SINGAPORE – The Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric crossover has been crowned Straits Times Car of the Year 2023 – the first Hyundai to win the coveted title and the second South Korean model since the Kia Stinger received the honours in 2018.
The fact that the Ioniq 5 is the first car in four decades to be assembled in Singapore has nothing to do with it being picked. As always, contenders are put through a rigorous judging process and scoring matrix.
Only all-new models launched by authorised agents in the 12 months between mid-November 2022 and mid-November 2023 were considered. Around 40 cars were rounded up, with nine contenders making the final cut.
A panel of 12 judges with a combined road-testing experience of 250 years sat through three rounds of deliberations before arriving at a shortlist. The finalists were then put through a point-based voting system which gauged nine crucial attributes of each car.
Like in 2022, the categories of practicality and value for money have a higher weightage than the other seven attributes, namely performance, handling, ride quality, build quality, efficiency, styling and X-factor (an intangible quality which sets a car apart).
But unlike last year, the 2023 victor is a clear winner with 399 points – 40.5 points ahead of the runner-up, the Toyota Vellfire hybrid luxury multi-seater.
The Hyundai Ioniq 5 scored especially well for value for money and styling, and more than decently for the other attributes except for performance and handling.
The BYD Seal, an electric saloon, clinched the No. 3 point, ceding to the Vellfire by only 1.5 points, and beating the fourth-placed Lotus Eletre – an electric performance sport utility vehicle (SUV) – by just seven points.
It is easy to see why the Ioniq 5 is such a strong winner.
The mid-sized car offers plenty of space with its 3,000mm wheelbase and 527-litre boot. It is chock-full of useful features, many of which can be accessible on the mobile phone as well as the car’s logical, crisp and well-laid-out infotainment system.
Instead of overly clever functions which consumers hardly use, the Ioniq 5 has sensible ones such as rear seats which can slide forward to free up more stowage, easy-to-fold rear seat backs and a hands-free powered tailgate.
And starting at $182,800, it is among the least costly electric vehicles (EVs) in town. In fact, it costs less than some non-electric equivalents.
One of the judges, freelance writer Lynn Tan, described it as an “all-rounder of a car”.
“I love the Hyundai Ioniq 5’s retro-futuristic look and how incredibly practical it is,” she said. “It is one of very few cars whose centre console can fit a medium-sized handbag. It doesn’t hurt that it is assembled in Singapore, so we can all share in that proud parent moment.”
Dr Kong Yongyao, another panellist and a frequent contributor to these motoring pages, called the Hyundai “a resounding triumph of imagination, ambition and execution”.
“It’s a big box with big windows and is great in every regard,” he said. “If I could give it a 10 for X-factor, I would. It does phenomenally well in many intangibles that are not fully represented on the score sheet.”
Christopher Tan, journalist, The Straits Times
Lee Nian Tjoe, journalist, The Straits Times
Andre Lam, dentist
Lynn Tan, freelance writer
Edric Pan, lawyer
Shreejit Changaroth, engineer
Lionel Seah, freelance writer
Kong Yongyao, neurologist
Toh Yong Chuan, journalist, The Straits Times
Chong Jun Liang, photojournalist, The Straits Times
Sarjeet Singh, lawyer
Wong Kai Yi, communications officer
Source: [The Straits Times] © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.