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I Rode Shotgun in the New Hyundai Ioniq 5: It Changed My Attitude About EVs

Anyone who knew what Hyundai was up to 15 years ago would probably be amazed by some of the cars they turn out these days. Not the least of which is the Ioniq 5, a car that stole the show at this year's New York International Auto show.
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It doesn't matter that the Ioniq 5 has been with us for just over 13 months now. Because the crowd reaction at this year's show after a ride-along in the Ioniq 5 was nothing short of positive. A strong showing at the World Car of the Year awards was just gravy on top.

I was lucky enough to be at the front of the line as soon as Hyundai EV ride-along track was set to open on NYIAS's first press day. Its drivers, taken from Kia's racing programs, were more than up to the task of showing the waiting media what kind of guts these new EVs truly possessed.

The retro-futuristic styling of the Ioniq 5 is clear to see once you get a good up-close glimpse at one. The design aesthetic of the classic Hyundai Pony of 1980s vintage is indeed there if one looks for it.

But non-classic-KDM car enthusiasts will just think it looks pretty spiffy for a hatchback. I strolled leisurely up to the car due to take me around one of the three indoor EV tracks on show at this year's New York Auto Show.

My driver, who asked to remain anonymous on camera, was also one heck of a wordsmith as he ran up and down everything unique and quirky about the Ioniq 5's construction. The particular car I rode in that day was a top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive, dual-motor model with a combined power of 302 electric ponies.

But while its impressive power numbers are no doubt buzzworthy, the quality of the interior managed to be the biggest highlight of our ride-along. The full suite of 300 mm (12 in) screens, one in the instrument cluster and the other for the infotainment screen.

It makes some luxury cars of the last ten years feel spartan and incomplete. With an integrated heads-up display and augmented reality capability standard on this higher-end example, there's enough tech and features on tap to satisfy most junkies.

No sooner did I finish oggling all the beep-boops and gadgets did my driver ease his foot onto the accelerator and send us on our way down the track. A surface that contained a couple of remarkably long straightaways and even a lovely little chicane.

My driver effortlessly rattled off stats and figures about the Ioniq 5 from its base two-wheel drive, single-motor base car up to the all-wheel-drive extended range dual-motor setup as the flagship. It's as if Hyundai felt the need to really show off this year. After two years on the shelf, can you really blame them?

Surprisingly, the thing I felt most of all on my couple of minute-long ride in an Ioniq is that I wouldn't mind taking a nice, long road trip in one of these cars. I felt this because even as my driver did his best to hold the racing line in each corner, my big, American behind always felt comfortable, stable, and not at all feeling like the drive was all the exuberant.

Not to say that the suspension isn't poised and its driver isn't skillful. All I'll say is I'd love to see what he could do with his hands on the Z06 C8 Corvette also on display at this year's event. But as for the Ioniq 5 itself, I think there are some less raw horsepower-minded people in America who still have reservations about switching to a battery EV with their next trade-in who might find themselves converted by the time they step out of the passenger seat.

Now, we're not high up in our ivory towers here. We understand that $39,000 and change before taxes and fees is a big ask for a base model Hyundai. But please, don't give up hope just yet. We have reason to suspect the Ioniq 5 is the start of something magical in the EV space.

A reasonably affordable, utilitarian transportation system with features like a luxury car of years past. The kind of car Americans actually want to buy, the kind American manufacturers have blanketly refused to produce in the 21st century.

We needn't wait much than a little bit longer for this profound revolution to take place. At this point, the writing is on the wall. But hey, the future is always brighter. Good luck, Hyundai. The rest of the industry is about to get their collective you-know-what together. You're gonna need it.

Check back soon for more from our coverage of 2022's New York International Auto Show here on autoevolution.


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