Review: Hyundai Ioniq 5 Max in Malaysia - Can it compete with the Tesla Model Y?
Shaun · Nov 9, 2023 05:49 PM
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 was one of the early entrants in the Malaysian EV market. When it was launched early last year, there were no competitors in its price range that possessed a dedicated EV platform.
While its rivals, like the Mercedes-Benz EQA and Volvo XC40 EV, have a more prestigious badge on the bonnet, they are built on combustion engine platforms, which ultimately result in compromised packaging.
The Ioniq 5, on the other hand, with its Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), was purposefully designed as an EV from the ground up. In that sense, it had an upper hand.
Overview: Hyundai Ioniq 5 Max
RM 270,408 (OTR without insurance)
11 kW AC, ~230 kW DC, CCS2
Up to 430 km (WTLP)
5.2 seconds (as tested)
Now though, there are several more options available, and more significantly, Tesla, the poster child of EVs, has made its debut in Malaysia. Tesla's introduction has been a much-discussed topic in recent months, with fanatics that just couldn’t stop waxing lyrical and has annoyed social media users to no end.
The question now is: Does the Tesla Model Y outperform all its closest competitors in its price range, or does the Hyundai Ioniq 5 have something unique to offer? In this review, we will explore this question.
Exterior – One of the best looking EVs on sale
The first thing that catches your eye when you see the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is its striking design. It has the vibe of ‘80s hatchbacks, with an unmistakable retro vibe that sets it apart from the current crop of EVs.
The design cleverly blends elements of the past with futuristic aesthetics, making it a true head-turner on the road. It has a clean and minimalist front design with straight lines and I just adore the pixel graphics on the headlights and taillights.
While the Ioniq 5 may look compact in photos, it surprises you with its actual size. It’s a full SUV instead of a hatchback, similar in size to a Mercedes-Benz GLC. This is because it has the proportions of a traditional hatchback with its short overhangs, but scaled up by 25 percent.
Its wheelbase is a massive 3,000 mm and that certainly affects the way it drives and rides, but more on that later. The overall proportions have shrunk even the 20-inch wheels, making it look average from afar. It’s only when you get up close that you realise everything seems enlarged.
Interior – Airy and thoughtfully designed
Step inside, and the Ioniq 5 continues to impress. Its interior design focuses on maximising passenger space while providing a comfortable and practical driving experience.
It feels airy and there’s no barrier or partition between the front passengers, with a sliding centre console for increased versatility. Build quality is faultless and the quality of some materials, despite being recycled, doesn’t feel cheap.
The instrument cluster is clear and provides essential information without being cluttered. Next to it, the infotainment system mirrors the simplicity found in other Hyundai models, devoid of unnecessary layers for users to navigate.
But this simplicity also means that it’s an offline system, which doesn’t get over-the-air (OTA) updates, and there’s no app for owners to remotely access vehicle status information such as battery level or climate control settings.
Another niggle I have is the need to access the touchscreen for activating the ventilated/heated seat function. For a feature used frequently, especially in our warm climate, it should have a dedicated button.
At the rear, kneeroom is aplenty with 3 tennis balls worth for a 177 cm tall individual such as yours truly. Headroom is decent, with just over 1 tennis ball between the headliner. The ability to recline and slide backwards or forwards continues the theme of versatility.
Boot space is rated at 527 litres, which is decent, and there’s a front trunk or frunk storage of 57 litres. It’s on the smaller side but hey, at least there’s something. The Model Y’s 117-litre frunk is a more usable storage solution.
Driving Experience: Balance is key
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 has no sporty intentions. Its focus is on providing a smooth and comfortable ride for everyday use. The Ioniq 5's steering is light, making it effortless to manoeuvre around town at low speeds, but not too light that it feels unwieldy at higher speeds.
Body control leaves something to be desired and that’s largely due to its weight at over two tonnes. Around the bends, body lean is rather noticeable and mid-corner bumps put the suspension to the test as it manages the car’s mass.
