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We pit new AWD electric models from Hyundai and Polestar against each other

21 Feb 2022



THE times they are a-changin’… and, in it this case, it’s no longer just Bob Dylan who has gone electric. Look through any automotive showroom – or browse these pages for a few minutes – and you’ll see that almost every vehicle manufacturer now has at least some kind of electrified model (hybrid or plug-in hybrid) in its range, while several of them offer battery-electric vehicles. 


Perhaps Dylan should have sung the times they are a-chargin’…


And this isn’t just some fad on which we’re all a-jumpin’. The electric age is now well and truly upon us. With many nations already committing to ban combustion engines entirely by the end of the decade, vehicle manufacturers have moved fast to ensure they’ll be ready to meet the deadline – and it’s Hyundai and Volvo’s sub-brand, Polestar, who’ve moved faster than most.


In this test, we’ll look at the recently launched Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Polestar 2 side by side. With comparable pricing and performance attributes, the two are separated only by their unique body styling, a handful of centimetres, and driving experience. In most respects, this is a very close comparison.



Price & Performance


Beginning with the South Korean built – and somewhat larger – Hyundai IONIQ 5, we find a higher list price for both entry-grade two-wheel-drive (from $71,900, plus on-road costs) and all-wheel-drive dual-motor variants (from $75,900 +ORCs) compared with the Polestar 2 range.


Both versions of the IONIQ 5 rely on a 72.6kWh lithium-ion battery pack, with single-motor variants outputting 160kW/350Nm (-5kW/+20Nm) and dual-motor variants 225kW/605Nm (-75kW/-55Nm). 


The entry-level Hyundai matches the 0-100km/h time of the Polestar at 7.4 seconds, while the dual-motor IONIQ 5 clocks triple digits in 5.2 seconds – 0.5 seconds slower than the Polestar 2. Both IONIQ 5 derivatives have a listed top speed of 185km/h, while the optimal driving range for the pair is listed at 451km and 430km (for the two,- and all-wheel drive variants, respectively).


Meanwhile, the Chinese-made Polestar 2 “fastback” starts from $59,900 (+ORCs), which undercuts the IONIQ 5 considerably… at least at first glance. If you match the BEVs’ specs by optioning equivalent safety technology and higher-capacity battery on the two-wheel-drive version of the Swedish contender, and that gap closes to just $2000.


Available in three versions, the Polestar 2 competes more closely with the Hyundai Kona Electric (from $54,500 +ORCs), Nissan LEAF+ (from $60,490 +ORCs), and Tesla Model 3 (from $59,900 +ORCs) on price, but is a better match in terms of size and specification with the IONIQ 5.


Both the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Polestar 2 are backed by a five-year warranty and roadside assistance plan. Hyundai offers capped-price servicing for five years, while Polestar offers complimentary servicing for five years or 100,000km (whichever comes first, see below for more details).


In its entry form, the Polestar 2 is powered by a 64kWh lithium-ion battery pack, develops 165kW/330Nm, and is said to have a driving range of up to 440km. Its stated 0-100km/h acceleration time is 7.4 seconds and its quoted top speed is 160km/h.


A long-range version of the single-motor Polestar 2 is also available and is priced from $64,990 (+ORCs). It comes with a larger (78kWh) battery and offers a driving range of up to 540km.


The single-motor Polestar 2 also qualifies for a $3000 rebate in Victoria and New South Wales – something which does not currently apply to Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 – but the next-step-up dual-motor variant does not (on account of its asking price).


The flagship Polestar 2 (from $69,900 +ORCs) features the same 78kWh battery pack as the Long Range Single Motor variant, but adds a second motor on the rear axle to avail all-paw grip, as welkl as healthy outputs of 300kW and 660Nm. Zero to 100km/h is dispatched in 4.7 seconds on the way to a top speed of 200km/h. Its driving range is listed at 480km.


