2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Makes E-Shift Feel Real

Electric, but make it 'ICE’

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N successfully brings ICE shifting feel to the normally smooth EV drivetrain. (Hyundai)

Albert Biermann, the über-engineer tapped to lead Hyundai Motor Group’s R&D and vehicle development, officially retired in 2021. But the fingerprints of the longtime chief engineer of BMW’s fabled M performance division are all over a run of acclaimed models from Hyundai, Kia and the Genesis luxury brand.

“Hyundai says the Ioniq 5 N takes 3.25 seconds to hit 60 mph (96 km/h), but I suspect it’s closer to three seconds flat.” (Hyundai)

The electric 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N is the latest with a seemingly magic touch. Literally, in the case of a world-first transmission that simulates the shifts, revs and sounds of an eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox and ICE engine. Yet this paddle-shfted “N e-Shift” is an entirely digital overlay, that disguises a familiar single-speed EV transmission.

One downside to the Ioniq 5 N is the overwhelming amount of setting choices. (Hyundai)

N e-Shift is the nerve center for a 641-hp crossover that’s designed to rock on racetracks for about 20 minutes, recharge in 18 minutes, and do it over again. Engineers from Hyundai’s N Division logged more than 6,200 brutal development miles (9,978 km) at Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, 12.9 miles (21 km) at a time. Other tech was derived from Hyundai’s World Rally Championship cars. The ultimate goal was not to merely set track records for production electric SUVs, but to make the Ioniq 5 N as fun and engaging as an old-school ICE car.

The 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N uses the “N Grin Boost” button to temporarily raise hp output from 601 to 641 for 10 seconds. Torque rises from 545 lb ft (739 Nm) to 568 (770 Nm). (Hyundai)

SAE Media was invited to Weathertech Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Hyundai’s first bit of mischief after the track’s stomach-flipping Corkscrew: a Formula 1-style push-to-pass button (called “N Grin Boost”) lifts hp from 601 to 641 for 10-second bursts. Torque rises from 545 lb ft (739 Nm) to 568 (770 Nm). Hyundai says the Ioniq 5 N takes 3.25 seconds to hit 60 mph (96 km/h), but we suspect it’s closer to three seconds flat. Top speed is 162 mph (261 km/h). The Hyundai may be chunky, with a 4,861-pound (2,205 kg) curb weight, but it’s a hoot to drive.

Dual electric motors are fed by a battery pack whose higher-density NCM cells boost capacity from 77.4 to 84 kWh, versus a standard Ioniq 5. Sitting in pit lane, we dialed up an Endurance mode that optimizes battery temperatures for longer track stints. A Sprint mode maximizes power for all-out time attacks.

A two-stage inverter is another key, boosting performance and efficiency while keeping temperatures in check. Like conventional inverters, this unit converts DC battery current to AC juice to drive the electric motors. Here, a second stage boosts current, rather than voltage, before it reaches the motors. That amplifies motor output and reduces energy losses during conversion.

“N e-Shift” is an entirely digital overlay that disguises a familiar single-speed EV transmission. (Hyundai)

Lavish upgrades boost this charming, ‘80s-adjacent tall hatchback to serious track spec. Battery and motor cooling are improved with a more-robust chiller, as well as low-temp and high-temp radiators. A gaping grille and active air flaps boost airflow or trim drag. A 10% stiffer chassis adds 42 more welding points and 6.9 feet (2.1 m) of added structural adhesives. Springs, bushings and three-position electronic dampers are retuned. Integrated drive axles are strengthened to handle massive horsepower and torque.

The chassis and driver’s seat are lowered, and a two-inch (51 mm) wider body makes room for 21-inch (533 mm) forged alloy wheels. Pirelli designed its P Zero Elect compound and tread exclusively for this rally-style SUV. A reworked grille and nosepiece inhale more cooling air, with active front air flaps and a rear diffuser. Drivers nestle into burly sport seats, with a fixed center console (with kneepads for support in fast corners) replacing the flat open floor of a standard Ioniq 5. A strengthened electric steering rack gets a faster ratio and pleasing weight, though road feedback still can’t match the best ICE cars.

N e-Shift goes ‘Supersonic’

The motor bay of the 2025 Hyundai Ioniq 5 N, which has a top speed of 162 mph (261 km/h). (Hyundai)

The N e-Shift is the Ioniq 5 N’s technical calling card. In Laguna Seca’s pits, a tachometer needle on the driver’s display jiggles as the Hyundai “idles”. That’s set to the tune of the N division’s four-cylinder engine, played through 10 internal and eight external speakers. Users can choose other powertrain sounds, including a “Supersonic” inspired by twin-engine fighter jets.

As we chased 11-time Pikes Peak winner Paul Dallenbach around the hilly circuit, the tach soars to a simulated 8,000 rpm — despite electric motors that actually spin up to 21,000 rpm.

The transmission bumps against a rev limiter when I shift too late, just like in an ICE car. Select too high a gear, and the powertrain lugs. A Drift mode can simulate the “clutch kick” of a stick-shift car to initiate rotation.

And it’s all done entirely with software that adjusts electric-motor torque during shift events. Each paddled shift elicits a surprisingly natural torque interruption, including rev-matched downshifts accompanied by aural feedback. Jun Mo Lee, manager of chassis and thermal performance for Hyundai America, said the development of dual-clutch gearboxes in cars like the Elantra N guided targets for shift feel. Precisely syncing shifts to powertrain sound and tach-needle movements was crucial.

Compared to a single-speed transmission, the eight spaced “gears” allow separate torque zones and acceleration for each, as with an ICE car. Matching those gears to digitized sound gives drivers more-intuitive feedback on how fast they’re moving or taking corners. After sampling the system’s convincing mimicry, we expect other performance EV makers to build versions themselves.

Despite the more energy-dense battery, Hyundai says the N version charges as quickly as a standard Ioniq 5, from 10-to-80% in 18 minutes on a 350-kW charger. Both models share the slick 800-volt e-GMP platform, and its maximum 238-kW charging pace. The N model’s focus on speed and handling does take a toll on the driving range, at 221 miles (356 km), compared with up to 260 miles (418 km) for Ioniq 5 AWD models.

Hyundai further claims a class-high for regenerative braking force with up to 0.6 g’s of deceleration. That saves overheating and wear-and-tear on mechanical brakes. Those brakes are Hyundai’s beefiest yet, with four-piston front calipers and 15.8-inch (401 mm) rotors. Fans of left-foot braking can also apply the brake and accelerator simultaneously, without the system cutting power to motors.

The Hyundai’s performance is cinematic, but it flunks one screen test: A 12.3-inch (312 mm) center touchscreen offers too many performance choices, including settings for motors, steering, brakes, sound, stability control, transmission, battery and electronic limited-slip differential. A pair of steering-wheel “N” buttons offer some relief by saving preset selections. But the confusing, overwrought screens can get in the way of driving.

On the upside, this hot-rod Hyundai remains practical enough for families, with five seats and generous cargo space. A $67,475 base price swamps the $50,725 cost of the most-affordable Ioniq 5 SE with AWD. But the forthcoming Porsche Macan Turbo EV costs nearly $40,000 more to start, at $106,950, with 630 hp. A Macan 4 EV starts from $80,450, but with 402 hp to 641 for the Ioniq 5 N. On top of knockout performance numbers, this Hyundai puts up defensible numbers for value.