2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 review, first drive - is an EV the best premium SUV in India?

Tuhin Guha Updated: April 06, 2023, 02:36 PM IST

The Ioniq 5 is probably the most important car Hyundai makes globally. This SUV, if you can call it that, is the first of the Ioniq-branded Hyundai ground-up EVs, so the stakes are high. It's finally here in India, as Hyundai's new flagship. Aside from being a serious EV contender with its 631 km of range and local assembly, it's filled with the kind of fresh, out-of-the-box thinking that will help endear electrics to buyers.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 styling, dimensions, boot space

Now the first thing you need to know about the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is that it's quite a bit larger than it seems in pictures. This crossover-hatchback mishmash bodystyle hides the fact that it is longer and wider than the Tucson, if marginally shorter.

What will catch your eye immediately though is the neo-retro styling. It takes inspiration from the Hyundai Pony from 1975, the first Korean-developed car. You see this in the double-barrel light design enhanced here in a deep set cluster within a seamless black band. But it's the detailing that lifts it. The pixelated LED DRLs and the hidden striations for the full-width lighting are the most prominent.

The look is also especially clean. There are no visible radar sensors and the flaps in the bumper only open on the move for cooling the battery and ventilation, even the bonnet is a clamshell so there are few apparent panels.

From the side, you notice those exaggerated body lines that are now a Hyundai staple. They seem a bit more cohesive here than in the bulkier Tucson. The glass house is refreshingly simple but far more striking are the 20-inch wheels. These, some of the largest we've seen on a Hyundai, are finished to quite a high grade in this bladed and latticed design. The styling also does well to hide the long 3,000mm wheelbase, 100mm longer than even the full-size Palisade, an advantage of the EV-specific architecture.

This distinctly modern theme has more retro nods when you see the rear. The angular C-pillar is another direct link to the Pony, while the 8-bit-inspired panel which houses the neatly hidden taillamps is again a fun touch. So overall, despite ground clearance growing to a laden 163mm for India, the Ioniq 5 is striking with its square, squat proportions.

The boot is a large 537 litres with a flat if slightly high lip but a square useful space. As with many EVs, you don't get a spare wheel with the motor being packed underneath. Although, there is a sizeable 57-litre frunk that'll hold charging cables and other small items.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 battery, range, charging

Even though the Ioniq 5 is very closely related to the Kia EV6, being built on the same E-GMP skateboard architecture, Hyundai has been able to position this car within a gap lower in the EV price segments using the simpler rear-motor setup and a smaller 72.6 kWh battery pack.

This gives it an ARAI range of 631 km although a more attainable number would be closer to the 470 to 480 km WLTP figure. In our time with it, through some very heavy driving, we saw an efficiency range between 17 to 21 kWh/100 km. So a real-world range of over 400 km can be expected.

The 800V electrical architecture allows the Hyundai to charge at up to 350 kW, which will get the battery up to 80 per cent from 10 per cent in 18 minutes. On a more attainable 50 kW fast charger, this time is 57 minutes. Home charging via the bundled 11 kW AC charger will take 6 hours and 55 minutes.

There is also a Vehicle-to-Load function. This essentially turns the Ioniq 5 into a power source and can provide 3.6 kW of power from the car for 18 hours if battery levels are over 80 per cent. The output is strong enough to power a range of appliances like laptops, microwaves, and LED TVs both inside and outside the car.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 interior, space, practicality, features

The attention to detail that's gone into the outside of the Ioniq 5 transforms into an off-beat yet thoughtful interior. Hyundai has been able to do this with, again, the flexibility that a bespoke EV architecture provides.

The dash design is fairly simple but holds attention with its asymmetric look, earthy colours and textures, and quality. The top surfaces and door panels are all finished in soft materials with the harder plastic in the cabin's further reaches still staying consistently fitted.

This brings the Ioniq 5 closer than ever to its German competition especially when you find that the well-shaped steering wheel with its neat buttons, the substantial new stalks with their blunt chrome ends and the column-mounted shifter with its unique rotational operation all function with a damped, hefty feeling. If anything, the switches on the dash and for the window controls could have felt less plasticity but you find these to be useful in the current age of touch panels. Hyundai hasn't fully abstained from this temptation, the AC controls are still in just such a panel. Generally, there is no real learning curve when you start driving the Hyundai, an achievement considering the quite complex tech on board.

Now the heavy use of white materials, many of which use recycled waste, is calming but it will take some cleaning. The white-themed instrumentation, of a higher resolution than you've seen in other Hyundais, merges quite nicely with this though. The EV-specific graphics are detailed giving you a great idea of just how far you can go with the battery levels. The range readout usefully also changes with the climate use and regen level. Although the small regen level readout in the instrumentation could have been larger.

