Lightning strikes three times – EV takes New Zealand Car of the Year three years in a row

The all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 has claimed the 2021 New Zealand Car of the Year title, the third EV in a row to claim the prestigious award.

The IONIQ 5 is also the first winner of the award to be available under the government’s ‘Clean Car’ scheme, with its entry-level variant eligible for an $8,650 rebate.

The IONIQ 5 is the first Hyundai built on a new, fully dedicated electric platform, and features technology that allows for a range of up to 500km for premium variants and high-speed charging able to add 85km of range in just five minutes on the new generation of hyperchargers. It’s also a powerful and brisk performer, with the flagship variant’s dual-motor electric system mustering 225kW of power and 605Nm of torque, which in turn delivers a 0-100kph sprint time of just 5.22 seconds.

Previous all-electric winners of the award were the Mercedes-Benz EQC in 2020 and the Jaguar I-Pace in 2019.

The New Zealand Car of the Year is selected by members of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, the professional body for motoring journalists and content creators from around the country. The Guild’s two-dozen voting members test the vehicles in their home environment – important for providing a ‘real world’ result.

New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild president Richard Edwards notes the IONIQ 5 is a game-changing vehicle.

“The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is very deserving of the New Zealand Car of the Year.”

“It is truly mould-breaking, without sacrificing efficiency, practicality or attractiveness. It is an all-round intriguing car even before you consider its exceptional all-electric drivetrain.”

Guild Secretary and DriveLife journalist, Fred Alvrez, lauded the car for its ‘clean sheet’ approach.

“The IONIQ 5 goes to show what a car manufacturer can do when they start with a clean sheet and create a car that’s an EV from the ground up. It drives brilliantly.”

David Thomson, motoring editor of the Otago Daily Times, notes the IONIQ 5’s green credentials go beyond its electric drivetrain.

“It’s easy to overlook its wider contribution to a more sustainable motoring future, most notably in the use of eco-friendly materials. These include bio-paints, the use of recycled plastics in the seat material, and by-products from sugar cane production for the roof headliner, carpet and seats.”

For locally-owned Hyundai New Zealand, the 2021 award is the first time it has claimed the New Zealand Car of the Year title. It is also the first time a Korean vehicle has claimed the trophy, which is named in honour of founding Guild member, Peter Greenslade.

“IONIQ 5 receiving this award in such a highly competitive environment is immensely rewarding”, says Hyundai New Zealand General Manager, Chris Blair.

“The IONIQ 5 eco-friendly interior, coupled with zero emissions, demonstrates Hyundai’s commitment towards leading the way in sustainable motoring”

“This model represents the new era of electric vehicles for our brand. It’s the first model to be released under the IONIQ brand line-up, and so if this announcement is anything to go by then we’re in for a real treat when IONIQ 6 and 7 reaches our shores.”

The prestigious award, now in its 33rd year, was announced live on Seven Sharp by presenters Hilary Barry and Jeremy Wells.

Candidates for the 2021 award, in alphabetical order, were:

  • Audi e-tron GT
  • Ford Escape
  • Hyundai IONIQ 5
  • Kia Sorento
  • Mazda MX-30
  • Mercedes-Benz EQA
  • Peugeot 208
  • Skoda Octavia
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Toyota GR Yaris

Guild members assess the finalists on a specified range of criteria spanning how the vehicle performs its intended role; its styling, interior design and accommodation; fit, finish and quality; ride and refinement; performance; road-holding and handling; value for money; active and passive safety and environmental responsibility.

Hyundai New Zealand General Manager, Chris Blair (left) and NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild President, Richard Edwards