Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 N: Electric Car Innovation Meets Performance and Sound Engineering

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Hyundai's Ioniq 5 N: Electric Car Innovation Meets Performance and Sound Engineering

As I approach the black Hyundai Ioniq 5 in the parking lot, there’s a faint hum of the motor. That’s surprising because the Ioniq 5 is available solely as an electric car. To verify, I glance under the rear. No exhaust pipes there. But upon opening the driver’s door, the sound of a powerful engine becomes even clearer.

“We are Hyundai’s wild side,” Till Wartenberg, Vice President of the Motorsport Division and the Performance brand N, declares. Since 2015, the Korean automaker has been offering higher horsepower versions of its production vehicles under the N-Series. The letter ‘N’ signifies the development center in Namyang, Korea.

However, German Hyundai employees jokingly claim the letter stands for Nürburgring. Hyundai also operates a testing center there, which is soon to undergo expansion. This holds true for the development center in Rüsselsheim, currently employing 400 staff members.

“Proudly, the prototype of the Ioniq 5 N was developed here, not in Korea,” Tyrone Johnson, Director of Vehicle Development at the Rüsselsheim center, reports. According to him, an N version must fulfill three criteria: track suitability, a sports car for daily use, and being a ‘Corner Rascal,’ translating to a car that’s agile in corners.

N models represent around five percent of all Hyundai vehicle registrations in Germany. The typical buyer is male, aged between 17 and 35. With the Ioniq 5 N, the focus shifts towards slightly older male buyers, potentially with families. The 5 N aims to be both a family car with a child seat in the back and a sports car that turns heads on the weekend racetrack.

Ten speakers

The version I take out for a spin around the Rüsselsheim development center premises, onto public roads, remains a prototype. The N-Version is set to hit the market in early 2024. The engine sound, audible from the outside, is facilitated by a speaker located under the front hood.

Consequently, storage space is compromised in the Ioniq 5 N. A second exterior speaker for exhaust sounds sits at the rear, both transmitting vibrations to the bodywork. Inside, eight additional speakers create the ambiance of a spirited combustion engine. I can select among sound profiles: Ignition, Evolution, and Supersonic.

I commence my test drive with Ignition. The idling turns into a growl when accelerating. I distinctly hear pops from the exhaust system, the engine revving faster with acceleration. Instinctively, I shift gears using the right paddle on the steering wheel, not needing to glance at the RPM gauge. My ears guide the shift points.

“Noises are information while driving,” Wartenberg remarks. The self-professed Petrol Head missed an auditory response in electric cars until now. “They do a lot automatically. Sometimes, I feel queasy because I don’t know what the car is doing,” he remarks.

Increasing pitch

Should I not shift gears, the engine noise ascends in pitch. The RPM gauge turns red at 8,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). Of course, this is all for show. The two permanent magnet motors on the axles can effortlessly rev up to 21,000 RPM.

It’s about capturing that classic car feel. With each gear change, I sense a fraction-of-a-second interruption in power transmission to the wheels. Therefore, the adaptation for the N-Version encompasses more than just speakers and sound modules. It’s a comprehensive package engineered by Hyundai for the N-Version.

“Compared to the standard version, the body has 40 additional welding points,” Johnson notes. More welding points between two components create a stiffer body. The brake discs have a larger diameter, and the regenerative braking operates up to 0.6 g during deceleration.

In traditional electric cars, it functions only up to 0.3 g before the hydraulic braking system kicks in. “With regenerative braking, we needed the car to pitch forward more during braking, putting weight on the front wheels,” Tyrone explains. This eases cornering and steering.

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Ronald Peart
As an AI and machine learning aficionado, Ronald Peart unravels the complexities of artificial intelligence, offering comprehensive insights and updates on the tech landscape.