VANCOUVER, BC – While Tesla has been resting on its many laurels, the competition has been hard at work. At the head of the pack of newcomers to the electric vehicle game is the Hyundai/Kia conglomerate.
Thousands of engineers and scientists have been at work at the various company sites around the world dedicated to design and technical leadership, specifically to pure electric vehicles.
These are the same companies that earned a reputation for poor quality and reliability, with initial efforts like the Pony and Excel.
Hyundai and Kia designers and engineers hard at work
A relentless push for improvement, however, has seen Hyundai (and Kia) products go from that stage to industry leadership in initial quality, then reliability and most recently resale and retained value. These last awards are the most significant. Hyundai and Kia products are worth more on the used car market than the competition – consumers prefer a used Hyundai or Kia over others.
The next step in that evolutionary ladder is leadership and recognition in electric vehicles. Starting with a dedicated platform, adding leading-edge battery technology and wrapping it in highly-styled bodies has placed the companies at the head of the pack.
Hyundai’s Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) accommodates single or multiple electric motors. The best-in-class 800-volt/350 kW system allows you to charge the batteries from 10 – 80% and get 320 kilometres of range in as little as 15 minutes – if you can find the appropriate charging station.
Just one look at the new IONIQ 6 and all other electric, and non-electric vehicles for that matter, are boring!
This sleek rocket on wheels is the second Hyundai built on the E-GMP platform. The first is its sibling the crossover-like IONIQ 5. Hyundai plans to produce 17 pure electric vehicles by 2030.
I had the opportunity to drive the 2023 IONIQ 6 here at the national introduction.
The first thing you notice is the appearance. This is a stunning vehicle in the flesh with unfamiliar lines that draw attention everywhere you go – while moving or when stopped. It has already won design awards globally. In this age of crossovers, a curved aerodynamic profile is a pleasant diversion.
The clean shape of the IONIQ 6 is a clear departure from its IONIQ 5 stablemate, particularly from the rear where it slopes downward. This comes at the cost of trunk or cargo space which is limited.
The two share the same architecture, and fast-charging 800-volt system. There are three versions of the IONIQ 6:
- Rear wheel drive, 18-inch wheels, 168-kw motor, 77.4 kw battery, 220-horsepower, 258 lb.ft. of torque, and 581-km of range ($54,999);
- All-wheel-drive, 18-in wheels, 74 and 165 kw motors, 77.4 kw battery, 320 horsepower and 446 lb.ft. of torque, and 509 km range ($57,999)
- AWD with 20-in wheels same motors and battery, and 435 km of range ($63,999).
The RWD model has an electric motor at the rear driving the rear wheels and the AWD models have two motors, one at each end.
Natural Resources Canada has just named the RWD IONIQ 6 the most efficient vehicle in its class.
Because of its more aerodynamic shape, it bests the IONIQ 5.
Wheels play a significant role in range because of the added rolling resistance. The various models also differ in content, but all are extremely well equipped.
The $54,999 starting price is critical because it brings the IONIQ 6 under the federal cap of $55,000, triggering a $5,000 rebate. That also applies to trim levels starting at less than $65,000. Nova Scotia will kick in an additional $3,000 to all versions of the IONIQ 6.
Inside the IONIQ 6 – a modern, minimalist looker
As you approach, the door handles spring free from their flush mount inviting access. Once inside, you have to stop and stare at the simplicity of the ultra-modern and minimalist design.
From the clean, uninterrupted door panels to the vast twin information screens, this is a looker.
Then, whether in front or rear seat, you suddenly notice the amount of space – that of a vehicle that casts a much larger shadow. With no need for a transmission tunnel or provision for a driveshaft, the floor is perfectly flat, adding to the spacious ambiance.
Push the start button and the electric experience begins – with absolute silence. Engage drive and carefully apply pressure to the accelerator. I say carefully, because electric motors generate maximum torque from idle. Remember, torque is what dictates acceleration. Horsepower determines top speed.
The IONIQ 6 accelerates with muscle car-like performance.
One hundred km/h comes up in less than five seconds and passing merely requires the thought! Otherwise it drives much like a ‘regular’ car.
The low placement of the battery pack brings a low centre of gravity and resultant agility. The suspension soaks up all but the worst road rash and the steering is light yet progressive.
Braking is actually fun because of the ability to tap into the regenerative function. Without touching the pedal, when you let off the accelerator, you can set the amount of braking that occurs from barely any, just like a conventional fuel-powered vehicle, to full one pedal driving. You may never have to touch the brake pedal.
One cute example of the styling that appears everywhere – the brake pedal is marked with a minus (-) sign and the accelerator with a plus (+).
Even the most powerful, yet least efficient version will go for more than 400 km before needed a ‘fix’. You won’t find a 350 kW DC ultra-fast charger in Nova Scotia, but there are plenty of Level 2 and 3 chargers scattered around the province. You can also use a 110-volt household outlet or have a 220-volt version installed.
Charging from 10% to 80% will take 73 minutes on a 50 kW DC charger, seven hours on a 220-volt Level 2 charger will top it up to 100%.
Hyundai continues to blaze the electric trail.
So far in 2023, Hyundai’s electric vehicle sales account for 35.8% of the total compared to 13.4% for the industry. It started with the crossover-like IONIQ 5, and continues with the sleek IONIQ 6. Next up? The large IONIQ 7 crossover.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 Preferred AWD with Ultimate package
As tested: $65,924 including freight
Forward collision avoidance assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, rear and blind spot collision avoidance assist, highway driving assist, automatic LED headlights with high beam assist, lane keep and follow assist, automatic high beams,
Heated power folding mirrors, blind spot view in dash, artificial leather seating, eight-way power driver and passenger seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, eight-speaker Bose audio system, heads up display, wireless phone charging, dual zone automatic climate control, heat pump and battery heating system, heated tilt & telescope steering wheel, smart cruise control, power sunroof, hands-free power trunk release, remote smart parking assist
Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW) with Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA), Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Highway Drive Assist (HDA), Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go, power flush door handles, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with interactive pixel lights, 31-cm LCD instrument cluster display, 31-cm infotainment screen with navigation, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, multiple USB (Type-A and C) outlets, three years of Bluelink Connected Car Services and Over-the-Air update capability.
Rear wheel drive with single 168 kW rear-mounted permanent-magnet synchronous AC motor powered by a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. 220 horsepower, 258 lb. ft. of torque. All-wheel-drive with 74, and 165 kW motors powered by same battery pack, 320-horsepower and 446 lb.ft. of torque.
Length, 4,855 mm; width, 1,880 mm; wheelbase, 2,950 mm
BMW i4, Ford Mustang Mach E, Mercedes EQE, Polestar 2, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID4.