- All-wheel drive and up to 641 horsepower means 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds.
- Retuned suspension, a stiffer chassis and sticky tires deliver precise handling.
- More settings than you can shake a stick at.
- Should cost less than $70K.
Driven: Hyundai's Ioniq 5 N Is the First Genuinely Fun EV
When designing a new electric vehicle, an automaker will usually come to a crossroads where it'll have to decide whether to prioritize efficiency or neck-snapping acceleration (though if the price of the vehicle is set high enough, it might offer both). Batteries are heavy, and adding greater capacity to fuel more powerful motors and increase range can send the weight into the stratosphere. Wonder how the GMC Hummer EV can manage a respectable 314 miles of range and a 3.3-second 0-60 mph run? The battery pack is the size of a New York studio apartment and the trucks weighs the same as your typical Asian elephant.
For automakers attempting a performance-oriented electric vehicle, then, the porky batteries present a significant challenge in creating something that feels nimble and genuinely fun to drive. Hyundai's N division, known for transforming the funky Veloster (RIP) and sensible Elantra into scrappy corner carvers, has taken on the task and turned its attention to the highly acclaimed and stylish electric Ioniq 5. Of course the N team added the requisite wallop of power to this EV, but they've also applied technology and tuning tricks learned from their successful racing programs and their way cool rolling laboratories, like the RN22e and the jaw-dropping N Vision 74.
The result is the 2025 Ioniq 5 N, which Hyundai insists is the first EV that will be truly fun to drive — not only on a back road, but also capable of handling its business on a racetrack. Oh, and it has a drift mode too. Naturally.
So what's different?
You can't respectably have a performance version of anything without adding more power, and the Ioniq 5 N is no different. Now making a combined 601 horsepower from two motors (223 hp on the front axle and 378 hp on the rear) — a palpable increase over the standard all-wheel-drive Ioniq 5's 320 hp — the 5 N offers an additional boost of juice via the N Grin Boost mode (yes, really) to raise the output to 641 hp.
Comprehensive changes to the chassis and suspension ensure this 5 N delivers more than just the usual EV party trick of power. Mounts for the battery and electric motors have been reinforced, as has the steering column, and the chassis has received an additional 42 new welds to help stiffen things up. The front suspension has been redesigned and both subframes have also been beefed up.
There's an electronic limited-slip differential in the rear motor, and stronger axles have been installed to handle the significant increase in torque. Capping everything off are the 5 N's retuned dampers, significantly bigger brakes (15.8 inches up front and 14.2 inches in the back) and 21-inch forged aluminum wheels.
Of course there are styling differences, too. There are scoops, flicks, wings and ducts everywhere to help redirect air, but they also have the side effect of punching up the Ioniq 5's curb appeal for us enthusiasts, as will the 5 N's sport seats, unique steering wheel and other sporty interior touches.
So is this really an electric hot hatch SUV thing?
Absolutely it is. As you'd expect from a performance-oriented anything, the ride is decidedly firm in the 5 N, even in its most relaxed setting. But the reworked suspension has the measure of the mass of the 5 N, which we reckon to be approaching 4,500 pounds. Bumps are certainly felt but high-speed dips are absorbed well and, when pushed to moderate speeds, the body stays commendably flat.
Exploring a back road in the 5 N is when things get a bit more serious and a lot more impressive. Clicking the 5 N into its special N mode tightens up the suspension, sharpens its responses and turns this EV into the closest thing to a Porsche Cayenne Turbo GT outside of, well, a Cayenne Turbo GT. As you fire the 5 N out of slow- to medium-speed corners, traction is at once both impressive and scary. Thanks to the 5 N's ample power and the immediacy at which it's deployed, the Hyundai hurtles toward the next corner at an awe-inspiring rate.
The steering is crisp and usually light, but super accurate. And thanks to the 5 N's multiple levels of brake regeneration, most twisty roads can be stormed with very little need for heavy use of the mechanical brakes. Should you want the full EV experience, this speed can be achieved silently or with a synthetic soundtrack. Hyundai calls it N Active Sound+ and while it didn't manage to produce any enjoyable or faintly realistic engine sounds, it does help create a link for drivers used to the suite of noises produced by a high-performance internal combustion engine.
Adding to that is the 5 N's somewhat controversial N e-shift feature. When activated, this gives the 5 N a virtual eight-speed gearbox, complete with a rev limiter that you can absolutely slam into if you're not minding the steering wheel-mounted paddles closely enough. Initially a gimmick, we found it to actually help us translate the 5 N's impressive rate of acceleration with more familiar cues. And even though the "shifting" means the 5 N is marginally slower than just letting it accelerate like an EV should, we quickly found the N e-shift to be second nature and our preferred format when driving quickly.
Just track stuff
Like all vehicles you can take on track, the Ioniq 5 N's biggest enemy is heat. To combat this, Hyundai has given the 5 N additional cooling to keep its 84-kWh battery at its optimum temperature. To maintain the most power across a standard track session, the 5 N has an N Race track-specific endurance mode to give the driver most of 5 N's considerable power for the longest period of time. There's also a Sprint mode to unleash all the 5 N's power for a few full-on hot laps.
Even with the 5 N's upgraded brakes, changes have been made to the 5 N's regenerative braking system to not only stretch the longevity of the mechanical brakes but also to maximize the turn-in and adjustability of the 5 N during hard cornering. Selecting the N Brake Regen setting delivers up to 0.6 g of regenerative braking (most EVs max out at just over 0.2 g), allowing a skilled driver to dramatically tighten their entry into a corner with only deft modulation of the throttle pedal. In practice we found it to be fairly effective in the dry and have no doubt it would be doubly so on a wet or even a frozen surface. It should be noted that Hyundai does not recommend using this setting on public roads as it could lead to aggressive rotation, making the 5 N easier to spin out. That's how you know it's a good system.
Of course, like many high-powered sport sedan/hatchback/SUV things, the 5 N comes with a drift mode. Known as — wait for it — N Drift Optimizer, the 5 N has specific software to help novice drifters initiate and hold some pretty lurid slides should they have a parking lot all to themselves. In practice we found it a bit tricky but largely successful in helping us maintain a drift. Of course, a more experienced drifter would just shut everything off and handle it the old-fashioned way, but the combination of all-wheel drive and 601 horsepower does make the 5 N a bit of a beast if you're not careful.
Short of exotic EVs you'll never see in real life with price tags north of million dollars, there just aren't any electrics that are remotely fun and engaging to drive. The Ioniq 5 N breaks new ground in the performance EV space by combining the serious straight-line speed we've come to expect from a fast EV with the corner carving and all-around fun we've come to expect from Hyundai's N tuning brand.
While we don't yet have official pricing or an official EPA range number, we'd expect all this fun to come in just shy of $70K and probably be good for about 250 miles of range, should you not drive it like an N car. At first blush we're deeply impressed by the Ioniq 5 N and can't wait to get it in for testing and our expert review.