As we approach summer deliveries of Hyundai’s upcoming electric streamliner – the IONIQ 6, I got the chance to get behind the wheel for the first time and share my thoughts. As Hyundai’s second model on its 800V E-GMP platform and one of the most aerodynamic EVs available, the IONIQ 6 is sure to provide an extremely joyful, sporty ride to owners, while delivering some of the most advanced technology at quite reasonable costs.

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Background on the Hyundai IONIQ 6

Ever since Hyundai launched its new EV-specific line of IONIQ vehicles in 2020, the 6 streamliner has been on our radar as one we’ve been dying to drive. Especially after the quick success of its preceding sibling, the IONIQ 5.

Hyundai teased first images of the aero-centric sedan in June of 2022, followed by a global debut event in mid-July. In October, Hyundai shared the targeted range and drag coefficient on the IONIQ 6, which now arrives as one of the most aerodynamic EVs on the market.

Pre-orders began in the EU first and sold out in less than 24 hours. Following its official debut at Automobility Los Angeles last fall, Hyundai officially launched the IONIQ 6 in North America, which only flamed the fire of desire for this sleek EV on the 800V platform.

I admittedly was not blown away from the first images of the IONIQ 6, but after personally exploring it inside and out in my video walkthrough, I had a quick change of heart. It’s a lot smaller and sportier in person, yet is still enormous inside.

After that visit to Hyundai USA, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of this thing and test it out for myself. I recently got that chance and was not disappointed. Here are my thoughts.

IONIQ 6 is loaded with interior and exterior firsts for Hyundai

If you follow Electrek closely, you probably have witnessed me gawk over the IONIQ 5 for over a year as it felt like an all-electric ode to my own personal style – retro meets high-tech. Like a first born, I didn’t think I had any room left in my heart for the IONIQ 6. What the hell is a “streamliner” anyway?

Well, just like Hyundai did in the interior cabin of this new 800V EV, I somehow found more room to love the IONIQ 6 and believe it is going to fare extremely well globally. The team at Hyundai described the overall feel of 6 as a more driver-centric experience compared to the IONIQ 5.

Like the IONIQ 5, Hyundai’s parametric pixels are visible throughout the exterior, from the front headlamps, to the entire rear tail light, and up across its super sporty dual spoilers, housing a unique stop lamp. Across its side, you’ll notice a unique character line and two-tone cladding.

Moving down toward the front wheel, Hyundai has implemented a subtle but effective gap reducer, which its design team explained allows for shorter overall overhang up front ,while retaining maximized aerodynamics. Speaking of aero, the Hyundai IONIQ 6 offers a 0.22 drag coefficient – strengthening its given title as a streamliner.

Moving inward, you’ll notice a “winglet” dashboard design that has much more of a cockpit feel compared to the compact SUV that came before it. In a unique first for Hyundai, it also moved all the door buttons to the bridge style center console, allowing not only a minimalist door interior, but noticeable width and comfort for both the driver and front passenger.

The steering wheel features four parametric pixels, which I learned translates to “H” in morse code. Across the cockpit, Hyundai as upped its lighting game by adding dual ambience to the IONIQ 6. In addition to six preset lighting themes and over 4,000 different combinations, the streamliner’s ambient light is linked to its speed and can change as you accelerate – once again adding to overall “driver-centric” experience.

While driving, I found the design of the steering wheel intuitive and loved the paddle shifters on either side to switch between four different levels of regenerative braking. It should come as no surprise that I kept it mostly on Hyundai’s stiffest I-Pedal mode for one pedal driving, but felt it had a balanced mix of recuperation for all driver preferences. The IONIQ 6 also features a Smart Regenerative System (SRS) 2.0 that monitors the EV’s speed and vehicles around it using front radar and adjusts regen accordingly. I really felt it when going down declines for instance, as the brake automatically applies itself in front of your foot. Eerie but cool – talk about ghost riding the whip!

The Limited trim I was driving comes equipped with an 110V vehicle-to-load outlet under the rear seat which can be used to power devices when the EV is on or in utility mode. Like the 5, the IONIQ 6 also features V2L on its exterior plug, capable of an 110V, 15 amp output at 1.9 kW.

It’s no a hypercar, but it’s still fun as hell to drive

As you’ll see in the detailed specifications below, the Hyundai IONIQ 6 is not the fastest or most powerful EV on the market, nor is it trying to be. What it is however, is a super aerodynamic ride with some of the industry’s best efficiency that still has plenty of go when you hit the accelerator.

Did I mention it also sits on an 800V platform capable of charge rates between 230-235 kW on a DC charger? It’s also backwards compatible with 400V charging thanks to its onboard inverter. Who else is delivering that? Better yet, who else is delivering that for the MSRPs you’ll see below?

The platform itself features a new heat pump that reflects heat from the motor(s) vertically down through the battery cells to the cooling module beneath. Hyundai’s team explained this allowed them to reduce the part count by 70%, including the removal of a cooling fin, thus increasing the EV’s energy efficiency by 7%. What’s better, is that battery preconditioning and the heat pump come standard on all trims of the IONIQ 6. Love that.

