Hyundai Ioniq 6: New Tesla Model 3 rival boasts 379-mile range

Hyundai’s long-awaited follow-up to the Ioniq 5 goes on sale later this year, while the 577bhp RN22e concept we’ve driven hints at a hot version to come

In June, Hyundai revealed the Ioniq 6, a sleek four-door saloon to sit alongside the impressive Ioniq 5 hatchback in its fully electric range and take on the hugely popular Tesla Model 3, BMW i4 and Polestar 2.

When it goes on sale later this year, the Ioniq 6 will be offered with 53 and 77.4kWh battery options, and rear or all-wheel-drive. Helped by an aerodynamic body influenced by the ‘streamliner’ cars of the 1930s, this should be sufficient for up to 379 miles on a charge, says Hyundai. That’s five miles more than the official number for the Tesla Model 3 Long Range.

And the Ioniq 6’s range figure could improve over time thanks to over-the-air (OTA) software updates. Hyundai executive vice-president Thomas Schemera told DrivingElectric: “Software over the air will allow us to update key control systems, including the battery control system, for even better performance and enhance the ownership experience for customers.”

Top-spec versions of the Ioniq 6 will pair the 77.4kWh battery with a dual-motor setup for four-wheel drive, 316bhp, 605Nm of torque and a 0-62mph time of just 5.1 seconds. We expect the entry-level 53kWh version to have a range closer to 250 miles and make under 200bhp from a single motor powering the rear wheels.

When asked about potential for more variants, Hyundai’s chief designer SangYup Lee told us: “I can make a great hatchback out of that; a shooting brake,” suggesting that a more practical model, akin to sister brand Genesis’ GV70 Shooting Brake, shouldn't be ruled out. He also agreed that the Ioniq 6 would “make a great performance model”, which Hyundai hinted at the possibility of with the RN22e we drove recently (further down).

Exact charging speeds for the Ioniq 6 have yet to be disclosed, but we do know it can be topped up from 10-80% capacity in just 18 minutes. That’s thanks to the same EV-dedicated E-GMP underpinnings as the Ioniq 5Kia EV6 and Genesis GV60, which features an 800-volt charging system for rapid charging speeds upwards of 220kW.

Pricing and exact specifications for the Ioniq 6 are still under wraps, but we believe it won’t be much more expensive than its Ioniq 5 stablemate, with the entry-level model likely to start from around £43,000, rising to roughly £57,000 for the range-topper. Order books are set to open later this year, with first deliveries in early 2023.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 design and interior

Nicknamed the ‘Electric Streamliner’, the Ioniq 6 has a drag coefficient of just 0.21Cd, which is the same as the Lucid Air. But the striking-looking EV also draws heavily on the Hyundai Prophecy concept car for inspiration. Specifically, it retains the Prophecy’s rakish, almost coupe-like roofline, ducktail spoiler and very short overhangs at the front and rear. 

Those short overhangs should help maximise cabin space, as will the electric saloon’s 2.95-metre wheelbase, which is roughly the same as a BMW 5 Series’ and longer than that of its main rival, the Tesla Model 3. The Ioniq 6 is generally longer than the Model 3 as well, measuring 4.85 metres end-to-end. 

Meanwhile, digital door mirrors, active air intakes and flush doorhandles should all help reduce drag, although regular mirrors are likely to come as standard. Some of the Ioniq 5’s more unique styling details have also been carried over to its saloon stablemate, including square LED lights and bold surfacing. Customers will have a choice of 12 paint shades – all made from vegetable oils – and alloy-wheel sizes from 18 to 20 inches.

The car’s dual-screen infotainment setup comes straight out of the Ioniq 5, too; it consists of a 12-inch digital driver’s display and 12-inch central touchscreen. Below that are a row of shortcut buttons and a touch-sensitive panel for adjusting the cabin temperature. 

The Ioniq 6’s slightly squared-off steering wheel features interactive LED lights in the centre, which light up to show the battery’s state of charge and flash green when the car is fully topped up. They also illuminate when you’re using the virtual assistant. There are still physical buttons for various functions on the wheel, while unusually, the window switches up front have been moved from the doors to the centre console.