Packaging & Equipment


Whereas the Hyundai IONIQ 5 might be a dearer proposition than the Polestar 2, the match-up is rather close in terms of packaging and equipment. Both models offer seating for five with much the same interior space as one another, although the IOINIQ 5 has the larger load bay of the pair at 560 litres (versus 405 litres) by virtue of its large, SUV-like body design.


The IONIQ 5 features adjacent 12.3-inch instrument and infotainment arrays, the latter including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, native satellite navigation and an eight-speaker BOSE premium audio system with DAB+ digital radio reception.


Other standard equipment highlights include 20-inch alloy wheels, LED head- and tail-lights, leather upholstery, retractable door handles, a powered tailgate, 12-way power adjustable front seats with heating and ventilation, a heated two-way power-adjustable second row, position memory function for all seats, dual-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel, and adjustable ambient lighting.


In camp Polestar, we find all three versions of the Polestar 2 share the same trim level and standard equipment list. 


Highlights include 19-inch alloy wheels, an Android-based 11.2-inch infotainment system, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, “vegan” upholstery, keyless entry, adaptive LED headlights, cruise control and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.


A trio of option packs are available for the Polestar 2, including the Pilot Pack ($5000), Plus Pack ($6000) and Performance Pack ($8000). Leather upholstery is an extra-cost option ($6000), as is metallic paint ($1400) and 20-inch alloy wheels ($1400).


The only option available on the IONIQ 5, meanwhile, is matte paint at $1000.


Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 features seven airbags, but the Polestar 2 has eight (adding a centre airbag between front seat passengers). Otherwise, the models’ safety specifications are evenly matched. 


Collision avoidance and mitigation with vehicle-, cyclist- and pedestrian detection are offered on both contenders, as is forward-collision warning, lane assist, tyre-pressure monitoring, a reversing camera, road-sign recognition and ISOFIX and top-tether child seat anchorages.


The Hyundai further features a 360-degree camera, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beam, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep and -departure assistance, and rear cross-traffic alert. Those features are optionally available on the Polestar 2 as part of the brand’s Pilot Pack ($5000).


The Hyundai IONIQ 5 scored a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2021. The Polestar 2 has not yet been tested by ANCAP, but it did receive full marks (five stars) in EuroNCAP testing last year.


Against the tape, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 is considerably longer ­–­ it measures 4635mm versus the Polestar 2’s 4060mm. The cars’ widths are listed at 1890mm and 1891mm, and their heights at 1605mm and 1477mm, respectively. 


The IONIQ 5 rides on a longer wheelbase (3000mm) than the Polestar 2 (2735mm), while the Hyundai is the lighter of the pair at 2100kg (versus 2117kg for the Polestar).


In base form, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 offers a braked towing capacity of 1600kg compared with the Polestar 2’s 1500kg.


On the road


Although the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and Polestar 2 offer comparable ride quality and cornering tenacity, the contenders appear, um, poles apart when you drive them back-to-back, however.


The IONIQ 5’s intriguing blend of quietness, pedal response and sharp steering set it apart. Cabin noise – mostly tyre roar – is distinctly quieter than in the Polestar. The crisp action of the primary controls (steering and pedals) give the Hyundai a sportier feel than one might expect from a crossover.


Sure, it’s a little top-heavy compared with the Polestar 2; it feels weightier when tasked to corner at enthusiastic speeds, but the H-TRAC all-wheel-drive system makes up for some of the deficit; the front-biased torque split propels the IONIQ 5 through bends as if it’s a well-heeled hot hatch.


The Polestar 2 is markedly different. The all-wheel-drive system distributes torque front-to-rear so effectively that the driver doesn’t need to pop brave pills before steering into tight bends with vigour. Unfortunately, the steering feel falls marginally behind that of the IONIQ 5… Mid-corner bumps and corrugations can induce a fair amount of rack rattle, which saps a driver’s confidence.


But the Polestar has other strengths that driving enthusiasts are bound to appreciate. The Swedish offering accelerates harder – noticeably harder – than the Hyundai and that applies to all speeds, which means it can execute overtaking manoeuvres with more aplomb. 