The AWD version features new dog clutch as part of a Disconnect Actuator System (DAS) that allows the front motor to operate separately from the wheels, leading to another 6% increase in efficiency. Hyundai is offering three versions of the IONIQ 6 with AWD and the DAS, alongside four RWD versions of varying performance and design features. Here’s how they break down.

Performance specs, trim levels, and pricing

Future customers of the IONIQ 6 will not only see a variety of trim levels at their disposal offering an option for nearly anyone willing to spend $42,000 on a new EV, but arguably the most bang for your buck in terms of technology and standard features.

Hyundai shared that all seven trims mentioned above are currently in production in Korea. Every variant will soon be available to order, except for the RWD version of the SE, which is scheduled to arrive this summer.

The automaker told us the 6 will be available in 43 states currently home to IONIQ certified dealers, but could be eventually become available in all 50 states, should those dealers apply to sell.

Plenty of other notable features to explore

Here are some additional features that Hyundai is wielding to truly set itself apart from the market. The IONIQ 6 will feature the debut of Hyundai’s first iteration of EV route planner in its navigation system.

The new maps pull real-time data from all the major charging networks to suggest where to stop and recharge along your predetermined route. If you drive past one, the navigation will quickly update and suggest a new spot to stop along the way.

Hyundai shared that this feature will also be rolled out to other EVs later this year via OTA update, so keep an eye out for that. Additionally, all future Hyundai EVs will come equipped with the complimentary software, beginning on 2024 models.

Another cool feature is Hyundai’s BlueLink+ digital key, which allows you to unlock and start the IONIQ 6 with your smartphone without the need for your key fob. As we also tested, you can add Blue Link to your Apple Watch and open the EV’s doors (see above), but you still need a phone to start the car.

In another first, original IONIQ 6 owners will receive complimentary BlueLink+ access with no expiration. Previously, new EV owners were given three years of access. This includes full access to Connected Care, Remote Access, and Navigational Guidance. The streamliner will also some with in-car WiFi hotspot powered by Verizon’s 4G LTE network for three free months or 3GB of data.

So how does it drive? Well my friends, let me tell you.

IONIQ 6 only strengthens Hyundai’s growing EV prowess

Right as we pulled out of the hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, I wasted no time in immediately switching to Sport Mode and giving the IONIQ 6 hell. My drive partner Jordan was immediately pushed back into his seat as we experience all 320 horsepower of our AWD Limited trim. He immediately turned to me and said, “this is gonna be a fun day.” He wasn’t wrong.

As I mentioned before, I loved the stiff regen of I-Pedal, which allowed me to come to a complete halt and stay put without ever touching the brake. I personally left coasting and rolling behind with combustion, and always get a little irked when automakers tout stiff regenerative braking that doesn’t deliver true one-pedal driving. Hyundai’s is some of the best in my opinion.

Even in Normal drive mode, the torque of the dual motors in the IONIQ 6 sent me, but Sport Mode was where it was at in terms of acceleration. Especially through the winding desert plains around Arizona. Accelerating through curves and over humps in the road, the IONIQ 6 cut through the air while hugging the pavement, offering a much sportier ride than the 5.

Remember that ambient lightning I mentioned earlier tied to the EV’s acceleration? Well Sport Mode also includes a relative EV Active Sound Design (e-ASD) function that blasts space-age motor noises through the cabin as you accelerate. It’s tough to get the full experience from the video below, but you can still hear the futuristic hum, complimented by an echoing chime as we accelerate. Have a listen.

In terms of user interface, I found the 12.3 displays and HUD to be more than adequate. The access to CarPlay is always welcome in my opinion, although there was no capability for wireless CarPlay connectivity. Not a huge deal, but would have been a nice addition.

Taylor Swift’s new album sounded amazing on the Bose Premium audio system, blasted throughout the roomy cabin. Whether I was driving, riding shotgun, or exploring the back seat, the IONIQ 6’s 116″ wheelbase provided tons of room, enabling a passenger volume of 103 cubic-feet, which is significantly larger than comparable models like the Tesla Model 3 or Polestar 2.

Yet another reason why I think the IONIQ 6 is going to be another home run in the market. It provides a more driving-focused design for those potential customers who found the 5 too large or boxy, while still delivering ultra-fast charging, V2L, and amazing efficiency.

In terms of pricing, Hyundai is not only offering tremendous variety through seven trims, but a price point to satisfy most drivers looking to go electric, especially when you consider many of the features that come standard e.g. heat pump, BlueLink+, etc.

I personally feel like the RWD SE is the sweet spot in the lineup. With 361 miles of estimated range for just over $45,000, you’re getting nearly 90 miles more than the RWD Model 3 for about an extra $2,000. I think the 235 kW charge rate and V2L capability is worth that extra money alone, but the added range is a bonus. The SE feels like another solid option if you want AWD, still offering over 315 miles of range with extra oomph from the front motor.

All in all, the Hyundai IONIQ 6 feels bound to arrive as another successful entry into the EV market and will provide even more evidence that the automaker is delivering some of the most advanced and efficient vehicles at respectable value. Being able to eventually produce EVs in the US should only sweeten the deal for potential consumers who can take advantage of federal tax credits.

I highly recommend going for a test drive when you can, because this EV is going to be tough to get when it goes on sale.

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