-Shift were responsible for creating the feeling most similar to an internal combustion N model, i.e., enjoying the essence of a high-performance gasoline engine in an electric car. While other N-specific features directly impact driving performance, these two were developed to fulfill high-performance emotions. As widely known, physical sensations can significantly influence emotions, and these features filled the emotional void with three different sounds and a strong push feeling from the back.
N e-Shift and N Active Sound Plus were designed to operate simultaneously, aiming for more intense and dramatic stimulation. Personally, I set the N2 button under the right side of the steering wheel to activate and deactivate N e-Shift and N Active Sound Plus, enjoying both functions whenever possible. Each time I downshifted the virtual gear, the excitement in my ears grew as the virtual engine RPM soared. When the fuel cut-off effect (a phenomenon in internal combustion engines where fuel supply stops when the engine RPM reaches its limit) was implemented and the sound and push feel of shifting at the limit were quite stimulating.
Especially in N driving mode, the pop and bang sound characteristic of N models was also software-generated, making me unconsciously flick the paddle shift more often. Personally, I enjoyed the experience of being fully immersed in high-performance sound inside the car with the volume turned up, more than the sound heard through the external speakers. I never dreamed of enjoying such sentiments in an electric car. And, of course, there was no worry about causing noise pollution to others.
After enjoying the IONIQ 5 N’s exhilarating speed, powerful sound, and ‘racy’ sensations that make you forget the car’s size and weight, and its vivid cornering performance, it was time to recharge for the journey back.
I did not worry too much, though. Thanks to the IONIQ 5 N’s 400V/800V multi-rapid charging system, highway rest area charging stations were sufficient. With the capability to charge from 10% to 80% in about 18 minutes using 350kW ultra-rapid charging, the IONIQ 5 N truly epitomizes a sustainable high-performance electric vehicle.
Amidst the daily emergence of a variety of electric vehicles, there are only a few like the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N that can make everyday life thrilling. The battery and motor technology that allows transitioning between track and everyday life, the driving performance that’s more fun and exciting when cornering than on straight roads, and the electric car filled with high-performance emotions pleasing to the eyes and ears make the IONIQ 5 N uniquely exceptional.
Born on the perfect harmony of high performance and electrification technology, the IONIQ 5 N is an innovative entity leading the standards of electric cars into the future. It's a significant entity driving the N brand's journey towards high-performance electrification.
By Se-hwan Lee
Photography by Jin-ho Choi
Videos by Hee-don Jung, Yong-sik Woo
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com
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