First Drive: Hyundai Ioniq 6 2023 Review
There’s no doubt that Hyundai has moved beyond its designation as an interesting left-field manufacturer punching above its weight. The South Korean brand has firmly cemented itself among the mainstream with a succession of hits, from the i30 N to the i20 N, the Ioniq 5 and now this, the brilliantly sleek Ioniq 6, the latest addition to what is a continually growing range of electric models on offer from Hyundai.
It's a rare thing these days for the arrival of a new car to be genuinely surprising. Up to now, Hyundai has focused on the more cookie-cutter side of car sales, going after established markets and nabbing sales from the likes of Ford and Peugeot. The Ioniq 5 was our first glimpse of what the brains behind the brand wanted Hyundai to become: a bold, forward-thinking design supplemented with a huge dose of quality. And now we have the Ioniq 6, which at first glance looks as though it's going to up those stakes further still. We’ve driven the all-wheel-drive version in Ultimate trim to get an idea of how it performs.
- Sleek coupe looks
- Hugely spacious and airy interior
- Excellent ride
We don't like
- Seating position feels more SUV than coupe
- Seats lack support
- Quite pricey
One of the bigger talking points of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 is the looks. That elegant swoop from front to back takes a bold step away from the angular Ioniq 5, striking an aesthetic more akin to what you’d expect from Citroën or Mercedes. It’s certainly not what we’ve come to expect from Hyundai, but it’s this drive to break the mould that is making the brand such an exciting one to watch right now.
It's a slightly odd mix of styles. At the front, the droopy snoot is lined by large glass headlights that hark back to the days before the ultra-thin LEDs that have become the standard choice throughout car design just recently. Working all the way back to the rear end there isn’t a single straight line on this car save from the floor. The Ioniq 6 is billed as a streamliner, and there’s nothing here to argue against that. It’s at the rear that things suddenly get very Porsche 911. The flick-ups are the only lines to break the swoop down from the roof, while the light bar running across the width of the car again screams 911.
The range of colours on offer is typically Hyundai. At launch there is a selection of greys accompanied by black and white, brightened only a red and incredibly bright blue. Don’t be fooled by the Gravity Gold Matte option, that’s grey as well.
Performance and Handling
Driving the Ioniq 6 is, for a brief moment, surprising. Considering its coupe looks, you sit no lower in this than you do in the SUV-styled Ioniq 5. It’s a bit odd, to begin with. The driving position immediately reminded me of that in the Abarth 595. The feeling is that you’re sat on top of the car, looking over where the bonnet should be, only it droops down so sharply you can’t actually see it. It doesn’t immediately provide much of the engaged feel, but rather a sense of comfort and distance from the road akin to that of a small crossover.
With that in mind, the Ioniq 6 is clearly a car designed to be enjoyed at a leisurely speed, rather than one to roll up your sleeves and hurl into your favourite B-road. And enjoy it you can, because it’s absolutely fantastic. Being an electric car, acceleration is instantaneous, it doesn’t snap your neck with ludicrous amounts of torque – does produce 605Nm (446lb ft) – but it’s a more laid-back delivery of 325PS (239kW) that allows you to make progress without being anti-social about it. A sprint from 0-62mph takes 5.1 seconds in dual-motor AWD form, and that’s plenty quick enough.
You do have the option of three drive modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. Eco sets everything to pillow mode. Throttle response softens right up, as does the ride and the steering, it’s a serene experience that majors on comfort and relaxation, and the Ioniq 6 is almost perfectly suited to that style of driving. Switching up to Sport mode activates all manner of digitised adjustments to the feel of the car. You get weightier steering, sharper throttle response and a firmer ride, although the overall result is still some way off what you might consider to be ‘dynamic’. Sport mode feels like the wrong word for this form of the Ioniq 6. You can press on, and it will keep up if you demand a more direct turn-in, the overriding feeling is that this car is far better suited to floating through twists and turns rather than attacking them. You can cherry-pick your own settings for the steering, throttle and power delivery with the ‘My Drive’ selection.
