BMW's ex-M boss is ensuring Hyundai's first performance EV is a hoot to drive.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is likely the best EV on sale in the USA, all things considered. It keeps on claiming awards all over the globe, including the most prestigious World Car of the Year title.
Hyundai is not done with it yet and is saving the best for last. It's no secret the Korean brand is working on an Ioniq 5 N, which will be the first electric product from Hyundai's N division. Hyundai famously poached former BMW M boss Albert Biermann to take its go-faster division to the next level, and he over-delivered, with products like the Veloster N, Kona N, and Elantra N blowing reviewers' minds.
The Ioniq 5 N has been spied at the Nurburgring several times, but other than the fact that it exists, not much is known about it.
Biermann recently spoke to Australian publication Drive, making a few interesting comments. While no longer in charge of the N division, Biermann remains an executive technical advisor. The most unsurprising revelation is that the Ioniq 5 N will be much faster than its ICE sibling, the i30 N. The i30 N is not sold in the USA, but it's closely related to the brilliant Elantra N and Veloster N.
"It will be much faster than the Hyundai i30 N," said Biermann. "How could it be slower? It has almost 600 horsepower." Those 600 horses are not confirmed yet, however. Biermann simply chucked out a ballpark figure and was asked to clarify. "It's not finalized, it could be 580, 600, [or] 620 horsepower. It's a lot."
Naturally, Biermann isn't lying about the Ioniq 5N's performance, and with double the power, it stands to reason it would decimate the 286-hp Elantra. Circa-600 hp is about what we expected since the Ioniq N will share much of its powertrain with the 576-hp Kia EV6 GT.
But the N brand is about more than just brutal straight-line speed, which is pretty common in these electrifying times. Even the standard dual-motor Ioniq 5 is capable of dealing out a beating to every N product on sale in a straight line. Thankfully, the focus is not on that.
"Faster doesn't matter," said Biermann. "It's about grin, heartbeat. The question is, how much fun is it? How big is your grin?"
Biermann also confirmed that the Ioniq 5 N will inherit the Drift Mode, which first made its debut on the aforementioned Kia EV6 GT. The standard Ioniq 5 only has Normal, Eco, and Sport modes, but the obligatory N Mode is bound to make an appearance, with the Drift Mode being reserved for silly antics.
Engineering a drift setting for an EV is relatively easy. There is no physical connection between the front and rear motor, so the front stops interfering at the press of a button. As for how easy it will be to control said drifts, the Ioniq 5's wheelbase is nearly an inch longer than a BMW M5's, so things should be pretty easy to rein in.
The hardest part of building a performance EV is copying sound and vibration. "When I joined the company, we talked a lot about cutting noise; now we talk about adding sound to electric cars to give the driver a nice feeling, some excitement," said Biermann. "It is hard to mimic a dynamic explosion in a combustion system using only audio speakers inside the cabin. Sound is important, of course, but it's not the whole game."
Interestingly, Hyundai filed a patent for vibrating seats earlier this year. This feature is not new and has been used as a warning device before, but Hyundai has figured out a way to use this system to enhance the feel of a performance car.