mReview: Hyundai Ioniq 5 Prestige 58 kWh - Retro-Futurism Done Right

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If I can be unabashedly candid for a moment here, modern electric vehicles today are by and large starting to look a tad dull and yawn-inducing.

Whether you're sampling a Western offering or looking East, these rounded blobs of steel and glass are all more or less the same from a visual standpoint: not offensive or ugly, but not very striking either. 

And that’s a shame, because EVs are supposed to mark a major shift in the auto industry, redefining what's possible in the realm of not just powertrains and materials, but also how cars should look like in a post-fossil fuel society. 

Thankfully, though, not every carmaker is keen to follow the grain or make a car based on recommendations from their in-house bean counters. One such company is Hyundai, and their latest Ioniq 5 is proof that striking automotive design is indeed possible in an all-electric future.

A Cyberpunk Fever Dream

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If you're familiar with the likes of Akira or Ghost in the Shell, chances are you already know what cyberpunk vehicle design is. Sharp bold lines, an almost-utilitarian boxy silhouette, all intermixed with a fancy array of lights; the Ioniq 5 is exactly how a 21st century car should look like, if 80s futurist pop culture has taught us anything.

It's fitting that the Ioniq 5 is built here in Singapore too, considering we have many avant-garde skyscrapers that juxtapose nicely against traditional shophouses and public housing estates, just like in those science fiction flicks.

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The only curved elements found on this raised hatchback would be the wheel arches, themselves featuring creases that resemble blades to reflect the rotating motion of the wheels. Everywhere else, precise grid-like ridges dominate. 

Hyundai is clearly very proud this –  Parametric Pixels, as they call it – and it's basically their design blueprint for all future Ioniq cars, with the impossibly large and spaceship-esque Staria being their first production car to feature hints of it.

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This design language is most notable at the front, where pixel-style LED light elements form the basis of the Ionic 5's headlights. Even the housings are neatly arranged in pixel blocks, which evoke memories of those Game Boy video games that many of us used to play in the good old days. 

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It's also tastefully incorporated on the rear fascia, where the Hyundai EV once again has illuminated pixel-themed glass, this time flanking the raised "Ioniq 5" letterings.

The various horizontal ridges that line up along the satin metal finish panels give this retro-futuristic oversized hatchback a uniquely industrial look that the market rarely, if ever, sees in mass production vehicles.

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Speaking of size, the Ioniq 5 is deceptively small despite its dainty hatch looks. Measuring at just over 4.6 metres length-wise with a wheelbase of exactly 3.0 metres, it's longer than even its own Tucson sibling, and wider too (1.89 metres on the Ioniq 5 versus 1.86 metres on the Tucson).

Space in Spades

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While the Hyundai looks radical and cold on the outside, things are decidedly more grounded and daresay even cosy inside. 

Occupants are cocooned in a mix of supple, environmentally-friendly leather upholstery and fabrics, a nod to the carmaker's sustainability efforts. Even hard panels and components like the control switches are coated in "BIO paint" using extracts from rapeseed flowers and corn extracts.

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Two dash-mounted 12.3-inch screens provide the driver with critical vehicle and miscellaneous information in high definition, housed within thick white plastic bezels that admittedly look passé for such a forward-thinking vehicle.

Other niggles that I found are the signal and wiper stalks, which both feel a bit too light and plasticky even with metal-finish looks. 

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Having said that, these are at best personal dissatisfactions and are not deal breakers. The rest of the Ioniq 5's cabin definitely get my approval, especially with the in-built sounds of nature that you can play through the sound system, just like its other Korean cousin.

There is an abundance of space, further accentuated by intelligent spatial design to create a surprisingly airy atmosphere. 

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The centre console stops right after the cup holders, creating a large enough gap for the front occupants to put more barang-barang like small bags on the flat floor. Want even more space? That same console can be moved forwards or back to suit your requirements.

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Hyundai's designers were careful not to go overboard with the minimalist theme, and succeeded in fusing both digital and analogue switchgear for the HVAC and infotainment controls, making for a tactile experience that also displays information crisply.

And getting your favourite devices connected and charged up is very easy, with a 12V socket and up to three USB ports at the front alone (two more are positioned at the back), as well as a Qi wireless charging pad. 

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Rear passengers will find the space behind...well, spacious. There's ample amount of legroom and headroom for three full-size adults to sit in comfort, thanks to the flat flooring and relatively low positioning of the battery packs.

