In 2020, Hyundai Motor Group unveiled the Prophecy concept EV which everyone immediately noticed had embraced an alternative, almost opposite, design language from the angular 45 concept. The latter model went on to serve as the blueprint for the Ioniq 5, whereas the Prophecy has morphed into the Ioniq 6 you see before you.
While much of the original design has been retained, a lot of the best stuff went out the window because this is to be a mainstream car. The Prophecy was a simple and curvaceous automobile that rightfully won loads of design awards. It reminded me of the Phantom Corsair, Jaguar D-Type, or Porsche 356 Speedster — classic sporting designs with a unique flair that even people who don’t give a whiff about cars can appreciate. But the resulting production model from Hyundai Motor Group seems to be lacking those qualities. Despite Hyundai Motor Group delivering some of the industry’s best-looking cars over the last few years, the Ioniq 6 may be a narrow miss.
You can still see the influence of the Prophecy concept (pictured below), it’s just that the execution doesn’t seem to have gone exactly to plan. Rather than harkening back to the fundamentals of automotive design, the Ioniq 6 looks to have embraced the egg-shaped fad that reared its head during the late 1990s. It’s less 1954 Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta and more 2003 Citroën C3 Pluriel. Though that comparison might be a little too cruel considering the Korean Ioniq is much nicer to behold than the French Pluriel.
Riding on the E-GMP dedicated electric platform used for the current roster of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis EVs, the Ioniq 6 has a lot of interesting touches. While the company claimed it’s supposed to harken back to vehicles from the 1930s (something the Prophecy accomplished perfectly), the production model appears to be a bizarre marriage of the Porsche and Tesla design languages after they’ve been pushed out of a bird’s cloaca. But the individual components are quite interesting and totally inoffensive when viewed singularly. It’s only when viewed as a whole and compared against the Prophecy that the Ioniq 6 begins to let you down. Sadly, the phenomenally high bar set by the concept seems to have been undermined by all the concessions made to deliver a production-ready automobile.
That said, the interior looks to be simple and elegant without going overboard. We always prefer switches and knobs, which are easier to use while driving. But Hyundai said it tried to find an appropriate balance on the 6. The industry wants to move toward touch screens because they’re becoming cheaper to install and encourage motorists to spend time interfacing with the car. That means more opportunities for data harvesting and possible avenues for new features. But cars that have abandoned physical controls entirely haven’t gotten favorable reviews from journalists and it’s nice to see the company taking that into consideration. The automaker likewise said that the sloped roofline won’t intrude into the headspace of rear occupants — another trend where style has often trumped practicality.
Apparently focusing on the fundamentals is also what gave the Ioniq 6 its egg-like shape. The car’s drag coefficient is a stunningly lean 0.21 and something the company should absolutely be bragging about to help rationalize the bodywork. As an all-electric vehicle, efficiency should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind and the shape will likely go a long way when it’s cutting through the air better than a Toyota Prius.
Another aspect you rarely see is the cooperate badging being removed from the steering wheel to make room for useful indicator lights. This is a move so classy that I almost want to recommend the car on principle. Throwing some brand identification on the steering wheel is something we’ve accepted because it’s become commonplace. But, when you actually think about it, it’s kind of insane to continue advertising to the driver after they’ve presumably seen all the identifying marks on the exterior, dancing across the infotainment screen, and hovering over the dealership where they bought it.
The interior mood lighting is also a big deal for Hyundai and clearly something they’ve clearly put a lot of thought into. Ditto for the running-lamp LEDs that sit below the headlamps and the paired elongated lightbars along the back. Real effort looks to have been made to craft something unique and gorgeous.
It just wasn’t possible to do the low-slung Prophecy concept justice when the end product had to be a versatile and practical electric sedan focused heavily on maximizing efficiency. The Ioniq 6 may end up being Hyundai Motor Group’s best EV on paper, even if it doesn’t look nearly as good as those initial design drafts suggested — and the manufacturer seems to be totally aware of this based on some of the statements made during its debut.
“IONIQ 6 connects an emotional convergence of functionality with aesthetics,” said SangYup Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Hyundai Design Center. “The distinctive streamlined design is the result of close cooperation between engineers and designers, with obsessive attention to detail and customer-centric values at the core. We have created the IONIQ 6 as a mindful cocoon that offers personalized place for all.”
Production will start in 2023 for the United States, and the Ioniq 6 will be a 2024 model-year vehicle here — likely without the camera-based side mirrors. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays on the market and to learn more about its mechanical makeup.
The model appears to take its role as an efficient, all-electric vehicle seriously (especially compared to something like GMC’s upcoming Hummer EV) while also attempting to balance modern-day trends with the kind of things consumers actually want on their cars. But that styling may not be for everyone, especially if they were already aware of the concept vehicle it was based upon. Then again, smart shoppers know that looks aren’t everything. The Toyota Prius has rarely been what we’d consider an attractive automobile, though this never seemed to negatively impact its sales (maybe on Gen 4) or the fact that it was typically a solid car that delivered on its promise of maximizing efficiency.
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