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2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N First Drive: We Lapped Laguna Seca and Didn't Want to Stop

Hilariously fast and amazing value for money, the Ioniq 5 N is a daily driver with track credentials

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N driving
  • This big, electric hot hatch makes as much as 641 horsepower and comes with all-wheel drive.
  • There are too many drive settings. Like, way too many.
  • The Ioniq 5 N sets a new bar for afforable, fast and fun-to-drive EVs.

Mention the Nürburgring to car enthusiasts and you'll either get them salivating or see some eyes roll. It's a benchmark that has become a bit overused, and one flying lap seems to do more for marketing cred than hold any meaningful significance for a vehicle in the real world. Claims of developing an EV capable of lapping the historic German circuit at a high speed but also having a long list of creature comforts, 350 kW of charging capability, and costing less than $100,000 all seem like talking points of a plucky startup. 

But I'm not talking about some startup with stars in their eyes; I'm talking about Hyundai. While a handful of big auto manufacturers have dabbled in high-performance EVs, all of those are either stratospherically expensive, half-baked road cars or too compromised to be all that good at either thing. The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N was developed at the Nürburgring, but not for lap times. Durability and just plain old enjoyment were the benchmarks here and the Ioniq 5 N looks to add another dimension to the EV experience and show other manufacturers the way. 

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2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N profile

Beefed up

As I've driven the Ioniq 5 N in South Korea, and because it hasn't received any surprise changes since that drive, I'll skip over most of the details. It's still packing all-wheel drive, it still has 601 horsepower (641 hp if you hit the orange button on the steering wheel), and it's still a lower, wider, beefed-up, reinforced version of the Ioniq 5 that we at Edmunds have come to love. 

One major detail that has come to light is its weight. I originally guessed it to be around 4,500 pounds, but much like my own weight, I sort of underestimated the mass of the 5 N. The official number from Hyundai is 4,861 pounds, which is 163 pounds heavier than a dual-motor Ioniq 5 Edmunds tested in December 2022. As most manufacturers' track day specials are usually stripped-back versions of a more sensible car, that extra weight might be a bit of a head scratcher, but the 5 N still retains the same 84-kWh battery pack and the same long list of features found in the standard Ioniq 5. Add on all the extra bracing, cooler and other performance ephemera, and there's your extra weight. 

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N cooling vents

Getting to Laguna Seca

On a highway as smooth as the 101, the 5 N will feel like a stiffer and more buttoned-down version of the standard Ioniq 5. It in no way feels like a vehicle packing up to 641 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque. With an estimated range of 221 miles, you're probably going to need to stop for at least one extra recharge every now and then, but since the 5 N is just as quick to charge as the standard model, at least you won't be plugged in for long. Hyundai quotes a time of just 18 minutes to go from 10% to 80% if you can find a 250-kW (or better) charger. During that downtime I strongly suggest you explore the brain-clogging amount of settings the 5 N offers. 

Apart from the standard drive modes, there's the N mode button. This unlocks the ability to set the 5 N up in ways you never thought you needed or wanted. Most of the major settings all begin with the letter N. 

There's N e-shift (that gives you simulated gear shifts from a simulated eight-speed transmission), N Active Sound+ (this gives you the choice of three interior soundtracks), N Drift Optimizer (pretty self-explanatory), N Launch Control (again, it does what it says on the label), N Torque Distribution (allows you to shift the power around for different driving conditions) and N Grin Boost (adds an extra 41 hp for 10-second bursts). Not all of these settings can be had independently of one another, so it will take some time to not only figure out what you want but also how to get them to activate. Thankfully there are customizable modes to save these presets because you might never remember how you got to them.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N rear driving

If you don't feel like studying the manual while waiting for an open charger, I'd suggest activating the N Drift Optimizer and practicing some skids to assert dominance over the other EVs. Or maybe not.

Once back on the road, and I suggest you make it a good one, the performance of the 5 N will most likely scramble your brain. Even without delving into the myriad settings and nuanced trickeries available, this car just flat-out hauls ***. With just a simple switch into the Sport drive mode, the 5 N becomes stiffer and more reactive to every input. The light steering takes some getting used to but not as much as the way the 5 N seems to teleport between short straightaways. It's fast enough to make familiar roads unfamiliar and there's enough grip and traction to give even experienced drivers pause before they really give the 5 N all the throttle. For the price, or even double it, I can't think of anything faster out here.

The party trick

You'll want to make sure that the 5 N is suitably topped off since most tracks don't have a robust charging infrastructure, if they have one at all. Hyundai told me it's been in talks with a variety of circuits in the U.S. and Europe with the hopes of installing charging stations, but that process has proven to be a lot more complicated than originally thought. Currently, only the Inje circuit in South Korea is set up with the necessary high-speed chargers. Not coincidentally, this track will host the inaugural round of the one-make racing series built around the Ioniq 5 N eN1 Cup race car. Hopefully I get to take a spin in one of those soon.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N headlights

Today's racetrack is WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, though "Seca" or "Laguna" or "Laguna Seca" will do just fine. Iconic and blessed with elevation changes and near-perfect scenery, Seca is both at once easy to understand and technical, with differing lines and techniques required as your speed increases. Though I've driven Laguna a million times playing various games, I've only put rubber to the tarmac once in real life. And it was raining.

Belted into the 5 N, the weather was perfect: sunny and in the low 60s. Hyundai had arranged for me to follow a professional racing driver and Pikes Peak Hillclimb champion, Robin Shute. I was walked through the various settings, and after two four-lap sessions, settled on my final selection — maximum everything. I like using the N e-shift and the Active Sound features; they help my brain connect familiar, audible cues to the rapid, and otherwise silent, pace of the 5 N. I'd also be deploying the N Race option, which conditions the battery for maximum performance and unlocks the N Grin Boost function for extra power on Seca's relatively short straights. Whether or not Robin Shute did any of these things is debatable, but I like to think he had to call on a few of the 5 N's tricks to go so fast.

