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The Hyundai IONIQ 5 doesn’t seem like a likely competitor to the Golf GTI or Golf R at first. But the automotive world is changing in a hurry, and cars are getting bigger than ever. With the ultra-hot IONIQ 5 N on the way, it’s time to think about what the future of hot hatchbacks will look like. And is the IONIQ 5 a hatchback or crossover to start with?

By the numbers the Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a big hatchback

Overlay of the IONIQ 5 and Golf R Hatchback
Overlay of the IONIQ 5 (Silver) and Golf R (Blue) | Marc Wiley, MotorBiscuit

Understanding what defines a hatchback or crossover isn’t easy in 2023. But comparing the Hyundai IONIQ 5 to the Golf R and Mazda CX-30 SUV shows that the Hyundai EV is more hatchback than crossover. To start with, it’s 6.1 inches of ground clearance is more akin to a modern hatchback. The sporty Golf R, for its part, has 4.7 inches of ride height. Meanwhile, the compact Mazda CX-30 SUV is eight inches off the ground. That said, the IONIQ 5 is both longer and wider than the Golf R and the Mazda crossover. All told, though, ride height says more about a car’s intended purpose than its overall size, and in that regard the IONIQ 5 leans hatchback, even with its larger proportions.

The N Performance version leans hard into hot hatch territory

A gray 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 hatchback
The 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 | Hyundai

Then we come to the upcoming Hyundai IONIQ 5 N. This is Hyundai’s next-generation performance EV, and so far it looks like it’s ready to deliver. Firstly, the N chucks out 641 all-electric horsepower, making it twice as punchy as the fastest current IONIQ 5 model. Furthermore, a new braking system includes 15.8-inch front and 14.2-inch rear brake rotors for track-ready stopping power. And with a 0.8-inch lower ride height, the IONIQ 5 N now sits just 5.3 inches off the road.

All told, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N has all the makings of a next-generation hot hatch, even with a massive wheelbase and track. Those features, to be fair, give the IONIQ 5 nimble handling. With the wheels pushed toward the corners of the chassis, there is a sense of corner-carving control even in this 5,000-pound all-electric behemoth.

N Torque Distribution adds to the handling chops of the IONIQ 5 N

We have yet to experience the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N, but Hyundai is certainly pulling out all the stops to indicate that this is a serious performance E. N Torque Distribution optimizes power delivery at all four corners to enhance both cornering capability and traction. And with an N Drift Optimizer, the Hyundai performance EV aims to make us all look like heroes when it’s time to throw it sideways. There are even knee pads and seat bolsters like you get in modern track cars – all touches aimed at delivering a high-performance driving experience that isn’t just for show.

Weight may still hold the IONIQ 5 back from being a true hatchback

A gray 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 small electric SUV is parked.
The 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 5 | Hyundai

For the most part, the IONIQ 5 does offer a genuine hatchback experience, even with its considerable size. But how it manages its 4,300-pound curb weight will ultimately decide if the IONIQ 5 N is a true hot hatchback or simply a quick crossover. The base IONIQ 5 is a great start, but like the vanilla Toyota Corolla Hatchback, is more about comfort than handling. If Hyundai’s N Performance team can make this thing dance, the future of hot hatches may not look so bad after all.

Related The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Is an Instant Torque Rocket Thanks to 1 Feature

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 N Is an Instant Torque Rocket Thanks to 1 Feature