The cabin also includes 64-colour ambient lighting front and rear, plus a completely flat floor, and is finished using sustainable materials like processed leather, recycled plastics and fishing nets – the latter used for the seats and carpets respectively. 

Other technology featured includes vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging and an ‘e-ASD’ (Electric Active Sound Design) that adds a spaceship-like sound to the cabin, which changes based on how the car is being driven. There's also an 'EV performance tune-up' system that enables you to tweak the steering weight, electric-motor power and accelerator pedal sensitivity among other settings.

However, the Ioniq 6 doesn’t feature a hatchback like the Polestar 2 or BMW i4, instead having a narrow, letterbox-style boot opening. Hyundai has yet to reveal luggage capacity, or whether there’ll be any additional storage space under the bonnet.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 N? We drive the RN22e concept

Considering that we know a high-performance version of the Ioniq 5 from Hyundai’s N division is arriving in 2023, it’s not too much of a stretch to think a similar Ioniq 6 could be on the cards, too. The brand has even given us a glimpse of what a hot Ioniq 6 N could look like with the RN22e concept and allowed us the opportunity to take a drive. 

This bright blue rolling laboratory looks like the love child between the Ioniq 6 saloon and a touring car. It features Hyundai’s latest technology, some of which will make an appearance in the Ioniq 5 N next year. It also uses the same E-GMP platform as the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6, not to mention the Kia EV6 and Genesis GV60, and two electric motors for a total power output of 577bhp and 740Nm of torque – the same as the Kia EV6 GT.

Then there’s the new twin-clutch differential, which can send as much as 100% of drive to just one of the rear wheels, and works with the regenerative braking system to sharpen the handling abilities. It’s all part of the N division’s desire to maintain driver engagement in the world of EVs. 

The RN22e also received some new sound and vibration tech. The first is called ‘N Sound+’, and it gives the RN22e a distinctive (albeit entirely fake) growl – which is surprisingly effective. Meanwhile, the even more unique ‘N e-shift’ creates a virtual gearchange of sorts by interrupting the flow of power when the driver uses the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, thus mimicking the feel of using a gearbox in a combustion-engined car.

As you’d expect from a 577bhp EV, the RN22e’s performance is shocking. But the way it turns into a corner, and can come out the other end in a powerslide, is the real revelation here. The car feels far more agile than you’d think something that weighs more than two tonnes can be. When switched on, the e-shift cuts the peak power slightly, and you can feel the acceleration start to wane. 

When you do hit one of the paddles on the steering wheel, the shift isn’t instantaneous and the system can be reluctant to ‘change down’ (as it were), even when your ear suggests it’s the right moment to do so. We say ear because there’s no ‘rev’ counter or gear indicators to rely on, but that’s just one area for potential improvement if Hyundai plans to bring this tech to market.

We hope it does though, as the concept behind it is interesting, and you do feel more involved in the RN22e compared to some of the other high-performance EVs we’ve tested. The concept shows what Hyundai N can do when given an EV to work with, and it gets us excited about the Ioniq 5 N’s 2023 arrival. Not to mention, the possibility of a hot Ioniq 6 that could take on the BMW i4 M50 and Tesla Model 3 Performance, if given the greenlight.

Future Hyundai EV plans

The Ioniq 6 will be the Ioniq sub-brand’s 'halo' product until the larger Ioniq 7 electric SUV arrives in 2024. They’re the next two models in Hyundai’s roster of 23 new battery-electric cars that it plans to launch worldwide by 2025, with at least one other being a city-car-sized electric SUV that’s set to launch in 2023.

Hyundai’s first-generation electric car, the Ioniq Electric hatchback, was first introduced in 2016, but ceased production in July 2022 and won’t be directly replaced. However, the somewhat newer Kona Electric SUV will continue to be available for the time being, alongside the more futuristic numbered Ioniq models.

Hyundai is also working on a number of hydrogen-powered projects, including a high-performance fuel-cell car previewed by the Vision FK prototype and the N Vision 74 concept we've also driven. Both produce over 670bhp and can cover over 370 miles before requiring a top up, and even then it takes just five minutes to fill their hydrogen fuel tanks.

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