2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6

  • April 18, 2024

How’d you like to own a Mercedes EQE for half as much as Mercedes wants for an EQE – the company’s mid-sized electric sedan?

Well, you might have a look at the 2024 Hyundai Ioniq 6 sedan.

It looks so much like an EQE – especially from the sides and rear-quarter – it could easily be mistaken for an EQE.

But it more than just looks.

In the past, brands like Hyundai would sometimes style their models to look like the high-priced models made by luxury brands. It’s a tradition dating back to the affixing of a Rolls Royce nose onto the front end of a VW Beetle. But the high-priced models usually offered more than just looks; you also got mechanicals such as V8 (and even V12) engines that the lower-cost models didn’t offer, as well as rear-drive vs. front-drive.

But EVs are electric – and pretty much all the same. A battery pack and an electric motor (sometimes, two). Put another way, there’s really not that much difference anymore between a luxury-priced EV such as the Mercedes EQE and much-less-pricey EVs such as the Ioniq 6.

Especially when they look so similar that it’s hard to tell the difference.

What It Is

The Ioniq 6 is Hyundai’s mid-sized electric hatchback’d sedan. It’s about the same size as a Mercedes EQE sedan but it costs about half as much to start.

Base price is $37,500 for the rear-drive model with a single electric motor and 240 miles of fully charged range. As compared with the $74,900 that Mercedes asks for the base trim EQE with 260 miles of range.

The Mercedes does offer more range (and power) optionally. So does the Hyundai. Just for a lot less.

The $42,500 SE has a more powerful battery and 361 miles of range if you go with the single motor and rear-drive layout. You can opt for more power and add a motor to drive the front wheels as well and still get 316 miles of range.

For just shy of half as much as Mercedes asks for the base-price EQE 350 with 260 miles of range and less power.

What’s New For 2024

The Ioniq 6 came out last year as a brand-new model so the changes for 2024 are minimal.

What’s Good 

It looks like a Mercedes EQE.

It functions like a Mercedes EQE.

It costs half as much as a Mercedes EQE.

What’s Not So Good

Like other EVs, it doesn’t go as far as advertised if your driving isn’t mostly “city” driving.

As with other EVs, you have to think a lot about charging it.

Not much different than other EVs – as they’re all pretty much the same.

Under The Hood

It’s more like what’s under the shell – when it comes to EVs. And all of them have more or less the same things under their shells. There’s a battery pack and – depending on the model – either one or two electric motors.

The base SE Standard Range trim comes with a 53 kWh battery a single electric motor driving the rear wheels. This combo offers a modest 149 horsepower and 240 miles of fully charged driving range. You can recharge it at home in about six hours, if you have upgraded your home’s electrical panel to accommodate a “Level II” (240 volt) outlet with its own dedicated 30 amp circuit. It can also be charged using an ordinary household outlet but this takes much longer. The third option is a high-voltage public “Level III” fast charger, which can get you back to about 80 percent charge after about 30 minutes.

SE, SEL and Limited trims come standard with a more powerful 77.4 kWh battery and 225 horsepower for the rear-drive/single motor versions. You can opt for an additional motor (to drive the front wheels) and this boosts the Ioniq’s available output to 320 horsepower.

This, interestingly, is significantly more power than you’d get in a dual-motor Mercedes EQE 350, which only offers 288 horsepower and only goes 260 miles when fully charged.

Mercedes does offer a more powerful battery/motor combo that generates 402 horsepower in the EQE 500 – but it doesn’t go as far (298 miles, fully charged) and it costs more than twice as much ($85,900).

Another point of comparison is the Tesla Model 3, which is a smaller (compact-sized) car as well as a more expensive car, with a base price of $38,990. It goes a little bit farther (272 miles) with its standard-range battery. But whether the 32 mile difference constitutes a meaningful difference is something you’ll have to decide.

A more relevant difference, arguably, is the price difference between a Tesla 3 with optional “long range” battery – which stickers for $45,990 and goes 341 miles on a full charge – vs. the Ioniq SE with its longer range (361 mile) battery that costs about $3,500 less. That latter is not just money in the pocket. It’s also money you can spend to have your home’s electric panel upgraded to accommodate a “Level II” charging circuit and pay for probably a year’s worth of electricity, too.