The balance doesn’t get upset, but you can feel that the suspension is always working overtime to maintain stability. In that sense, it still manages its weight skilfully, providing a stable and predictable handling, partly due to the long wheelbase, which does make it feel and behave like a much larger car.
Another thing is that this car could play tricks with your mind around tight spaces. Although it offers good visibility and the exterior dimensions isn’t too intimidating, the 3-metre wheelbase can lead to kerbed wheels if you’re not careful. So the advice is to drive it like a pickup truck in those places.
As with many EVs, acceleration is silent and instantaneous, no surprises there. The brakes are among the better calibrated regenerative systems, with predictable response across the pedal travel and doesn’t require too much of an adjustment time.
But what I really like about the whole driving experience is how intuitive everything is. From the way the chassis responds to your steering input, to the ergonomics and where all the controls are placed.
Unlike the Tesla Model Y, there’s minimal learning curve in operating the Ioniq 5. The only aspect that took me a little time to become accustomed to was the gear selector stalk, but once I got the hang of it, instinctively choosing the direction to twist for selecting drive or reverse became second nature.
Ride Comfort: Generally soothing
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 offers a generally comfortable ride. Its ride quality is only marred by the way it handles secondary ride experiences on uneven or rough surfaces. While it doesn't transmit harsh jolts into the cabin, there's a persistent sensation of the suspension maintaining a somewhat unsettled or "nuggety" feel.
This changes when you take it onto the highway, where the ride becomes noticeably smoother. The damping is set on the softer side, allowing the car to gracefully waft over undulations and slow down body movements. Some might prefer a firmer setup that quickly deals with bumps, but personally, I find the more relaxed configuration to be quite appealing.
In terms of seat comfort, I found the front seats to be slightly aggressive on lumbar support, even at the lowest settings, though lateral and thigh support are decent. Another observation is that the headrest protrudes more than I’d like, giving a somewhat hunched feeling.
But this proves to be beneficial when the relaxation mode is used. In this mode, the headrest becomes a makeshift pillow as the seatback reclines to what Hyundai claims is the optimal angle, and the leg rest elevates. Essentially, it transforms the car seat into a recliner chair.
At the rear, there’s still a sense of a high floor as with most EVs, which compromises thigh support and ultimately creates a slightly crouched-like seating position. But compared to its siblings riding on the E-GMP like the Kia EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 6, this is the best of the lot, thanks to the more SUV-like body shape.
When it comes to cabin insulation, the Ioniq 5 does an impressive job of isolating its passengers from various sources of noise. There is minimal tire and wind noise, regardless of the driving speed, and external sounds are kept at a hushed level.
Hyundai Ioniq 5 - Cabin noise level
After clocking a 104 km trip in mixed conditions with an average speed of 36 km/h, the trip computer indicated an average energy consumption of 17.5 kWh/100 km.
Our calculations revealed the actual efficiency at 19.2 kWh/100 km based on energy delivered after two consecutive charges to 80 percent.
To answer the earlier question about whether the Hyundai Ioniq 5 offers something unique compared to the Tesla Model Y, the short answer is yes. For one, it looks infinitely more desirable from the outside, and two, it’s a superbly thought-out package.
The Ioniq 5 doesn’t require you to relearn how to operate a car. You won't need to familiarise yourself with the vehicle functions; everything is intuitively placed right where you'd expect it to be. There's no need to delve into the glovebox, frunk, or navigate menus on the touchscreen to make simple adjustments like mirror settings.
At the same time, it’s not built on an internal combustion engine platform that compromises packaging. The absence of a centre tunnel creates a spacious, lounge-like cabin with a high degree of flexibility. It also offers a frunk for extra storage space.
Drawbacks include the absence of OTA updates, rendering the system offline, and the lack of an app to connect with the vehicle. It also falls short of competing with Tesla's forthcoming network of Superchargers in Malaysia and its associated convenience.
Perhaps, the Ioniq 5’s strength lies in its balance between conventional and futuristic elements. It manages to cater to traditional car users without alienating them, while also staying true to its identity as an EV. For those transitioning from combustion engine cars, the Ioniq 5 could prove to be a more fitting choice.
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