From £47,0407

Hyundai looks to upset Tesla’s apple cart with a boldly alternative streamliner saloon

Find Hyundai Ioniq 6 deals
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
New car deals
From £47,040
Nearly-new car deals
From £30,777
Sell your car
In partnership with
Powered by

Even though the Hyundai Ioniq 5 crossover wasn’t the brand’s first EV when it came along in 2021, it felt like a watershed moment for a car maker whose stock continues to rise today.

It showed that this Korean firm was ready to throw off the shackles of its old budget-brand reputation and to use electrification as an opportunity to recast its public image as a maker of genuinely distinctive, future-facing cars.

Contrast-coloured sills and bumpers are a well-known trick to take visual bulk out of a car’s look, but some of the Ioniq 6’s exterior trim is translucent in places ‘to invite curiosity’.

Now, that effort finds another gear. After Ioniq 5 comes Hyundai Ioniq 6: in one sense, Hyundai’s reply to the popular Tesla Model 3 – and just the kind of car you would expect it to make. But in another sense, a wide-eyed reimagining of the traditional mid-sized saloon concept, and a car designed not only to stand out from its rivals, but also for greater aerodynamic and energy efficiency, and greater associated range, than so many of them.

Hyundai describes this as a modern ‘streamliner’: a low-cut, super-sleek four-door of short-snouted, long-tail proportions that wouldn’t have been contemplated on any executive car 20 years ago. Those proportions, and its general silhouette, have delivered an ultra-low drag coefficient for the Ioniq 6, in a cabin that seats up to five occupants and that benefits from various other practicality gains courtesy of Hyundai/Kia’s clever E-GMP vehicle architecture.

Back to top

Time to find out exactly what that aerodynamic design is worth, then – and whether the executive saloon segment has a new leading protagonist in its midst.


Range at a glance

Hyundai will stick with a two-tier derivative range once the Ioniq 6 is established and sales of the limited-run First Edition are done and dusted.

Both single-motor RWD models and twin-motor AWDs can be had in either Premium or Ultimate trim. The latter gets flush door handles, upgraded front seats, leather-faced upholstery, a tilt-and-slide sunroof, all-round parking cameras, premium audio and a head-up display, as well as Premium-level equipment.

The camera-based digital side mirror system is a de-facto option package on Ultimate cars only.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 RWD Premium*225bhp
Hyundai Ioniq 6 AWD Premium321bhp

*Version tested


1-spd reduction gear 


02 Hyundai Ioniq 6 RT 2023 front cornering

The design of this week’s road test subject is not only aerodynamic but also fantastic at disguising its size. The Ioniq 6 is both wider and taller than the outgoing BMW 5 Series (albeit a little shorter at the kerb) but, because of the way the bodywork swoops and wraps around the car with such tension and sleekness, you simply don’t take it for something so big.

The Ioniq 6 has a curiously short front nose and overhang, but also a long, drag-reducing tail, shaped like a teardrop. It has the look of an experimental prototype that has escaped into series production. The car appears a lot lower and sleeker than it actually is, with Hyundai using big, contrast-coloured sills and bumpers to fool the eye.

A full-width LED light bar sits below the ducktail spoiler with a high-level brake light, for a really unusual appearance at the rear that is retro in one sense but modern in its decoration.

Whatever the route taken to achieve it, this is certainly a car to notice. Hyundai calls it “a bridge to the future of electric mobility”, and the styling philosophy that has fathered it “optimistic futurism”. It brings to mind the mood that Mercedes is seeking to conjure with its EQ-branded EVs – though not succeeding at quite so well. There’s less amorphous anonymity here than those Mercs have somehow, and more visual intrigue.

So what’s the functional gain? Active aerodynamic shutters and air-vectoring wheel-arch curtains contribute to a drag coefficient of just 0.21. Benz hit 0.20 with the Mercedes EQS two years ago, but a Tesla Model 3 is up at 0.23 and a normal family hatchback at around 0.27.