Aside from the power, true enjoyment of the Ioniq 6 can be found in life’s more peaceful moments. The ride is one of this car’s more shining traits. On all of the roads we tested it was quiet, calm and deadly smooth, with no hint of a shudder from rougher surfaces or any such things as road or wind noise.
Braking is re-gen assisted, and you can adjust the strength of the regen using the paddles behind the steering wheel. Single-pedal driving is an option here, too, so you can follow the flow of traffic without using the brake pedal at all. Despite all the electrical assistance, the breaks still feel consistent, there’s no disconnect between your inputs and the car.
Hyundai has nailed the interior. It’s light, airy, spacious, comfortable, well laid out and well put together. A regular feature in EVs these days, the two-tier centre console provides plenty of useful stowage space, while the doors have been formed to create two large spaces to fit pretty much all of your belongings.
There’s a broad mix of materials in use, each has been selected due to its sustainability, from soft recycled plastics to ‘eco leather’ and canvas-feel liners on the doors and centre console. Everything feels of good quality, and looks modern and hard-wearing, although the lighter option available on Ultimate trim models looks as though it would be susceptible to marks from dirty feet or a spilled drink.
Considering this car has been styled as a sleek streamliner with what looks to be a low swooping roofline from the outside, the headroom for both front and rear seated occupants is far from stifling. I stand at six-foot-one and had no problem getting comfortable in the driving seat, although I did have the seat set to the very lowest position. The rear is a little tighter, but with plenty of legroom, there is at least room to shuffle about to get comfy.
Technology and Features
The Ioniq 6 is crammed with features and tech, it’s an interior that goes a long way to justifying that £50,000 price tag. There’s adjustable ambient lighting in the doors and touch controls for the air conditioning beneath a pair of 12.3-inch screens – one touchscreen for the infotainment, and another for the digital dashboard behind the steering wheel.
Speaking of the steering wheel, it’s stylised with four pixel dots where you might normally expect to find a Hyundai logo. It looks very much akin to a smart speaker, so the immediate instinct is to start talking to it. This is a feature you can expect to see in all future Ioniq models, and in the 6 they’re even lit up with LEDs, so when you do activate voice commands, they will light up to acknowledge your voice.
The front seats are eight-way adjustable, heated and ventilated. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as are the BOSE sound system and the V2L system that allows you to charge or power electrical appliances including laptops, e-bikes or mini fridges.
One feature we didn’t get to try was the digital side mirrors, which replaces the physical mirrors with a pair of cameras that beam an image onto two screens located on each side of the dashboard.
When the Ioniq 6 was first revealed to the world back in 2022 it was one of the more interesting and exciting new electric cars on the horizon. It cut away from the boxy SUV trend, something Hyundai has confirmed it will continue to do going forward as it embarks on its ‘chess piece’ design philosophy.
Now we’ve had a go behind the wheel, some of the intrigue has melted away, because inside it still feels like a traditional, high-seated crossover. However, the option of having that floaty feel attached to some similarly floaty exterior styling is an interesting one.
EV range is now standard at more than 300 miles to a full charge, and the Ioniq 6 hits that target easily. It also feels like a genuinely high-quality product, with comfort levels reaching the heights of Audi and even BMW. Unfortunately, that does mean it also competes with those more expensive brands when it comes to price, too. Upwards of £50,000 might seem steep for a Hyundai, but in this case, it’s almost entirely justified.
|Powertrain||Dual motor, 77.4kWh battery|
|Torque||605Nm (446lb ft)|
|Transmission||Single-speed automatic, all-wheel-drive|
|Fuel economy||322 miles|
|CO2 emissions||18 minutes for 10-80 per cent at 350kW. 73 minutes for 10-80 per cent at 50kW.|
|Price||£54,040 as tested|
Reviewed by Simon Ostler