Expert Reviews

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 First Drive Review

The strikingly swoopy 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 is proof that this brand hasn’t left car aficionados behind as it heads towards electrification.

Sporting a drag coefficient 0.22 and twin spoilers around back that look like they might have come from a Porsche design studio, the Ioniq 6 follows Hyundai’s popular Ioniq 5 and hits the market with the Tesla Model 3 square in its sights. When considering Tesla moved about 20,000 of its small sedans in Canada over the last year, there appears to be a healthy market for all-electric sedans like this one.

Taking on Tesla

Should Tesla be worried? In a word, yes – assuming Hyundai can supply the market. The Ioniq 6 is a supremely impressive electric vehicle (EV), and it leaves its rival in the rearview when it comes to quality, interior appointments, refinement, and ride quality. The Ioniq 6’s range is impressive, too, with the 225-hp single-motor model claiming 581 km on a single charge. Meanwhile, the dual-motor all-wheel-drive model with 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of torque has a range of 509 km with 18-inch wheels, and 435 km on 20-inch wheels, illustrating just how much additional drag design elements like larger wheels induce.

All in the Family

The Ioniq 6 sedan shares its platform, electrical components, and dash architecture with the Ioniq 5 hatchback. Despite having a wheelbase that’s 50 mm (two in) shorter, this sedan is 220 mm (8.7 in) longer overall, much of that due to its rear overhang. On our test route in and around Vancouver, the Ioniq 6 in top-tier Preferred AWD Long Range w/Ultimate Package on 20-inch alloys garnered plenty of stares and interest from those we encountered at our stopovers. It’s a daring design – long, low, and wide, with that dramatically diving rear roofline its most visually arresting feature.

Hyundai’s electric vehicles are all about the pixel design motif, and here the Ioniq 6 shows pixelated head- and tail lights, front sensors, a pixelated brake light in the spoiler, and a host of other “Easter Egg” pixels (inside as well) that add up to more than 700 in total.

Rear legroom is very generous, and there’s more of it than in the Tesla Model 3 and its other main competitor, the Polestar 2, but headroom front and rear trails both of those rivals. The Ioniq 6’s trunk takes a hit as well thanks to that sloping roofline; a paltry 316 L versus the Model 3’s 561 L and Polestar’s 405 L.

Charged Up

Like the Ioniq 5, the Ioniq 6 has a 77.4-kWh battery pack under the floor, and its 800-volt architecture will have it charged from 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes in ideal condition – if, of course, you can find a 350-kW DC fast-charger. On the more common 50-kW DC charger, it will do the deed in 73 minutes, and just over seven hours on a Level 2 charger. Like its electric Hyundai Group siblings, the Ioniq 6 has vehicle to load (V2L) functionality of 1.9 kW that enables it to power external devices.

A Joy to Drive

Driving is a highly pleasant pursuit. The front seats – which are heated and ventilated in this top trim – blend support and comfort expertly, and as we’ve come to expect from premium (EVs), silent, seamless, and swift progress is the order of the day. With 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of instantaneous torque on tap, the Ioniq 6 has all the quickness you could ever need. Sport mode gives the go-pedal more urgency. Sure, it’s not blazingly quick, but surely there will be an N version along shortly that will happily rearrange your internal organs for those who require that thrill.

The Ioniq 6 handles well, certainly helped along by its low centre of gravity. Steering is direct if a bit numb, and ride quality is very good. There’s a refinement to the underpinnings that have this four-door gliding over most surfaces unperturbed. Tuck into a corner with too much gusto, however, and the car’s weight makes itself known (as with all EVs). But away from outright hooliganism, this Hyundai is a champ, especially on the highway where it chews up the kilometres in calming comfort.

Paddle shifters on the steering wheel call up five levels of regenerative braking, with the most aggressive setting delivering true one-pedal driving.

An Upscale-ish Cabin

All the major touchpoints in the interior feel premium, but there are some hard plastics if you start looking – especially in the lower reaches of the cabin. The dash, with its interesting “winglet” design, holds the same two 12.3-inch displays as seen in the Ioniq 5, with their unique and user-friendly graphics. The Ultimate package gets speed-sensitive dual-colour speed-linked ambient lighting.

In keeping with the Hyundai ethos, we have an array of hard buttons along with analogue controls for volume and tuning. A haptic panel below controls HVAC functions. The column-mounted shift stalk with its twist function for gear selection frees up space on the centre console, under which you’ll find generous storage.

With standard Smartsense Safety, the Ioniq 6 gets all the safety systems and driver aids in the Hyundai arsenal. Also standard across the range is Highway Driving Assist 2, a semi-autonomous system that incorporates lane change assist when using the turn signal, along with auto lane centring. The system also responds to vehicles that cut in front and adjusts your position in the current lane when an adjacent vehicle drives to close.

Additionally, the adaptive cruise control learns the driving style of the two “profiles” associated with your key. Yes, those hidden computers are constantly monitoring accelerator inputs, and then applying what is gleaned to make the system feel more natural to the driver. Over the air (OTA) updates ensure the Ioniq 6 gets the latest software.

Final Thoughts

Canadian deliveries of the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 will start in early April, with the entry-level model priced at $54,999, the dual motor Preferred at $57,999, and the fully equipped Preferred Ultimate at $63,999. All prices are before freight and tax.

Of course, the big question now is, whether you can actually buy one. The Hyundai Canada brass are saying yes – if you act fast. Unlike with the Ioniq 5, where unexpected demand and too many pre-orders resulted in many frustrated customers, the automaker is avoiding that potential scenario with the Ioniq 6. That means there’s no pre-sales for this one. Hyundai Canada is expecting an allocation of about 2,500 for 2023.

The Ioniq 6 is a fabulous piece, blending eye-catching style, refined road manners, comfort, and impressive range. Its only real Achilles heel is the smallish trunk, but if you can live with that, this new EV sedan from Hyundai is the one to get.