Claustrophobic folks can also rest assured that even with the dark upholstery, the cabin remains well-lit thanks to the panoramic glass roof and large windows all around.

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Most importantly, the Ioniq 5's B-pillars are home to a pair of AC blowers, keeping rear occupants nice and chilly. Those who need to charge something a bit more power-consuming on the move, like a laptop or toaster, can benefit from the car's Vehicle-To-Load (V2L) feature and use the power socket that sits just below the middle seat.

Now some of you may still be wondering, "That's it from Hyundai's much hyped car of the future?"

Au contraire, my dear readers, as the carmaker has already given it much thought and blessed the front seats with a so-called zero gravity function.

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With the flick of a switch, either seats can recline fully to provide a supremely relaxing experience that easily rivals a premium recliner. While resting as though you're floating in the air, you can even fine-tune the angle of the footrest to make the zero-gravity sensation even more satisfying.

This is quite the feature to have when waiting for the car to be charged, and you simply want to enjoy the AC or listen to your favourite podcast in absolute comfort.

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Just like the main cabin, the rear boot is fairly cavernous too, offering 527 litres of space and a low loading lip to put just about anything inside.

Quiet and Stable

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As expected from a COE Category A electric vehicle, this 58 kWh Prestige variant of the Ioniq 5 will not set your heart on fire with blistering headline figures, but it does move sufficiently fast when you floor the throttle. 

With 145 bhp and 350 Nm of torque to fiddle around with, you'll definitely have enough power to execute some quick overtaking manoeuvres when required. The Ioniq 5 goes from nought to 100 km/h in a leisurely 9.5 seconds, with the initial burst of speed beginning to plateau right after it hits 40-50 km/h.

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While it's not the most powerful version that you can readily buy today (that's reserved for the full-fat 77kWh Inspiration variant with 321 horses), this Prestige-spec Ioniq 5 is a remarkably smooth operator. Road undulations and bumps are absorbed rather effectively, while external squeaks, tyre roars, and other rattles are kept at a minimum. 

And despite the Hyundai's rear-wheel drive setup and somewhat numb steering feedback, it's exceptionally composed in slick conditions, taking corners quite readily thanks to the capable E-GMP platform.

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Regenerative braking on the car is good too, with various levels of braking available. I preferred the weakest setting for normal driving, letting it coast with my foot off the throttle. However, the maximum regen level helps a lot in recuperating precious kilometres when the vehicle was running low on charge.

On the topic of range, the Ioniq 5 is not a marathon runner, with official WLTP figures pegged at just south of 400 kilometres. During my time spent with the car, it delivered closer to between 330-340 kilometres, with an efficiency figure averaging at 5.6 km/kWh.

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But Hyundai has future-proofed it to handle ultra-fast 400V and even 800V charging infrastructures. That means that with a 350 kW charger, the battery can go from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes, a game-changing figure. With a more conventional 50 kW fast charger, it takes about an hour, which is the current industry standard.

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Two apps are available for Ioniq 5 owners too. Called BlueLink and Ioniq Care+, they both work in tandem to deliver a powerful EV ownership experience. 

The former focuses more on providing remote access to the car, allowing the app user to fiddle around with the HVAC or even powering it on/off when they're not physically close by. EV driving and management tips are available in the latter, and also has the ability to find chargers from various providers, and then linking the data up to the infotainment display.

Retro-Futurism Done Right

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At S$191,800, the Ioniq 5 in Prestige 58 kWh guise is an enticing gateway into premium electric car ownership. You get the best of both worlds – enjoying most of the car's available bells and whistles, while still benefitting from relatively low COE Cat A premiums (when compared to the 77 kWh variants). 

Furthermore, you get additional bragging rights of owning a car that's made just outside your doorstep! 

I'm loving this new direction that Hyundai is headed towards, and this futuristic city slicker is just the beginning of greater things to come. 

Hyundai Ioniq 5 Prestige 58 kWh Specifications
Price: $191,800  VES Band: A1
Asynchronous Motor
220 kw (295 bhp), 420 Nm
Single-Speed Automatic
Driven Wheels:
5.6 km/kWh
9.5 s
Top Speed:
185 km/h 
Battery Capacity:
58 kWh
4,635 mm x 1,890 mm x 1,647 mm
3,000 mm
Cargo Capacity:
527 litres

Photo Credits: Muhammad Mu'tasim (@mutasimdrives)

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