Hyundai's slippery IONIQ 6 saloon re-sets the EV segment standard for aerodynamics. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
The race is on to create the most streamlined passenger EV - and here's the latest contender, the Hyundai IONIQ 6, which slips through the air at just 0.21Cd. The result is possible 382 mile range that beats obvious rivals. And brings this saloon counterpart to the IONIQ 5 right into contention if you're looking at cars like the Polestar 2 and the Tesla Model 3.
Hyundai has lately reinvented itself as creator of interesting cars - particularly EVs. The IONIQ 5 of 2020 really caused a stir and this its saloon showroom stablemate the IONIQ 6 will get the neighbours talking too. There's no way you would know that those two cars share everything under the skin because the IONIQ 6 looks completely different - not only to the '5' but to everything else on the road. The shape's said to be inspired by 'streamliner' models of the 1930s and '40s. Simon Loasby, Hyundai's Head of Styling, cites the 1947 Stout Scarab, the Phantom Corsair and the Saab Ursaab as major influences. No, we don't remember them either.
Anyway, the whole point of going the 'streamliner' route was for Loasby and his team to gain the industry's first sub-0.20Cd drag factor coefficient. They didn't quite manage that but got close enough (0.21Cd) to make possible a class-leading driving range figure. That might get you interested in this car, but if you choose it, it'll be because of one thing and one thing only: the way it looks.
There would be no point in this car looking like it does if all the efforts of streamlining didn't make a radical difference to range. Well here's the figure; 338 miles - which applies to the 230PS rear motor model: a 325PS dual motor AWD version is also available (which manages 322 miles). Both variants use a 77.4kWh battery and should be able to regularly crest 300 miles between charges. The streamlining necessary to achieve these range figures obviously helps refinement too.
Don't be fooled by that 911-style rear end into assuming this to be some kind of sports saloon - it isn't. Though it's as quick as many sedans of that sort, the AWD version making 62mph from rest in just 5.1s. There are three drive settings ('Eco', 'Normal' and 'Sport') and brake regen steering wheel paddles. Plus sound effects as you drive, which are audibly futuristic and which you'll probably quickly turn off.
With top 'Ultimate' trim, Hyundai includes 'Active Sound Design' (e-ASD), a technology that gives the IONIQ 6 a unique and defining sound under acceleration. It's certainly audibly futuristic but having tried it once, you'll probably quickly turn it off. Customers choosing 'Ultimate' specification can also specify the option of digital side mirrors. With these fitted and the smaller 18-inch wheel rims that are available in other markets, the Korean brand says an IONIQ 6 would be able to travel up to 384 miles between charges.
Design and Build
At first glance, it's hard to believe the IONIQ 6 is even related to the IONIQ 5 it shares all its mechanicals with. It's not even the same size, at 4,855mm long, being 220mm lengthier. You might think there's a bit of Porsche influence here - Taycan at the front and 911 at the rear, where the swept-back tail conceals a boot rather than the expected hatch. The only established IONIQ styling cue is found with the rear lamps' 'parametric pixel' LED light graphics.
The interior will be a lot more familiar if you happen to have already tried an IONIQ 5. If you haven't, you might possibly find it almost as avant-garde as the bodywork, particularly if you've a model fitted with the optional digital wing mirrors. This current (rather pointless) EV fad sees narrow camera stalks feed images to small wingtip mirror screens that fold out of the corners of the dashboard. The main displays are both 12-inches in size - for the central infotainment monitor and the instrument cluster. And new for the '6' is an ambient lighting system offering 4096 colour combinations that can change in hue as you go quicker.
You might expect this car's swept-back roof and 50mm wheelbase reduction over the boxier IONIQ 5 to compromise things in the rear, but actually it's not too bad at all for a couple of adult six-footers. There's a decently-sized 401-litre boot too, plus a little 'frunk' beneath the bonnet that's 45-litres in size with a rear-driven version (though its capacity falls to just 12-litres if you choose an AWD model).
