There are occasions when two siblings – despite having the same parents, similar DNA, and comparable upbringings, are as different as chalk and cheese. One has rainbow hair and listens to k-pop whilst the other has a closet full of black outfits and rocks out to heavy metal.
It seems the same phenomenon is afoot at Hyundai. The brand’s nifty IONIQ 5
shares much under the skin – platform, battery, et al – with the new numerically adjacent IONIQ 6, including robust electric motors and a hearty battery pack capable of long-legged all-electric range. But where the 5 has a crossover silhouette and styling by Minecraft, the 6 has four doors and a trunk whilst wearing slippery bodywork which would fit right in at a NASA convention.
In fact, the shape of this new Hyundai is slick enough to register a drag coefficient of just 0.22, lowest in the brand’s profile and smoother than an android’s bottom. Its shape is sure to divide people blessed with the gift of sight; this author thinks it is attractive, with a tapered rear reminiscent of the Infiniti J30 and a jutting spoiler suggestive of certain Porsche 911 sports cars. Some to whom we spoke on our drive agreed, whilst others opined a markedly different view. No matter your camp, we can all agree there’s no chance owners will lose this thing in a parking lot. Pixels abound – check out those taillamps – as part of the visual image Hyundai is building for the IONIQ sub-brand.
The air thinks it’s pretty, too. Developers of the IONIQ 6 told us design decisions were made at the altar of aerodynamics to wring every single kilometre of range out of its battery pack. A simple and wide front bumper incorporates active grille shutters – twin horizontal rectangles on either side of those six pixels, flush door handles permit the side panels to scythe through the air unimpeded, and the spoiler diverts the air in such a way as to minimize the traditional “aero grab” which can accumulate behind a car at speed.
Built on 800V architecture, the 77.4 kWh battery pack can be refilled from 10 to 80 percent in about 20 minutes if one can find a public Level 3 charging station capable of belting out electrons to the tune of 350kW. At that rate of replenishment, 100km can be added in 5 minutes or over 300km in just 15 minutes. Hooking up to a typical 50kW charger will juice the battery to 80 percent in 75 minutes, while a Level 2 AC charging setup at home can easily refill the thing while all hands are snoozing in their beds at night.
It was worth the effort. Hyundai says rear-wheel drive versions of the IONIQ 6 can stretch its legs a stunning 581 kilometres, outperforming just about every EV on the market. An equivalently priced and similarly equipped Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2 are good for roughly 440 kilometres. Adding a motor to the IONIQ 6’s front axle grants all-wheel drive capability, great for foul weather but cuts the range to a still-impressive 509 kilometres. In either one, there’s a solid chance that on long journeys passengers of the IONIQ 6 will need to make a pit stop well before the car needs to be recharged.
That extra motor also brings extra power. Rear-drive cars make 225 horsepower and 258lb.-ft of torque while all-wheel drive variants are good for a healthy 320 ponies and 446 units of twist. It was the latter to which we snagged the keys to on a rainy day in Vancouver, heading through urban environs before making a run up neighbouring Cypress for a peek at the remaining snow.
Hyundai offers a trio of driving modes in the IONIQ 6. Eco does what it says on the package, accumulating speed at a moderate rate which belies the car’s total power output but does wonders for maximizing its total driving range. Alert drivers will notice a bit of pushback in the accelerator pedal in this mode but that’s easily pushed through if the driver calls for maximum thrust in traffic or while exiting a side street. Sport mode is favoured by this writer, range be damned, since it permitted hyperdrive-style acceleration at the flex of my big toe and was endlessly responsive. When the speed freaks at Hyundai’s N division finally fettle this electric powertrain, it promises to be extremely entertaining. Engaging that mode turns dashboard details red for an extra bit of theatre. Normal mode lives between those two extremes.
That zoomy roofline makes this sedan appear smaller than it actually is; with a total length of 4855mm, it is 161 mm longer than a Tesla Model 3 and 220 mm longer than it IONIQ 5 sibling. As a familiar yardstick, it’s actually about the same length as a Sonata. Interestingly, the IONIQ 5 has a longer wheelbase, with almost all the extra span sticking beyond the rear wheels in the form of aero tricks which increase range. The biggest bogey out back is cargo volume, just 316 litres, though it is aided by a small frunk.
There are no complaints with interior space, as even this 6’6” author could get comfortable in the driver’s seat without needing to place it all the way at the back of its travel. The headliner did not caress my balding pate, despite the presence of a sunroof. One must mind their noggin whilst getting into the back seat, lest they bonk their melon on that fast roofline, but headroom is acceptable once installed in that perch. There was little space under the front seat for my size 13 Blundstones, though those with smaller feet will probably be fine.
Dual 12.3-inch displays dominate the interior, one for serving up critical vehicle information to the driver while the other handles infotainment duties. Hyundai’s UX is largely straightforward, with the only blip being commands for changing the direction of ventilation sometimes required two pokes at the interface. Adding wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto would also be a leap in convenience. Certainly, the IONIQ 6 doesn’t operate like an alien science project, with some logically placed physical controls dotting the interior providing comforting visual anchors for anyone new to the EV ownership experience.
Those buttons with stars on ‘em? Hyundai lets you choose yer own adventure with these switches, permitting the custom assignment of controls based on your needs or preference. And if you’re wondering why there are wing-like protrusions bookending the dashboard where it meets the car’s door panels, they are used in other markets to house small screens which act as sideview mirrors. Bedwetting lawyers won’t permit that too-cool tech in our country.
As is Hyundai’s wont, the IONIQ 6 makes a strong value play. Its rear-wheel drive variant in Preferred trim is priced at $54,999 but stepping up to an all-wheel drive version (with nearly 100 extra horses, ‘member) in equivalent spec is just a $3,000 proposition. From there, it is a further six grand walk to our tester’s Ultimate trim. That model bins cloth seats in favour of artificial leather, adds heat to the rear bench and ventilation to the front chairs, includes a banging Bose stereo, and tacks on 20-inch wheels. The latter is of importance, since their extra weight and rolling resistance reduces driving range to 435 kilometres – still a good number and deep within Tesla territory, but I’m not sure my vanity is worth 74 clicks of range.
It's for that reason we recommend sticking with the Premium package, taking advantage of its healthy standard equipment list while retaining a long-legged driving range. Whether one opts for rear- or all-wheel drive is largely a matter of personal preference and location of residence in this great country; we’ll take extra horsepower any day of the week but the allure of nearly 600km of range is hard to ignore. Note well: federal iZEV rebates apply and you’re encouraged to examine any provincial largesse which may be on the table in addition to what’s on offer from Daddy Government.
The IONIQ 6 might look markedly different from its sibling – but there’s no doubt they both come from very good stock. This slick EV should be arriving in dealers this April.
2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6
Preferred RWD – $54,999
Preferred AWD – $57,999
Ultimate AWD – $63,999
: four-door sedan
: single or dual electric motor, rear- or all-wheel drive
: 225 hp, 258 lb.-ft (single), 320 hp, 446lb.-ft (dual)
: 316 litres