In a slower car — think Mazda MX-5 Miata or Subaru BRZ — Turn 1 at Laguna Seca is a slight kink to the left at the top of a blind crest. Track position isn't particularly important, but you'll likely stick close to the pit wall and keep it there. You'll have plenty of time to see where you are and where you're going when you get to the other side. Tapping the Boost button in the 5 N the moment you pick up the throttle on the exit of the hairpin that is Turn 11, the final turn, sends the 5 N hurtling toward that nothing of a turn, Turn 1. Although now it's really something. You're going fast enough that you need to keep the car far to the right, nearly 40 feet from where you'd be in that Miata, to come out of the other side with enough track to work with.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N driving

Here, Robin keeps the steering wheel as straight as he can and doesn't lift, so I do the same. At the top of Turn 1 are bumps — again, nothing in a slower car, but in the 5 N you feel them. Even with all of its road-hugging weight and riding in its stiffest suspension setting, the 5 N gets worryingly light at the crest and threatens to get loose over those seemingly minor bumps. Maximum braking comes at the exact moment you feel the full weight of the 5 N come back on all four of its Pirellis and, if you do it just right, you can trailbrake the 5 N down into the Andretti Hairpin, Turn 2, before absolutely firing it out toward Turn 3.

Playing video games taught me that Turns 3 and 4 require some patience, and while the 5 N requires that, too, it doesn't require nearly as much once you pick up the throttle. Thanks to the traction of all-wheel drive and the rear end's limited-slip differential, you can go to full power in one quick push of the pedal. Turn 5, which lives at the end of a short straightaway, already has my attention and I'm back on the 5 N's big 15.7-inch brakes before I know it. In case you're wondering, Robin hit the brakes well after the bridge, so I did, too.

Turn 6 is a test no matter what car you're driving. It leads onto the Rahal Straight, a long, not-so-straight straight, and like any good corner, there's speed to be carried and walls to smack. At the apex of Turn 6 is a substantial dip, which causes major suspension compression, but the 5 N shrugs it off and, guess what, you're back on the power. Another push of the Boost button and all that torque means the uphill straight is dispatched like nothing, which puts you on the doorstep to the famous Turns 8 and 8A, aka the Corkscrew. 

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N interior

As dramatic as it looks, the Corkscrew isn't really that difficult to figure out. Heavy braking gives a squawk from the Pirellis and once you get over the blind setup, you just point the 5 N where you want it to go and you're there. But this is a rare spot in the lap where the 5 N doesn't come off feeling like a street-legal race car. It's very heavy — over 4,800 pounds — and as well as that mass is handled, it's still a road car with road car bits. Under the extreme compression and significant side loading (you're still turning right at the bottom of the turn) you can feel the 5 N move and wriggle beneath you. The rubber bushings that help keep the ride civil on the highway are now flexing heavily under the load, as are the sidewalls of the Pirellis, and it's something that I had to adjust to. It didn't quite feel loose, but it felt pretty close. There's a lot of movement going on but you have to trust the sensations you're getting through the 5 N's great seats and hang on. 

Turn 9, or Rainey Curve, was also another reminder of the 5 N's significant heft. It's a downhill and somewhat tricky decreasing-radius left-hander that puts a lot of stress on the right front tire. A couple of miles an hour too fast on the way in would be heard as well as felt from the poor Pirellis. The 5 N's strong regenerative braking can help you scrub off enough speed without upsetting the balance to keep things tidy, which you need to do before an equally quick Turn 10 arrives at the bottom of this downhill section. As responsive as the 5 N may be, you still need to consider the weight and the time it takes to overcome that when changing directions. The 5 N is magic, but it is still mortal. The straightforward hairpin that is Turn 11 signals the end of the lap, as well as another chance to push the Boost button and another shot at getting Turn 1 right again. Somehow Robin has pulled even farther ahead.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N driving

All of this talk of lapping might make you forget that the 5 N is an EV. And there just aren't many that could put up with back-to-back-to-back hot laps without having to worry about overheating. Whether your track car uses internal combustion or electric motors, heat is the enemy. To keep that at bay for as long as possible, Hyundai added significantly more cooling to the N, for both the battery and the motors. It's one thing to turn one flying lap, but it's another to turn two, back to back. In fact, Hyundai claims the Ioniq 5 N can do two full laps of the Nürburgring without issue, which is something most other performance EVs cannot do.  

The price of admission

In stark contrast to the ludicrous number of settings, the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is available in just one trim and without any real options. Other than your choice of one of five colors, that's it. The price for all this capability is $67,475, including destination. Sure, that's about $9,000 more than a fully loaded Ioniq 5 Limited, but the 5 N nearly feels like a different vehicle altogether. And its price puts it right in the wheelhouse of the BMW M2, Nissan Z Nismo and Ford Mustang Dark Horse. None of those have the power, the all-wheel drive or the level of equipment you can get on the 5 N. The way I see it, the Hyundai is a performance bargain.

Edmunds says

There are EVs that are quicker. There are EVs that can lap a track faster. There are EVs that are far more efficient. But there aren't any that can do what the 5 N can do, for the price. Not even close. The 5 N is an unlikely combination of Hyundai's deep touring car and rally car heritage and its rapid ascent in the EV world. More than anything, the Ioniq 5 N is hilariously fun to drive, capable, comfortable, alarmingly fast and relatively affordable. That's a combination we've never seen in an EV before.

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