The entry-level car is powered by a 225bhp rear-mounted electric motor, packaged and carried neatly and efficiently within its multi-link rear axle. Front suspension is via MacPherson struts, alongside which a second motor is fitted in upper-level AWD models, which have a combined 321bhp. That’s not enough to go hunting Performance Teslas just yet – but, of course, an N-branded model could arrive later.

Energy storage is within an under-floor lithium ion battery that offers just under 77.4kWh of usable capacity: about the same as an equivalent Model 3, and more than the bottom-rung BMW i4 eDrive35.

But the Ioniq 6’s official range is 339 miles, under 10% more than an equivalent Ioniq 5 can deliver, and less than the WLTP figure of the longest-range Model 3. Might those attracted by this car’s ‘streamliner’ billing expect a bigger functional point of differentiation than that? On paper at least, we certainly did.


08 Hyundai Ioniq 6 RT 2023 dashboard

Just as in many of the coupé-aping four-doors that became popular from premium brands a decade ago, this Ioniq 6 has a sloping roof that you must guard your head quite carefully from as you enter.

Once you are in, you can’t help noticing the main packaging challenge that Hyundai has clearly had with the car. With a battery pack taking space away under the floor and effectively displacing the occupant space upwards, and the effort to keep drag to a minimum also pushing the car’s roofline downwards, available cabin space feels a little squeezed.

The Ioniq 6’s seat upholsteries, dashboard, headlining, door consoles and carpets are all at least partly made out of recycled materials. Its leather seats are dyed with flaxseed oil for less environmental impact.

A slight shortage of head room in the back of a car like this may be forgivable. But testers taller than six foot all reported being short on head room behind the wheel – some given a problem serious enough to cause neck ache over even an averagely long journey. The seat and steering column offer lots of adjustability but can’t quite mitigate how high the seats are mounted. Taller drivers will therefore be short of head room, which is an irksome failing if it affects you.

Leg room, however, is almost absurdly generous by comparison as a result of the long wheelbase, while boot space, under the large sloping saloon-style bootlid, is in fairly rich supply too. The car’s flat floor makes for plenty of storage space in the front of the cabin and useful extra leg room for any passenger travelling in the middle of row two.

Up front, the Ioniq 6’s dashboard layout is missing an identifying feature: the maker’s badge that commonly sits on any steering wheel boss. Hyundai prefers to put a row of LED lights here instead, which light up in different colours to alert the driver of various things. Just as it was on the Ioniq 5, it seems an unusual decision. Surely Hyundai should have been especially proud to have its brand identity on this car? It has certainly made a tidy effort of tactile quality – the car’s switchgear, mouldings and materials all feeling solid and moving with expensive heft.

Nestling behind that wheel is a twin-screen instrumentation-cum-infotainment flight console. Also seemingly Mercedes-inspired are multi-coloured ambient lighting features, which help to play on the space-capsule design theme.

At the lateral extremes of the fascia, meanwhile, are raised buttresses that look too large and conspicuous to be styling features. In a car with ‘digital side mirrors’, these are where the additional video screens are carried. Quite why they need to be built up like they are in cars with conventional mirrors is open to question.

Multimedia system

12 Hyundai ioniq 6 rt 2023 infotainment 0

The Ioniq 6’s 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system is the one that will be familiar to Hyundai regulars. It has no manual cursor controller, so there’s seldom an alternative to operating it with an outstretched hand. However, its menus are laid out sensibly, the screen is crisp and responds quickly, its icons are easy to hit and usability is good, aided by a few menu shortcut buttons just under the screen and a physical volume knob.

Wireless device charging is included as standard, although it’s via a slightly small pad that our phones had a habit of falling off. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone mirroring are included and integrate quite nicely with the native interface. The system comes with a three-year data connection for network navigation routing, EV route planning (which works very well) and remote control of vehicle charging through a smartphone app.



17 Hyundai Ioniq 6 RT 2023 front driving with blossoms

There’s a maturity about the Ioniq 6’s dynamic character that’s easy to like – and it comes across as soon as you start driving. While rival EVs give you sharper initial throttle response and more outright power and torque, this one has a pleasantly linear pedal calibration and – in single-motor format, at least – that little extra grunt that you tend to need in day-to-day motoring.