It’s also a better-stopping vehicle than the IONIQ 5. Massive cross-drilled rotors and powerful Brembo calipers endow the Polestar 2 with immense stopping power and wonderfully well-metered pedal modulation.


During daily duties, however, the BEVs’ roles almost switch again. The human machine interface (HMI) in the Hyundai is easier to operate on the go and less fiddly in terms of its menu layout. The hard buttons are also easier to comprehend; they feel more like those of a “traditional” car, and the touchscreen functions seem less laggy than in Volvo’s electric model.


Conversely, we preferred the layout and presentation of the digital instrument panel in the Polestar over the Hyundai’s. The crisp graphics and impressive (yet easy to read) detail available in the Swedish-cum-Chinese model make the experience behind the ‘wheel very premium.


Harder to appreciate, however, is the Polestar’s climate control/thermal properties of its cabin. The large glass roof – which does not open and has no sun blind – makes the cabin temperature incredibly difficult to regulate. Even a moderately warm day (it was 27ºC and overcast on the day of testing) the climate control system struggled to maintain a comfortable in-car climate. 


The Polestar 2 also omits ventilated seats, which are a welcome feature in the IONIQ 5.


On the flipside, and when driven over an identical course, the Polestar did manage to pip the Hyundai as far as power consumption was concerned – if only just. During the test, the Polestar 2 Long Range AWD used 20.9kWh per 100 kilometres against the Hyundai IONIQ 5 AWD’s 21.2kWh/100km – a very close call indeed.




It was very difficult to pick a winner in this comparison. Not only are the vehicles pitched at  different audiences, they also have pros and cons that are likely to suit quite disparate buyers.


For those looking to maximise their electric-vehicle value for money, you could say the keener-priced Polestar 2 is a clear winner. But if you start adding options to the standard package, that all goes out the window, moving the Hyundai ahead of the game.


Then again, the Polestar claws back points for its more planted all-wheel-drive system and energetic, efficient driveline – only to lose ground again where its HMI and climate-control capabilities are concerned. Swings and roundabouts indeed.


On balance, however, we think the Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a more rounded offering – but only just. Not only is the vehicle more liveable and better equipped in standard form, but it also deals better with rough Australian roads… and, as we found, the harsh Australian climate. 


In this head-to-head comparison, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 is our winner by the narrowest of margins. 


Pricing and specifications (as tested):

  Hyundai IONIQ 5 AWD Polestar 2 L/R AWD
Price $75,900 $69,900
Battery Capacity 72.6kWh 78.0kWh
Output 225kW/605Nm 300kW/660Nm
Transmission Reduction Type Reduction Type
Driven Wheels All All
0-100km/h 5.2 seconds 4.7 seconds
Top Speed 185km/h 200km/h
Driving Range 430km (claimed) 480km (claimed)
Power Usage 21.2kWh (as tested) 20.9kWh (as tested)
Safety Rating Five-star (ANCAP) Five-star (EuroNCAP)


Dimensions and data (as tested):

  Hyundai IONIQ 5 AWD Polestar 2 L/R AWD
Length 4635mm 4606mm
Width 1890mm 1891mm
Height 1605mm 1477mm
Wheelbase 3000mm 2735mm
Weight 2100kg (tare) 2117kg (tare)
Turning Circle 12.0m 11.5m
Wheels 20 x 8.5-inch 19 x 8.0-inch
Tyres 255/45 R20 245/45 R19
Cargo Capacity 560 litres 405 litres
Braked Towing Capacity 1600kg 1500kg
Seating Capacity 5 5


Aftersales support (as tested):

  Hyundai IONIQ 5 AWD Polestar 2 L/R AWD
Warranty Five years/unlimited km Five years/unlimited km
Roadside Assistance Five years/unlimited km Five years/unlimited km
Service Pricing (5yr) $1684 Complimentary
Service Intervals 12 months/15,000km 24 months/30,000km
Battery Warranty Eight years/160,000km Eight years/160,000km

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4th of November 2021

Polestar 2

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