Market and Model
Most IONIQ 6 owners will be choosing variants that cost £50,000 or more. There are two mainstream trim levels - base 'Premium' (priced from around £47,000) and plusher 'Ultimate' (priced from just over £50,000). All variants get the largest 77.4kWh battery and there's a premium of around £3,500 to progress from the rear-driven 228PS model to the 325PS AWD powertrain.
Even base 'Premium' trim gets you quite a lot in terms of kit: 20-inch alloy wheels, electrically operated and folding door mirrors, flush door handles, privacy glass, front and rear LED lighting and a rear spoiler with integrated LED brake light. Internal features include electronically controlled and heated front seats with separate lumbar support, heated rear seats, a 12.3-inch Touchscreen Satellite Navigation and Media Centre with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and Bluelink connected car service with a 3-year subscription.
Expect all IONIQ 6 models to get the usual executive sector niceties: things like wireless phone charging, a rear view camera, LED Multi-Faceted Reflector headlamps, rear parking sensors and Navigation based Smart Cruise Control. Plus loads of camera safety and drive assistance features - Highway Drive Assist (HDA), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Keep Assist with Lane Following Assist (LKAS + LFA) and Driver Attention Alert.
Cost of Ownership
We gave you the driving range figures in our 'Driving Experience' section: they're very class-competitive. And very dependent on the sleek aerodynamics, said to have been influenced by everything from a Spitfire World War 2 fighter plane to the shape that a peregrine falcon takes when it dives after prey. The drag factor's also aided by active air flaps, wheel air curtains, wheel gap reducers, separation traps and wheel deflectors.
Like other Hyundai, Kia and Genesis EVs (but unlike most competitors), this car has an 800V electrical infrastructure, which provides for 350kW ultra-fast charger compatibility and means that this model is future-proofed for the new area of ultra-rapid chargers that will be springing up on major European routes shortly. In the unlikely event you were to come across one of these Ultra-Rapid charging stations today, a 10-80% top-up would take just 17 minutes, with 62 miles of range for every 5 minutes of charging with the 77.4kWh battery. But of course, right at present it's far more likely that you'll be using a more conventional 50kW Fast Charging station, which requires 56 and a half minutes to charge a 77.4kWh model from 10-80% - that's 17 miles for every 5 minutes.
Mostly of course, you'll be charging at home. The times required here depend of course on your property's power supply and the capacity of the wallbox you fit, but to give you an example, a 10.5kW wallbox connected to a 3 phase supply would require 10 hours and 53 minutes to charge a 77.4kWh variant to 100%. If you use a lesser 7.4kW household wallbox, you're looking at 11 hours 45 minutes for the 77.4kWh models. Plug in to a conventional 3-pin domestic plug and of course replenishment will take heaps longer - 30 hours and 45 minutes with the 77.4kWh.
All IONIQ 6 models come with a 1 year subscription to the IONITY charging network, plus Hyundai's 5 Year Unlimited Mileage Warranty, an 8 Year/100,000 Mile High Voltage Battery Warranty, a 5 Year Annual Health Check, a 3 year MapCare navigation update program, a Roadside Assistance package, and a 12 Year Anti Corrosion Warranty.
Not long ago, the most interesting choices you could make if you wanted a cutting-edge mid-sized plush electric vehicle were all conventional SUVs. Now, you could argue that it's more avant-garde to choose something far less obviously of the Crossover genre. Three of the segment's most advanced contenders - the Tesla Model 3, the Polestar 2 and this IONIQ 6 - all take that route. All three cars are interesting, forward-thinking and innovative - but for very different reasons.
That Hyundai can compete on equal terms against competitors of this calibre says a lot for how far the company has come over the last few years. The brand has seized the EV revolution as a chance to reinvent itself and cars like this IONIQ 6 are doing just that. The trumpeted 384 mile range figure is dependent on so many caveats that few owners will ever achieve it, but the possibility of a regular 300 mile range reading is real enough - and that's a step forward for this segment. So is the IONIQ 6.