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First Drive: Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Sets the Benchmark for EV Performance

by | April 16, 2024

Hyundai may be a brand for the masses, but ignore any model wearing the “N” badge at your own peril. And now, the performance sub-brand is working its magic on the Korean carmaker’s first dedicated EV, the Ioniq 5. But does it live up to expectations? To find out, Headlight.News headed out to California’s scenic Monterey Peninsula to push the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 N to its limits, on track and off.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - static display beauty shot

With the launch of the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, the Korean carmaker has transformed a pleasant little EV into a track-ready beast.

It’s been more than a decade since the first mass-market EVs rolled into showrooms. Those slow and ungainly little machines have been replaced by an assortment of new models covering a rapidly expanding array of market segments. Hyundai now offers three models in its line-up, including the Ioniq 5, its first to ride on a dedicated, skateboard-like platform.

At its launch, the little crossover proved to be a pleasant enough vehicle to drive, with both single and twin-motor options available. But Hyundai was determined to push things to the next level, answering that eternal question: “What if?” In this case, “What if you push the Ioniq 5 to its limits?” To come up with an answer it turned to its N engineering team, the folks who’ve transformed conventional, gas-powered products like the Elantra and Veloster into formidable, track-ready beasts.

They took the mainstream Ioniq 5 and cut weight wherever possible, updated the EV’s electronic control system and its motors. They upgraded the suspension and blended braking system. And they swapped out the stock seats for grippier buckets that could hold you in place, even while pushing things to the limits.

Behold the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - red rear 3-4 detail on pit lane

I got my first chance to drive the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N at the challenging Weather Tech Laguna Seca race track.

The resultant package has been dubbed the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. And if there’s still anyone left who doesn’t understand the performance potential of battery-electric vehicles, they just need to spend a little time behind the wheel of this beast.

In N form, the Ioniq 5 punches out a hefty 601 horsepower – 641 when you engage its appropriately named “Grin” mode. And that number actually understates what you’ll unleash with a heavy right foot. The Ioniq 5 N makes good use of the fact that electric motors deliver essentially 100% of their torque the moment they start spinning.

There some drawbacks, notably the weight of the crossover’s big battery pack. Even after making some heroic efforts at “lightweighting,” the all-electric N still comes in at nearly 5,000 pounds. On the plus side, the battery pack and motors sit low to the ground and mass is evenly distributed between the front and rear wheels, yielding a low center of gravity and a near 50:50 weight distribution.

I quickly discovered what this all translates into during a day of driving split between laps on the challenging Weather Tech Laguna Seca Raceway and some of my favorite public roads carving through the scenic Monterey Peninsula. But first, a look at the basics.

Not just a rebadged Kia EV6 GT

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - front 3-4 sunrise REL

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N features a number of body updates, including larger intakes to keep the battery pack and motors cool.

The Ioniq 5 is based on the Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP architecture, which it shares with several other current EVs, including the Kia EV6. The sibling Korean grand actually was the first to test the performance potential of this platform with the introduction of the EV6 GT last year. Like the original Ioniq, the base EV6 is no slouch, making up to 320 horsepower. And the GT took that up a big notch, to 576 hp and 545 pound-feet of torque.

So, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N commands the lead when it comes to power. It also has a number of upgrades that should give it a leg up in terms of handling in the friendly rivalry with its partner brand.

The Hyundai development team also went to great lengths, to introduce specific features that give the Ioniq 5 N its own unique personality when compared to the Kia performance model.

More Hyundai News

Extensive upgrades

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - rear 3-4 blue approaching track

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N gets a stiffer body, revised steering and other essential upgrades.

The base Ioniq 5 is available in both single and dual-motor configurations. The N package does more than just amp up the power coming out of its twin motors.

To stiffen the body there are dozens of additional weld points and the body-in-white adds substantially more structural adhesive. Both motors, along with the 84-kilowatt-hour battery pack, get reinforced mountings, as do the front and rear subframes. The Ioniq 5 N also gets what Hyundai describes as “World Rally Championship-inspired integrated drive axles.” These are not only stiffer and stronger but lighter, helping offset the crossover’s 21-inch forged aluminum wheels.

A new rack-mounted motor-driven steering system delivers a quicker steering ratio and, the automaker claims, better feedback.

The new N Pedal is a software function that, says Hyundai, “is designed to provide instant turn-in behavior and enhanced throttle sensitivity.” The Ioniq N also gets a new “drift optimizer,” which is meant to simulate the way a driver can let the back end hang out with a rear-wheel-drive gas model.

Grin and bear it

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5N - engine bay

You won’t see much lifting the hood of the Ioniq 5 N but the twin-motor drive system can deliver as much as 648 hp when N Grin Mode is engaged.

The heart of the beast is, of course, the electric drivetrain. The original Ioniq 5 makes 218 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque with the single, rear-mounted base package, while the twin-motor, all-wheel-drive package bumps that to 306 hp and 446 lb-ft and can launch you from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds.

With the Ioniq 5 N combined output jumps to 601 horsepower and 545 pound-feet of torque in normal mode. That jumps to a hefty 641 hp and 568 lb-ft in N Grin Boost mode. Hit the NGB (Grin Mode) button atop the right side of the steering wheel and you’ll hit 60 in 3.25 seconds, the factory suggests, with an electronically limited top speed of 162 mph.

One down side is that N Grin Boost only can be engaged for short bursts of up to 10 seconds, in order to avoid overheating the electric drive system. You have to settle back for another 10 seconds before reactivating it.


2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - red on track v1

Despite its hefty mass, the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N was more than up to the task of challenging the Laguna Seca track.