This space is made quite a bit more endearing with the smart, playful touches and its general openness. Like the H morse-code signage on the horn pad, the flat walkthrough floor and the front seats lie completely flat. These are especially spruced up with calf supports, full power adjustment with lumbar as well as heating and ventilation. Practicality is great too. The glove box is a large drawer while the central tunnel, with its layered, open storage planes can also be adjusted fore and aft by 140mm.

The feature highlights are dual-zone AC with very detailed climate control functions, sounds of nature, wireless charging, auto headlamps and wipers, 8-speaker Bose audio, OTA updates, Bluelink and heated outer mirrors. Misses are that Android Auto/Apple Carplay is still only wired and none of the 5 charge ports is Type-C.

The rear seat follows the general theme of the rest of the Ioniq 5's cabin. The long wheelbase makes this space far more spacious than a similarly priced ICE car. So most adults will have leg and knee room to spare. Unlike many EVs, the low, flat floor means that the seat is at the correct height so thigh support isn't compromised. The wide cabin also means that three adults will fit here. Adding to the sense of comfort is the fore-aft power adjustment and the generous angle of recline. The seats also have well-judged cushioning and a heating function. The fixed sunroof also doesn't eat into headroom as much and there are sun shades to round off the experience.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 driving impressions

The first thing you notice when you start driving the Ioniq 5 is the way it seems to shrink around you. It feels smaller to manoeuvre than its dimensions suggest mainly with the great visibility on offer. There's no engine to accommodate up front so the dash sits low and you have a good view of the car's extremities through the large windscreen. This ties in with the impressive NVH levels. Wind and tyre noise is especially well controlled for an EV considering the large wheel sizes.

A 217PS and 350 Nm electric motor at the rear powers the Ioniq 5. The power output is 11PS less than the single-motor EV6 but in isolation, the Ioniq 5 is marginally quicker than most combustion-engined rivals in the same price range with a 0 to 100 kmph time of 7.6s. The instantly available EV torque enhances this sense so the Ioniq 5 will never leave you wanting for performance in any commuting situation. Power builds in a swell rather than in a sharp dollop like in some other EVs, but this is sustained well into highway speeds. So the Ioniq 5 will still have performance for closing gaps or overtakes here.

You get three drive modes Eco, Normal and Sport which change throttle response and steering feel. Consequently, Eco mode is perfectly usable as a daily setting without making the Ioniq 5 feel hobbled. That said, the Sport mode can leave you a bit cold since there is only a mild sense of added urgency here.

A bigger change to the driving experience comes from the regen modes. There's a full coasting mode which has the Ioniq 5 freewheeling or you can use the paddles to progressively increase regenerative force. This brings a noticeable change in the resistance you feel to forward motion, quite similar to downshifting. We found the middle level 2 and level 3 to be the best for most situations, feeling closest to engine braking in an ICE car. There's also quite an aggressive one-pedal driving mode which could be quite useful for frugal driving in traffic once you get the hang of it.

There's even an auto mode for the regen that'll constantly vary the level depending on the driving conditions. Uniquely, this function uses the radar to judge regen levels which we found works intuitively enough to not distract from the driving experience. One of the highlights of the Ioniq 5's driving experience is the brake calibration. The switch from regen to the friction brakes is nearly seamless with none of the dissonances you otherwise feel in many EVs.

You will also be pleasantly surprised by the Ioniq 5's ride comfort. Despite these large, low-profile wheels, the EV feels pliant over our roads. There's only a tinge of firmness that you find in EVs usually but that only becomes uncomfortable over very rough surfaces. The Ioniq stays flat and poised at higher speeds with a plushness that is soothing.

This is matched with a competent handling character, with that sense of balance that you usually find in rear-driven cars. Yes, there is some roll if you take a corner too quickly but in regular driving, the Ioniq 5 feels confident with the low-slung weight being well managed. The steering is thoughtfully judged too with a good balance between directness and heft.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 safety

There is Level 2 ADAS which if the Tucson is anything to go by should be quite useful in our conditions. You get 6 airbags where 8 would have been ideal, all-four disc brakes, 360-degree camera with the blind view monitors, TPMS and hill-start.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 verdict, price

Priced at Rs 45.95 lakh, the Ioniq 5 is a clear step forward for Hyundai. It is expensive but Hyundai India has been able to create a package that feels good value. This is down to the clear step-up you notice in refinement, build and driving character over its lesser products. Pair that with the long features list, practical cabin and usefully long range, the Ioniq 5 isn't just a competent EV. It has enough to offer to be a mainstream option among the larger premium SUV segment if you have a usage cycle that works with an EV of course.

Also read,

Hyundai Ioniq 5 receives over 650 bookings; deliveries to start in March

Auto Expo 2023: Hyundai Ioniq 5 launched in India, prices start from 44.95 lakh

Hyundai Ioniq 5 unveiled in India

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)
17.01 Kmpl
Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 59.95 Lakhs
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)