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Five reasons why the 2021 Hyundai Ioniq 5 could change the electric-car landscape in Australia

The Ioniq 5 is shaping up as a game-changing EV.

Tesla started it, the German premium brands have accelerated it, but Hyundai could be about to change the electric vehicle (EV) market in Australia.

The South Korean brand recently took the wraps off its new all-electric model, the Ioniq 5, which has the potential to shake-up the EV market that has, until now, been largely restricted to premium models with high price tags.

But that’s not the only reason the Ioniq 5 could have a big impact on the market when it arrives in the second half of 2021…

Hyundai is leading the way

While Toyota is the undisputed ‘king of hybrids’ in Australia, no mainstream car brand has stepped up in a similar way on EVs – until now. With the Ioniq 5, Hyundai has the opportunity to lead the way into the new era of electric motoring in this country.

Until now, the market has been dominated by the top end of the market – Tesla, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar— but Hyundai and Nissan have tried to offer more affordable models. But while the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq sedan and Nissan Leaf have been more affordable, they have also been a step behind the premium brands in terms of technology.

That’s not the case with the Ioniq 5, with it offering the latest and most advanced batteries and electric motors packaged up in a bespoke EV model that also happens to be an SUV, catering to the market demand. If Hyundai can price, position and market the Ioniq 5 well, then it has the potential to bring a lot of new customers to EVs.

It should undercut its European competition

Value is tricky to quantify in the new world of EVs. The MG ZS EV is the most affordable model, at $43,990 driveaway, while a Porsche Taycan Turbo S tops out at $338,500 plus on-road costs – and yet the Ioniq 5 has elements of both.

In terms of technology, the Ioniq 5 is the first model on Hyundai-Kia Group’s all-new E-GMP architecture that will underpin a range of electric models. This is seen as the next breakthrough step for the brand, taking the lessons learnt from its previous EVs and developing a far more sophisticated package. The Ioniq 5 will offer more performance, a longer range and faster charging than either the Ioniq or Kona Electric SUV – and by a significant margin.

Not that it will be a cheap model by any stretch. In fact, while Hyundai is being cagey on figures, our sources suggest the Ioniq 5 range could begin in the low-to-mid $60k range for the rear-wheel-drive variant and stretch beyond $80k for the high-spec, all-wheel-drive models.

While it’s neither a direct rival to the Tucson or Santa Fe SUVs, it has the potential to appeal to both types of buyers, so when you consider the Santa Fe range stretches to $65,200, the starting price of the Ioniq 5 sounds competitive.

Style and space

Carmakers have struggled for the past decade to find the right style for electrified cars, often caught between making a statement (BMW i3) or not making enough of a splash (Hyundai Ioniq). With the Ioniq 5, Hyundai appears to have found a good balance between contemporary styling that simultaneously fits within the current Hyundai range, whilst still being a unique model of its own.

Being based on the bespoke E-GMP platform, Hyundai has been able to maximise the advantages of not having an internal-combustion engine – something both the Ioniq and Kona Electric had to manage.

The Ioniq 5 measures 4635mm long but has a wheelbase of 3000mm, not only longer than the similarly sized Tucson, but also the Santa Fe and even the Palisade SUV. That makes for a mid-size SUV on the outside with the spaciousness of a larger model.

It also means an almost flat floor, without a transmission tunnel, that allows for a more flexible interior. One of the key selling points of the new machine is the Universal Island, a centre console with cupholders, USB inputs and a wireless smartphone charger, that can slide between the front and rear seats.

Speaking of the seats, Hyundai claims they can recline to provide the “optimum angle” for a “weightless feeling” as part of a holistic redesign of the interior.

Latest and greatest technology

As mentioned, the Ioniq 5 shares elements with the new Porsche Taycan super sedan. What precisely? Unfortunately for Hyundai, it’s not outright performance (although the Ioniq 5 is rapid, as we’ll delve into shortly), but it is electrical hardware.

The Porsche is the first EV to hit the Australian market with the latest-generation 800-volt electrical system, allowing for longer range and ultra-rapid charging. The Ioniq 5 has the same 800V system, which means using a 350kW charger it takes just 18 minutes to add 70 per cent battery capacity. And just five minutes on an ultra-rapid charger will add 100km of range, meaning the Ioniq 5 will be one of the fastest charging EVs on the market when it arrives later this year.

Not only that, but it has a party trick the Porsche doesn’t. It can be used as a power generator, known as Vehicle to Load (V2L) in the business, so if you need to charge your e-bicycle or -scooter, or even power a campsite, the Ioniq 5 can do that. It’s a ground-breaking change to EVs in this country that will only enhance their appeal moving forward.

Performance and range

Like an existing petrol- or diesel-powered SUV, the Ioniq 5 will come with a range of powertrain options to allow for a wider range which should, again, broaden its appeal. Hyundai Australia hasn’t actually confirmed what specifications will be available locally, but we know the Ioniq 5 is being built with both single motor (RWD) and dual motor (AWD) set-ups as well as the choice of two batteries: a 58kWh and a 72.6kWh.

Hyundai’s details of the top-of-the-range powertrain (the dual motor, AWD with 72.6kWh battery) make impressive reading; 225kW of power and 605Nm of torque. That’s enough, the company says, to launch the mid-size crossover from zero to 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.

Even the entry-level specification (single motor, RWD, 58kWh battery) are a solid 125kW/350Nm, so all models should perform well on the road.

Hyundai hasn’t given any details on range for the 58kWh battery yet, but has said the 72.6kWh version is good for more than 470km of driving between visits to the charger.

So, the combination of Hyundai’s burgeoning reputation, competitive value, contemporary style, cutting-edge technology and solid performance gives the Ioniq 5 the potential to be a game-changing vehicle not only for Hyundai, but mainstream EVs.

And it’s only the beginning, as Hyundai plans to have the Ioniq 6 sedan hit the market in 2022 before the Ioniq 7 large SUV comes on stream in 2024. By that time, Kia should have its EV6 (also built on the E-GMP platform) in the market and Genesis will also have its own version of the Ioniq 5.

Add into that mix the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4, and Mazda MX-30 and the market for mainstream EVs looks set to boom in the coming years, but Hyundai is positioned to lead the charge with the Ioniq 5.