Whether you’ve had the rare opportunity to drive the Laguna Seca course, or simply watched a race there on television you can be sure it’s one of the toughest tracks to master anywhere in the U.S. And few corners are more intimidating than the notorious “Corkscrew” that sees you coming out of a lengthy straight before diving into a downhill left-hander before having to muscle your beast into another 90-degree right turn.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of mass to muscle around the track. And you do feel it going into some corners. But the low center of gravity, combined with improvements to the steering system and suspension are quite effective at damping things out. Then there’s the upgraded regenerative braking system which can yield up to 0.6 Gs of deceleration in full iPedal mode. Whether on track or off, this is significantly more than most other EVs and, in many situations provides enough braking force that you seldom will need to work the left pedal.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5N - Grin Mode button REL

Tap the N Grin Mode button for an extra 40 hp.

What shocked me was just how predictable the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N proved to be on track. I was able to carve off time with each lap, especially after activating the simulated shift function. It may appear to be a gimmick but it actually helps when pushing the electric crossover to the limits. And here’s where the artificial audio track, designed to sound like a gas-powered Ioniq 5, pays off, giving you not just the visceral auditory thrill but helping you instinctively understand what the powertrain was doing.

Laguna Seca also helped show off the benefits of even just brief bursts of additional power. N Grin Mode provided just enough boost to launch out of the track’s tight corners onto the straights, and helped overcome Laguna’s steep elevation changes.

Everyday driving

I’ve been lucky enough to have clocked more than a dozen runs on the Laguna Seca track over the years and there’s no question it’s a great place to push the limits on a performance vehicle. But what I really wanted to know was how the Ioniq 5 N would behave in the sort of situation most drivers will likely experience. For that, I spent part of the day wandering around the Monterey Peninsula – including a long run down the back end of Carmel Valley Road.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - rear blue on street

The Ioniq 5 N also proved its stuff on Monterey public roads.

For those who’ve been fortunate enough to discover this stretch of tortured tarmac, it’s everything you wouldn’t want to experience in most street vehicles. It’s decades overdue for new pavement. It features unexpected switchbacks, a few single-lane stretches, sharp, off-camber turns and steep elevation changes. In other words, it’s perfect to exercise a performance vehicle. And the 5 N lived up to my expectations.

After an hour of driving, I eased back on the throttle and discovered that, under less aggressive driving conditions, the Hyundai crossover is surprisingly comfortable. Its adaptive dampers not only hold you tight to the pavement under hard driving, but did a surprisingly good job of soaking up the bumps, even on Carmel Valley Road.

Design and features

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N features a number of performance-focused design upgrades, starting with 21-inch Pirelli P Zero tires. The crossover’s overall dimensions have grown 2.0-inches longer to accommodate the big rubber, while the N also has been stretched 3.2 inches because of an integral rear diffuser. It sits 0.79 inches lower than the mainstream Ioniq 5 models, however.

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5N - interior REL

The Ioniq 5 N gets unique sport seats, metal pedals and steering wheel. And there are performance features integrated into the twin 12.3-inch displays.

Along with the diffuser, the N gets and exclusive wing-type spoiler and unique bumpers. There’s also a new rear windshield wiper and washer to help maintain visibility in “adverse conditions.”

The cabin features a number of N-branded details, starting with its new steering wheel, scuff plates and metal pedals. It’s the first N-branded steering wheel. And it gives easy reach to the paddles operating the N e-shift and N Pedal functions.

To keep a driver properly positioned, the N crossover gets new sport bucket seats, as well as knee pads and shin supports. Even the pedals have been redesigned to ensure contact while drifting or in power slides.

As with the more mundane Ioniq 5 packages, the N features twin 12.3-inch digital displays. Both have been updated with new functions suited to track use, however.

Range and charging

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5N - cargo bay REL

The new N package maintains the roomy cabin and large cargo bay of other Hyundai Ioniq 5 packages.

As you’d expect, the N model’s range takes a hit. It manages an EPA-estimated 221 miles per charge, down from the 256-mile rating with the mainstream, twin-motor Ioniq 5.

The Ioniq 5 N is fitted with an 84-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. But it’s a unique design that’s smaller and more energy-dense than what’s used in other versions of the electric crossover. That helps reduce mass while also allowing energy to be passed into and out of the pack more rapidly.

Hyundai estimates charging times of just 18 minutes to go from a 10 to 80% state-of-charge using a public quick charger capable of delivering at least 238 kilowatts. That stretches to 70 minutes with a 50 kW quick charger, while you’ll need 7 hours 20 minutes to go from drained to a 100% charge using a home Level 2 system.

Pricing and availability

2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N - two on track

The Ioniq 5 N is impressive both on and off track.

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is just beginning to roll into  U.S showrooms.

Pricing starts at $66,100 – before factoring in a $1,375 delivery charge.

Last word

Having already been impressed by the performance of the Kia EV6 GT, I had equally high expectations for the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N. Actually, a bit higher considering its upgraded power and features like the shift mode.

In virtually every way I could imagine, the Hyundai performance EV lived up to those hopes. True, there are some downsides. The added mass does impinge on handling, though the lower center of gravity and upgrades to suspension and braking minimize the impact. The N model is blindingly fast, nimble and easy to get comfortable with. It does take time to fully master, however. I’m hoping to clock more time with it in the coming months.

For most drivers, the standard-issue Ioniq 5 is plenty quick enough — and offers better range. But for those who want to see just how much performance a relatively mainstream EV can deliver, the Ioniq 5 N is likely to develop plenty of fans. And that includes those who might be looking for an alternative to the likes of the Tesla Model Y with its own performance package. Indeed, you’d really have to go for the  Tesla Model S with the Plaid package, or a top-line version of the Porsche Taycan to do better — if you’re willing to pay the additional premium.








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