By Mark Gallivan, Motoring Journalist
Earlier this year I was invited into Aston Martin’s design studio in Gaydon to witness a sneak peek at the DB12 Super Tourer. Standing around the new car Marek Reichman, Executive vice president and chief creative officer at Aston Martin Lagonda explained the fundamental proportions necessary to design a beautifully proportioned car. Gliding his hand across a massive whiteboard he explained the importance of elements like dash-to-axle ratios. Hyundai? That had different ideas.
During my week driving the Hyundai IONIQ 5 the silent-mouthed response by umpteen pedestrians as it whooshed by was “What the heck was that?” Few current new car designs polarise opinions aft of the B pillar – or for you and me – the sheet metal from the rear door to the rear bumper like the IONIQ 6. Using a strong tumblehome the car’s top line acts like an inverted arc that rises from the front pillar and cascades downwards toward the rear lights.
Viewed from the rear three quarters the IONIQ 6 is a uniquely different-looking design and follows Hyundai’s recent run of brave designs following the IONIQ 5. They call it a Streamliner – it’s an oddly disconcerting and intriguing shape that look best in light metallic colours. Prices in Ireland start from €48,295 and offers a claimed 641km range and 15 minutes fast charging from the 800V battery. A choice of three different battery drivetrains is available offering 0-100km acceleration times from a modest 8.8 seconds with the 53kWh single-motor 2W dropping to a sprightly 5.1 seconds using the range-topping 77.4kWH Dual Motor AWD. Prices start to look expensive for a Hyundai with the IONIQ 6 Finesse AWD 77kW at €71,250.
The entry price pits the IONIQ 6 directly against the Tesla Model 3 RWD with just 491kms of electric range but is faster to reach 0-100 kmh. The IONIQ 6 shares the E-GMP EV architecture that’s shared across the Group’s Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands. The principal benefit is excellent front and rear legroom but the swooping rear roofline cut the rear passenger headroom. At 4,855mm long/1,880mm wide Hyundai’s footprint is larger than Tesla’s 4,694mm/1,850 that similar to a Toyota Corolla. Inside the seating space is very generous with rear seat occupants being treated to an almost long wheelbase 34.7 inches to stretch out but passengers over six feet tall will be touching the roof with their heads due to the sloping roofline.
The crisp design of the dashboard and rising central column is functionally similar to a current Mercedes and oddly there is no Hyundai logo of the IONIQ 6 name anywhere. Even the steering wheel’s central boss is pockmarked with a row of inserted LED lights that illuminate depending on what function you have chosen. The central touchscreen earns top marks for clarity and has little latency when scrolling with your finder. No central knob or scroll pad to operate the 12.3-inch touchscreen’s core functions is offered. A physical rotating volume knob was a plus.
A choice of 64 different ambient colours can reflect your mood like “Mind Care” to soothe your anxiety which will come in handy next time you breathlessly arrive at a charging station to find it busy or out of order. It’s only when you scratch the surface of the cabin’s fitting lower than the height of the front seats that the goss fades with hard plastics and brittle plastic.
Once underway the IONIQ 6 impresses with a deep level of refinement and isolates occupants from wind and harshness. Traction on wet conditions was better than rivals with decent steering feel at the driving limit. But for daily driving in traffic or motorways, the IONIQ 6 displays less of the hyper-sensitively of all single-geared EVs and produces its power incrementally making for a relaxed driving experience when navigating choked city traffic. You will never treat the Hyundai as a saloon with sporting characteristics even when Sport mode is chosen but the maturity of the engineering and refinement helps to offset that disappointment. One thing of note: the suspension dampening is firmer than you’d imagine and if you’re expecting Citroen levels of wafting you won’t find it here.
Taken as a whole the IONIQ 6’s claimed electric range of 429km/614km/510km is decent and due to the slippery shape holds onto those precious volts well. It’s no surprise the IONIQ 6 earned three wins in the 2023 World Car Awards and yet it would have been good to see some spice added to the mix. Not dull by any means I came away feeling a hotter performance version would have properly exploited the car’s full potential. As for the versions on sale today Hyundai should be justifiably proud of not churning out the same-as-the-rest EV. For that alone, it gets plenty of thumbs-ups.
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