If you want the basic information about the new Hyundai Ioniq 6 electric crossover, take a look at this review of the Ioniq 5 SUV, or this one, or this one. They’ll tell you all about the 800-volt architecture of the EV platform, and the pricing, and the fast-charging abilities.
All of that is similar for the Ioniq 6 electric sedan, which is built on the same platform. You won’t find the word “sedan” on Hyundai’s web page for the model, though, nor anywhere in its press releases. The South Korean automaker refers to it as a “streamliner” and prefers to let its looks do the talking. In these days of four-door coupes and Mustang SUVs, it’s probably best just to call it a car.
There’s not much traditional about it, though. The cabin is spacious and airy because there’s no driveshaft from an engine in the front to the wheels at the back, and so like any electric vehicle, the floor is flat for all passengers. Electric motors are attached directly to the axles, and there’s a choice of rear or all-wheel drive (AWD).
If you want the greatest range possible on a single charge, the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) version will give you up to 581 kilometres on a warm day. For the record, that’s five kilometres more than the soon-to-be-available Long Range version of the Tesla Model 3, which is the clear rival. It’s also considerably farther than the 488 kilometres of the longest-range Ioniq 5.
The Ioniq 6 has a more aerodynamic shape than its Ioniq 5 sibling, so it can travel farther on the same charge. The car claims a drag coefficient of 0.22, compared to the SUV’s 0.29. This is similar territory to the claimed 0.21 of a Tesla Model S, or even the 0.20 of a Mercedes-Benz EQS. Lower wind resistance is one of the benefits of a sedan over a more bulky SUV.
The main disadvantage is cargo capacity: The SUV is taller and more versatile and provides up to 770 litres of cargo space behind the rear seats, while the sedan provides 317 litres for cargo in its rear trunk. The back seats fold down in a 60/40 split, so you can still carry skis or hockey sticks inside the car.
The basic RWD Ioniq 6 lists for $54,999 and rises through two AWD editions to $63,999. The federal government rebate takes $5,000 off any EV with a starting price below $55,000, and this also applies to trim levels that list below $65,000; additional rebates in a handful of provinces drop the price further. The federal rebate used to apply only to vehicles with a starting price below $45,000 and the Ioniq 5 was introduced then at $44,999, but that vehicle had a “standard-range” battery good for 354 kilometres. All Ioniq 6s in Canada come with “long-range” batteries that get up to 509 and 435 kilometres for the two AWD editions.
So, how does it drive? In short, exceptionally well. I took the AWD edition out for a brisk tour of the Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles, and the car was flat into the canyon curves, slowing for corners by tapping on the brake regeneration paddles instead of shifting gears. It drives as you would expect a well-balanced sedan to drive, with plenty of response at the throttle, brakes and steering wheel. I sat a little lower than in the SUV, and the disadvantage of sight-blocking traffic was outweighed by the pleasure on a winding road.
The sedan is 21.6 centimetres longer than the SUV, though its wheelbase is five centimetres shorter. It’s also 10.4 centimetres shorter in height, which means there’s less headroom for the driver. The supplied numbers for the two models are unusual: While the Ioniq 5 has maximum headroom of 1,011 millimetres in the front and 983 in the rear, the Ioniq 6 flips that around to have headroom of 983 millimetres in the front and 1,021 in the rear. All this space is generous, however, and my almost-six-foot height was comfortable in all seats of both vehicles. Leg room is also generous.
In truth, very few buyers will choose between the sedan or the SUV. Either they have a dog or a need for more versatile luggage space, or they don’t and they enjoy the pleasure of the drive. The Ioniq 6 shares almost everything with the Ioniq 5 but it does offer a greater driving range, and in Canada, that’s probably the decider for many.
The real decision will be between the Ioniq 6 and the Tesla Model 3. The basic models of each are almost identical in price, though the basic Tesla has a range of only 438 kilometres. It’s the long-range variant of the Model 3 that is closest in comparison, and its price has not yet been announced. Tesla has its own, superior charging network, but if an Ioniq 6 driver is content to charge mostly at home because the driving range is so great, that appeal is considerably diminished.
- Base price/as tested: $54,999/$63,999, plus freight and predelivery inspection, additional fees and taxes
- Engine: RWD: 168-kilowatt motor with 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery; 225 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque; AWD: 74-kilowatt and 165-kilowatt motors with 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery; 320 horsepower, 446 lb-ft of torque
- Range (kilometres): RWD – 581; AWD – 509; AWD with Ultimate package – 435.
- Alternatives: Tesla Model 3, Polestar 2, BMW i4, Mercedes-Benz EQE
The Ioniq 6 has a distinctive curved shape, with a low nose and trunk. I think of it as like a dolphin in the water, and it’s all about streamlining. Gaps are tight in the wheels to minimize turbulent air, and every deflector, reducer and winglet is there to improve aerodynamics.
The cabin is spacious and there’s a choice of ambient lighting, with 64 available colours and half-a-dozen dual-colour selections. You won’t see it in daylight, but it makes for a more pleasant ride after dark.
The car is not as quick as its Genesis GV60 sibling, which has more powerful motors, but it can still accelerate from zero to 100 kilometres an hour in less than five seconds. The most important thing is that you won’t want to slow down at curves, either, because the low centre of gravity keeps the large and heavy car as flat as a go-kart.
There are four small lights on the centre of the steering wheel that you won’t find on the Ioniq 5. According to spokesperson Miles Johnson: “Our chairman said, ‘why is it that every single car, on the hornpad, has just the emblem? Can we make that a usable piece of real estate in the interior?’ And we said, ‘Yeah, we can do that.’ So our engineers came back with the idea of the four lights, and they indicate the state of charging, and the voice activation. It’s a fun little touch.” It copies the design of the lights on Google devices, which is no accident.
The really clever stuff, of course, is the fast charging. It’s no different from the fast charging on the Ioniq 5, of which reams have been written, so I won’t get into that here. Let’s just say it’s well ahead of the game in Canada because there are still few stations capable of charging at such a fast rate.
Also, the Ioniq 6 now allows over-the-air updates. Tesla owners won’t be impressed, because their cars have had this from the beginning.
Fairly roomy in the trunk, with 317 litres and another 11 litres in the front trunk, or “frunk.” In practice, the frunk is where you’ll keep the mobile charging cable.
The Ioniq 5 was a groundbreaking electric SUV and the Ioniq 6 now takes the same technology to break ground as an electric sedan. It offers more features for less money than the Tesla Model 3 that is its clear target. What’s not to like?