Getting a group of motoring writers to agree on anything is a bit like getting Anthony Albanese to write a character reference for Scott Morrison.
So it says something when a car wins just about every award and accolade voted on by the world’s motoring press.
This is that car – Hyundai’s all-new electric offering – the Ioniq 5.
It’s instantly become the darling of critics worldwide – named as Car of the Year in more than a dozen countries, as well as by Australia’s national motoring clubs and a handful more of Australia’s motoring press. It was even named Car of the Year in Germany in a move that no doubt delighted local manufacturers.
And it’s not just motoring writers who’ve noticed this eye-catching machine.
Sales of the Ioniq 5 have substantially outstripped supply, so would-be owners are being signed up in groups as batches of stock slowly reach Australia. It has been reported that the Australian allocation for 2022 was 400 units, although this has been gobbled up and further orders confirmed.
Even in such restricted numbers, the car could become a familiar sight on Australian roads, while the Ioniq’s corporate twin – the almost identical Kia EV6 – will also help satisfy some of this growing demand.
But there’s no question these two latest electric offerings, from the country that has perfected the electronic gadget, are going to make an impression.
The Ioniq 5 cockpit is classy and beautiful, and designers have avoided going over the top. No ridiculous chimes or whirring sounds, nor flashing lights.
Yes, the styling reflects its hi-tech DNA, but that’s to be expected from the Koreans.
And while EV pricing continues to feel inflated when compared to conventional models, the Ioniq is one of the first to genuinely feel as if it offers value for money.
There are two main choices – a 2WD variant pushing out a very adequate 160kW (tested here); and a twin-motor, 4WD flagship which whacks the power up to 225kW and the price up by about four grand to $75,600, plus on road costs.
Despite its relatively modest dimensions (4635m long, 1890mm wide and 1605mm high) it offers vast interior space – created by clever design, the lack of a transmission tunnel, and the car’s ultra-flexible interior layout.
In fact while the Ioniq is almost identical in size to Hyundai’s Tucson SUV, it feels far roomier.
The glassy cabin and the uncluttered, brilliantly thought-out cockpit further accentuate the feeling of light and space.
There’s almost too much storage space – cup holders and little knick-knack spots are everywhere – not to mention the passenger side’s glove box which pulls out, like a drawer, rather than the conventional flap-opening style. There’s also a magnetised spot on the dash, in front of the driver, serving as a smartphone mount when using navigation apps.
The centre console slides forward and back and both rows of seats slide electrically to create massively flexible cargo space. The two front seats can also be laid back almost completely flat.
The list of features is long, starting with side-by-side 12.3-inch displays which form the heart of the dash and instrument cluster. Seats are heated in both rows, ventilated in the front, and there’s a panoramic sunroof, quality Bose audio, power hatch release and some cool ambient lighting. So it more than satisfies the gadgets-per-buck quota.
Soft surfaces promote a classy ambience in the cockpit. Unlike most manufacturers, Hyundai has made the centre-screens in light, bright tones (instead of the usual black). Graphics are elegant and stylish.
The exterior styling is perhaps a bit divisive, attracting feedback ranging from “cool” to “weird – like it’s been cut off”. But it’s eye-catching without trying to be deliberately “futuristic”. Yes, it’s different, but in an agreeable kind of way.
One of the few complaints was the door handles that pop out from their flush fitting when the doors are unlocked. All good, except they extend out at an odd angle that makes them tricky to grab and apply the leverage needed to open the door.
No such problem inside where the round door handles feel nicely tactile.
The Ioniq is a car absolutely of its time.
It doesn’t keep nudging you to be impressed by its form of propulsion – it just goes without fuss or fanfare as soon as the little stalk on the steering column is turned in your direction of travel – forward for drive, backwards for reverse.
Outside it looks unlike most other cars, but still brings a sporty, sturdy aesthetic. Which, oddly enough, is how it feels on the open road.
The lower-powered model tested here delivered more than adequate performance – somewhere between nippy and zippy – with the one-pedal driving option making it excellent fun to drive.
There’s a reason the Ioniq5 has so delighted the world’s motoring critics over the past few months and it’s not because a bunch of scribes are trying to nudge car buyers towards the future. It’s because that future has arrived.
HYUNDAI IONIQ 5
* HOW BIG? It’s slightly larger than an average hatchback with a flexible cabin set up that makes the Ioniq feel bigger than it appears from the outside.
* HOW FAST? The less powerful single-motor variant delivers a decent punch of 160kW. Spend a few grand more to get 225kW from the dual-motor variant.
* HOW THIRSTY? The Ioniq offers more than 430km of driving range – among the best in an EV of this price.
* HOW MUCH? The entry-level model costs $71,900. The more powerful variant costs an additional $4000.