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Hyundai IONIQ 5 N makes Australian debut at WTAC with Drift King; Drive modes detailed (video)

The IONIQ 5 will arrive in Australia during Q1 of 2024, with prices starting from $111,000

The world of electric vehicles is set to be shaken up with the arrival of the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N, which made its Australian debut at the 2023 World Time Attack Challenge in Sydney this weekend.

Hyundai selected an interesting arena to showcase the new model, perhaps hinting at the IONIQ 5 N’s serious track-ready credentials. It was accompanied by the Australian debut of the facelifted i30 Sedan N. The Drift King himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya, was the man to demonstrate the on-track capability.

Yep, drifting in an electric vehicle. It wasn’t that long ago when electric vehicles were purely an eco-focused exercise, almost a preview of what is possible in the future. Hyundai’s N division is proving that no, EVs can be made for fun driving as well.

As such, the IONIQ 5 N will come with a range of interesting driving modes and configurations, including completely variable front-to-rear torque distribution, from 100 per cent front-wheel drive or 100 per cent rear-wheel drive (see video below).

Driving Enthusiast spoke with one of the chassis dynamics engineers for the IONIQ 5 N during this event, and he told us switching to 100 per cent rear-wheel drive is almost 100 per cent. However, if the car thinks you’re in trouble and sliding too far, it will send just a little bit of torque to the front axle.

There’s also three different sound modes to select from, including Ignition which emits a similar sound to an i30 N. Another mode called Evolution produces more of a racing car simulator sound, and then Supersonic is a futuristic note.

Drivers will also be able to utilise the ‘Torque Kick Drift’ function. This works a bit like popping the clutch, or kicking the clutch in a combustion vehicle during acceleration to startle traction loss – for initiating a drift. It’s available in certain drive modes and by pulling both paddle shifters at the same time.

Speaking with the engineer, we learned the system communicates with the throttle to determine how much ‘kick’ is provided. For example, if you have 20 per cent throttle down it will respond just like you’ve kicked the clutch in a petrol vehicle with circa-450kW and with 20 per cent throttle.

Likewise, ‘pop’ the paddles with 100 per cent throttle and be prepared for some snappy side-window driving.

This is all very interesting for an electric vehicle, and it certainly sets new standards for its class in terms of driver engagement. Will these software-based features be enough to win across old-school ICE-vehicle driving enthusiasts? Time will tell.

As a reminder, Hyundai Australia is launching a 12-hour online pre-sale event for the IONIQ5 N, with prices starting from $111,000 (excluding on-roads). Hyundai Australia has told us there is no specific limit set on how many vehicles will be up for grabs, however, those looking to buy a few for reselling purposes are likely to be cut off. Local deliveries are, at this point, scheduled to commence during the first quarter of 2024.

Images courtesy of Hyundai N Australia Facebook page

Brett Davis

Brett started out as a motor mechanic, but eventually became frustrated working on cars that weren't his. He then earned a degree in journalism and scored a job at Top Gear Australia back in 2008, and then worked at Zoom/Extreme Performance magazines, CarAdvice, and started PerformanceDrive/PDriveTV in 2011 with Josh Bennis, and ran it for 12 years. He's now the owner and managing editor here at Driving Enthusiast.

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