One of the more intriguing parts of the affordable-car realm is the Hyundai N series. Every vehicle under this brand offers a wide array of user-adjustable features, including damping stiffness and tailpipe volume. These choices allow owners to establish a rhythm that is more in line with their individual preferences, and they help distinguish N apart from less configurable competitors. The Ioniq 5 N will be the first performance EV in this procession, and after sliding across a few frozen lakes, we’re pleased to announce that the future of N is as bright as it gets.

At its winter testing facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, Hyundai stated that it is not yet prepared to reveal complete specifications. We currently only know that the net output of the Ioniq 5 N’s dual electric motors is approximately 600 horsepower. Despite sharing the E-GMP chassis with the 576-horsepower Kia EV6 GT, this vehicle is not a carbon copy. There are fewer basic components in common than you may believe; numerous modifications were made specifically for the N division.

The Ioniq 5 N shares the same commitment to aesthetics as the Kona and Elantra N models. The exterior features a giant rear diffuser, large wheels with a creative design, larger brakes, thicker fenders and tyres, and an aggressive front bumper. The 5 N’s steering wheel contains four additional buttons for cycling through its drive modes and activating additional features. The most significant modification, though, is the addition of a fixed centre console; whilst the normal version may strive to increase interior capacity, the N model provides a location to brace your body as the lateral gs increase.


On a slippery, mostly frozen lake in unseasonably warm weather, it is almost certain that Pirelli Sottozero winter tyres without studs will skid. Hyundai had us attempt to hold a drift in the most aggressive N driving mode without any electronic assistance, and like any other vehicle, the Ioniq 5 N prototype required substantial throttle and steering input to prevent a spin. Switching to its dedicated drift mode modifies torque distribution at each wheel to better maintain a drift initiated by a hard push of the accelerator pedal or a sudden lift under full brake regeneration. Moreover, the steering lessens its dampening to permit finer control with less arm effort. It is still the driver’s responsibility to avoid spinning, but the drivetrain’s mechanisms inspire sufficient confidence to hang the tail out farther and for longer.

Nonetheless, you may not choose to use drift mode. There are still ways to tailor the Ioniq 5 N’s temperament to your driving preferences. There are four modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, and N) that modify the steering weight, damping, and throttle sensitivity, although a large number of automobile manufacturers permit this. The 5 N exceeds expectations by allowing the driver to adjust torque distribution along a spectrum between nearly full front and rear bias. Put everything towards the bow, and the 5 N responds similarly to a front-wheel-drive vehicle on ice, with terminal understeer and liftoff oversteer. You can best imitate a Mustang departing Cars and Coffee by throwing everything sternward.

These heroics are the result of two distinct forms of differentials. The rear differential of the Ioniq 5 N is equipped with an electronic limited-slip differential to shuffle torque left and right, whilst the front differential is open and combines with brake-based torque vectoring. The latter was chosen to save the weight and expense of the front end, but it is still highly capable. Even when the setup is working hard, the inside wheel produces little to no ABS-style brake noise. The net result is seamless functioning and amazing body control over conditions that would send average commuters running for a day off.

The Ioniq 5 N’s ability to direct its power in either direction affords significant advantages in classic winter driving situations. Starting and stopping on surfaces with mixed traction can be difficult, but the differentials did a commendable job of keeping the 5 N’s tracks straight during launches and when the ABS was engaged aggressively. We even climbed a 20% incline with the passenger-side wheels on pristine ice, and the Ioniq did it without incident.

But, not every piece of software is designed to make you Keiichi Tsuchiya. Certain elements immediately return to the theatre. By pressing the lower-right button on the steering wheel, the Ioniq 5 N will add simulated gearshifts, interrupting torque supply with a draw of either shift paddle to more closely resemble a gasoline-powered vehicle. By providing indicators that foster a sense of familiarity, it may help drivers accustomed to conventional vehicles transition to EVs. Activating this option also displays a tachometer on the gauge display, despite the fact that it does not correlate to e-motor speed; it is merely a decorative flourish with a false redline near the Elantra N’s actual redline. In this case, performance is irrelevant, as the feature contributes nothing in that regard. Instead, it provides drivers with an additional customization option for the 5 N.

Even the sound synthesiser contributes to the smooth transition. We felt it to be a welcome addition to the Ioniq’s drift mode, as the rising and falling sound is a decent audible indicator of how the tyres are behaving. Three alternative sounds will be available, but only one was available during our adventure; it gave the 5 N a little agitated four-cylinder sense. Do you like it? Excellent, then use it. Don’t like it? Moreover, there is no need to switch it on. Yet having options is a plus.