It was slightly damp during our track benchmarking, but at no point did the car struggle for traction, even under full power. In sprinting to 60mph from rest in a little over seven seconds, it feels swift but never excessive – just how someone who would prefer a more efficient EV to a quicker one might want it.

There’s one wheel size: a 20in rim with a 245-section, Pirelli P Zero Elect, noise-cancelling tyre. Plenty of other EVs do more to cut down on rolling resistance.

Yet it never feels short on power, or compromised by any punitive commitment to efficiency. The 50-70mph motorway-typical acceleration increment takes 3.7sec. The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus we tested in 2019 was almost a second quicker, but a BMW 320d saloon is 0.4sec slower.

Braking power in damp conditions was a little less assured, but partly as a result of the particular tyre fitment. *The Ioniq 6 should run on EV-specific Pirelli P Zero Elect tyres, but Hyundai had to fit ours with standard P Zeros on the front axle, because of the unavailability of the correct compound at the time of our test.

It needed just over 60 metres to stop from 70mph, partly the result of its two-tonne kerb weight but also of the compromised effectiveness of its anti-lock braking system, which could be expected to work notably better on the correct, factory-fit rubber with which it was tuned.

There are Hyundai’s usual paddles for toggling battery energy regeneration control, and for switching to a one-pedal driving style at one end of the calibration scale, or to trailing-throttle free-wheeling at the other. Brake pedal progression is decent whichever mode you choose, and all-round drivability is good.


19 Hyundai Ioniq 6 RT 2023 rear cornering

There’s something quite unusual about where you sit in the Ioniq 6, and how the car moves around you.

Our scales revealed a slight rearward weight distribution, but it also has a significantly longer tail than its nose and seats its driver at what feels like closer quarters to its front axle than its rear (which, for a rear-driven premium saloon, is quite unconventional).

The typical under-floor battery pack shifts weight distribution forwards somewhat, but it was still notably rear-biased on the proving ground scales (47% front, 53% rear).

You are aware of the length of the car as it changes direction, because it doesn’t have an especially ready or striking sense of directional zip or handling poise. But, ultimately, it does handle. The Ioniq 6 develops plenty of lateral grip via its generous 20in wheels and tyres, and while the rates of response of its chassis and steering aren’t those you would associate with a sports saloon, the rear-wheel-drive handling balance goes some way to compensating. There’s plenty of body control afforded by the car’s suspension, which effectively masks its two-tonne kerb weight at speed, at a cost to which we will come shortly.

The upshot in its default driving mode is a generalist car that’s versatile to drive, though only passingly rewarding or sporty. Hyundai has stopped short of fitting the skinny contact patches, soft suspension and super-low-rolling-resistance tyres that you might have expected it to, pursuing instead the rounded dynamic character of a modern premium saloon – and with some success.

There are Eco and Sport driving modes as well, although there’s no adaptive suspension or active steering here to grant additional firmness to the ride or marginal extra bite to the handling. Hyundai does include a My Mode driving program, allowing you to mix and match calibrations for the steering and motor (and, on AWD cars, the inter-axle torque distribution too).


Comfort and isolation

Comfort and refinement have often been the allies of efficiency in aerodynamic economy cars over the years, but the Ioniq 6’s relationships with both are slightly fractious.

The cramped cabin packaging significantly affects how comfortable some drivers will be and is a shortcoming Hyundai ought to address quickly – by lowering the car’s front seat mounts, if possible.

But improving the Ioniq 6’s rolling refinement is likely to be more complicated – and, as it stands, this leaves a little to be desired. There is an ever-present firmness about the car’s ride, which makes it feel very different on the road from the Ioniq 5, and notably less plush.

The suspension seems shorter of travel and less able to absorb bigger lumps and bumps on A- and B-roads, while it also tends to struggle with sharper inputs, which too often thump through into the cabin and can cause the car to fidget and toss at low speed. The higher-speed motorway ride is better: steady and fairly quiet, with our decibel meter recording a significantly lower 70mph cruising noise level than a Tesla Model 3.

