Hyundai scored a home run with the Ioniq 5, and it’s looking to replicate that success with the new Ioniq 6. This streamlined sedan is a stark contrast to the boxy cyberpunk aesthetic of the Ioniq 5, but both ride on the same modular electric platform and share powertrains, tech features and lots of futuristic design details. After getting some time behind the wheel of an Ioniq 6 prototype in South Korea last month, there’s a lot to look forward to.
While the heavy camouflage might make this Ioniq 6 look like a rougher test mule, the car is a nearly production-level validation prototype that’s just being used for final tweaks. The interior is completely uncovered, and build quality and fit and finish are pretty stellar. This particular Ioniq 6 is a rear-wheel-drive model in the highest trim level, with a 77.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack and a single electric motor putting out about 225 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Hyundai labeled this test drive as an “energy efficiency experience,” likely to highlight the Ioniq 6’s super-low drag coefficient of 0.21, which should result in a range exceeding 350 miles, but the route amounted to about 30 minutes of driving on the nice country roads near Hyundai’s Namyang R&D center.
Despite its 20-inch wheels, the Ioniq 6’s ride quality is superb — even better than the Ioniq 5’s. The Ioniq 6 is great at soaking up big potholes and rough road surfaces, and the cabin is Mercedes S-Class-level quiet. It feels like there’s less body roll than in the Ioniq 5, too, and the steering rack is quick and direct, if a little numb. The single-motor setup feels plenty quick off the line and at passing speeds, and Hyundai’s adjustable regenerative braking offers great one-pedal driving. Overall, the Ioniq 6 has all the inherent dynamic goodness of the Ioniq 5 but with a more planted, slightly sportier character.
Later, I’m able to try out a dual-motor Ioniq 6 on Hyundai’s test track, which has the same 320 hp and 446 lb.-ft. as the Ioniq 5. Hyundai quotes a 0-to-62-mph time of 5.1 seconds for the all-wheel-drive model, though it feels even quicker than that in reality. Aside from the quicker acceleration, this more-powerful Ioniq 6 feels pretty much the same dynamically as the rear-drive model; there’s really no bad egg here. While nothing has been confirmed yet, it seems like a sure bet that an Ioniq 6 N will emerge within the next couple of years, using a 577-hp setup previewed by the RN22e concept car.
The Ioniq 6 shares much of its dashboard with the Ioniq 5, using a pair of 12.3-inch screens sitting atop some slim air vents and a digital climate control panel with only a few physical buttons. But instead of a large empty space below and a movable center console and armrest setup like on the 5, the 6 has a tall, fixed center console bridge that connects to the dash. The console has a set of cup holders, ample storage space, a wireless charging pad and enough room for a large bag underneath. Frequently touched areas like the dashboard and center console have nicely padded surfaces, and even the cheaper plastics on lower sections of the cabin have interesting graining patterns and don’t feel flimsy.
Hyundai moved the window switches and door lock buttons from the door panels to the center console, which frees up the doors to get a unique design. The armrest portion appears to float off the door panel itself, with the only adornment being a large metal speaker grille, and the main panel has a cool ribbed texture to it. Diffused ambient lighting wonderfully reflects from the doors — the main panel in one color and the lower storage pocket in another — that’s even visible in the daytime. The rear doors are slightly less cool and have their window and lock switches on them, but the rad lighting is found back there as well.
Despite the Ioniq 6’s sloping roofline there’s a lot of interior space, even in the back. At 5 feet, 9 inches tall, I have plenty of headroom, and rear legroom rivals much larger luxury sedans. The Ioniq 6’s seats are plenty comfortable, and the driver’s chair has a max recline mode that will be great for charging sessions. Hyundai is also working on a number of in-car accessories for the Ioniq 6, including a fold-out table with a bunch of USB-C ports. There’s only a small cargo space in the frunk, but there’s room for two sets of golf clubs under the traditional sedan trunk lid.
Hyundai has yet to announce pricing or specs for the US-market Ioniq 6, and obviously half an hour in the car isn’t enough to form a full opinion, but this new EV is seriously promising. It takes everything fantastic about the Ioniq 5 and puts it in a package that’s more appealing to many consumers, and the Ioniq 6 will be more efficient to boot.
2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 Prototype Hits the Road in South Korea
Editors’ note: Travel costs related to this story were covered by the manufacturer, which is common in the auto industry. The judgments and opinions of CNET Cars’ staff are our own and we do not accept paid editorial content.