The Ioniq 6 has good noise isolation at other speeds too, and if its head room shortage happens not to be a problem for you, there’s plenty of comfort to be found from the front seats. They offer lots of adjustment, as well as cleverly shaped head restraints that don’t cut into your lateral visibility too much.

All-round visibility at the wheel isn’t a particular selling point, but it’s certainly not especially poor by the standards of modern saloons.

Assisted driving notes


The Ioniq 6 comes with a generous number of active safety systems grouped under Hyundai’s Smart Sense banner. The only one that Premium trim misses out on is an enhanced collision avoidance system that intervenes to prevent low-speed parking prangs – and which our testers happily did without it in any case.

The lane departure warning system can be a little intrusive out of town but is made easy to deactivate via a button on the steering wheel that doubles as a toggle for the level-two motorway lane assist system. There’s a speed limit detection system that recognises posted limits consistently well. The speed limit alarm is quite irritating, though, and has to be deactivated each time you restart the car by diving into the touchscreen.

The AEB collision avoidance system is a bit intrusive, but only if it detects a risk of a collision at a junction, when even a moderate press on the brake pedal can trigger a full brake-assist stop – usually entirely unnecessarily.


01 Hyundai Ioniq 6 RT 2023 lead driving front

The Ioniq 6 range starts at £47,000, rising to just above £55,000 for a fully loaded dual-motor model. That is roughly middle-market value but, in a part of the EV scene that is still developing, might well be eye-catching enough to win the car some casual interest.

The Model 3, following Tesla’s price cuts earlier this year, is better value, and a Polestar 2 can also be had for less (although only with a significantly smaller drive battery). The BMW i4 eDrive35 and Volkswagen ID 7 are both likely to be more expensive.

Spec advice? If you’re taller than 6ft, avoid Ultimate trim (because the sunroof that comes with it robs what head room there is). Much of the kit you will miss out on is pretty superfluous anyway. Lighter leathers brighten the cabin usefully.

It would still be a very attractive positioning for the car, of course, if it delivered the segment-leading range its design promises. The truth is that, while the Ioniq 6’s cruising efficiency is very creditable – 25% better than we saw recently from the Mercedes EQE 350 – it only tends to deliver 250-280 real-world miles on a charge. Which is strong, especially for a sub-£50,000 EV –just not quite strong enough to make you stand back and think.

Hyundai does have 800V rapid charging to point at when building up the convenience of this car, however – and, according to our DC test results, it should be considered a powerful lure. The Ioniq 6 charges at up to 233kW, it is claimed, but the 180kW weighted average charging speed we recorded for it beats that of the considerably more expensive i7 and EQE. On a 350kW charger, 10-90% takes under 20 minutes.


24 Hyundai Ioniq 6 RT 2023 static MK ionity

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is one of those troubling cases of a good car let down in areas much greater in significance than number.

It is most impressive for being so bold. But it’s quite telling that, in going after such a slippery silhouette for this car, Hyundai clearly had to allow some packaging compromises, we would wager, to both cabin and suspension. Having allowed for them, it has ended up with a ‘streamliner’ EV with less than 10% greater range than that of the related Ioniq 5 crossover. One with nonetheless commendable autonomy and rapid-charging capability, but which suffers notably in other departments for what it delivers.

It was when trying to adjust the head-up display, which simply won’t go nearly low enough for my natural line of sight, that I wondered how a brand-new, £50,000 car can provide so poorly for taller drivers? It almost never happens these days.

We all might wish for greater rewards for a company with the boldness to commit to a car like this. But in the end, we must recognise that the Ioniq 6 is below class standards for spaciousness in key respects – and, while it performs, drives and handles quite well, it’s not as comfortable-riding as some will expect.

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 certainly has many positive aspects, and a well-targeted early facelift could cure its ergonomic issues and refine its ride. Until that happens, however, we fear it will remain a great idea in want of just the right execution.

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Hyundai Ioniq 6 First drives