On the Road

The Ioniq 6 drives just like a Mercedes EQE and both drive a lot like a Tesla. This ought to be no more surprising than the not-much-different operating characteristics of a DeWalt vs. a Makita battery-powered drill. It’s hard to impart much difference in things that are so fundamentally similar.

You push the on button (EVs do not start) and push down on what is no longer the gas pedal. The vehicle accelerates smoothly and silently. Like other EVs, the Ioniq 6 responds immediately and forcefully to downward pressure on the accelerator; this is a function of the immediately available torque produced by electric motors that is applied directly to the driven wheels, there being no transmission in between. Also no shifting as you accelerate. The speed just builds until you ease off the accelerator.

You can dial up more acceleration by depressing the conveniently mounted (on the lower left of the steering wheel) button that allows you to select from Normal, ECO and Sport settings. The button is right where it needs to be to allow for quick toggling from one mode to the other – as for example from Normal to Sport when you need to call up maximum power to make a quick pass. Another well-situated (and well-designed) control input is the windshield wiper stalk-like range selector. Not how far you can go but how you engage Drive and Reverse. Roll it toward you for Reverse and forward to get Drive. For Park, just push the button on top of the stalk.

It’s all very easy-to-use and makes driving this electric Hyundai a non-frustrating experience and much more straightforward than dealing with a Tesla’s center-mounted LCD touchscreen.

But you will probably experience what I did if you drive the Ioniq 6 faster than 60 MPH consistently, especially if the AC’s running.

Just like every other EVs I have test driven – which is most of them – you’re apt to experience a roughly 20 percent difference between the indicated range remaining and how far you can actually drive before you run out of charge. Use of the AC on a hot day triggered an immediate adjustment of the indicated range remaining by about 8 miles. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider that haven’t got much to begin with, it’s a significant loss.

On the other hand, it is possible to exceed the indicated range remaining in low-speed, stop-and-go “city” driving, which is the kind of driving most favorable to an EV because you’re not moving as much – and moving more slowly. If EV manufactures could focus on maximizing efficiency in “city” driving – and forget about trying to also manufacture EVs that can sustain highway speeds for hours – it would be easy to manufacture a “city” EV that cost half or less what the Ioniq 6 costs that would be practical as well as affordable for people who do most of their driving in the city.

At The Curb

The most striking thing about the Ioniq 6 is how closely it resembles the twice-as-much Mercedes EQE. If the two were parked curbside and you viewed them from the side, you’d be hard pressed to say which was which from 20 yards out. Part of this is due to the necessity of making EVs as aerodynamically slippery as possible, in order to help extend their range (especially at highway speeds) as much as possible. But the similarities here are so close it’s difficult to imagine there wasn’t also some emulation involved.

And – if so – that was really smart of Hyundai.

Just as it was smart of Toyota – back in the late 1980s – when it styled its Toyotas to look like Mercedes. These were marketed under the Lexus brand – and that really dug into Mercedes’ sales.

This may do the same – and (again) not just because the Ioniq does a fine visual impression of a Mercedes EQE but because it may as well be a Mercedes, for all the difference there is. The latter has a huge plastic three-pointed “Mercedes” star affixed to its front end. That and the price constitute the major meaningful differences.

Wait. There is one meaningful difference.

One that’s very much in the Ioniq’s favor. It is that it’s a hatchback sedan. The EQE looks much the same but isn’t. It has a 15 cubic foot trunk. The Hyundai has about the same advertised space but it’s much more usable space because of the hatchback layout, which provides access to the entire interior of the car. Interestingly, the even-more-expensive Mercedes EQS – which looks like a larger EQE – is a hatchback. But if you want a “Mercedes” hatchback’d EV, the starting price is $104,400.

For that, you could buy three Ioniqs. Keep one (or two) hooked up to the charger while you drive one of the other ones.

Of course, you won’t get the plastic three pointed star – if that matters to you.

The Rest

One of the features this EV has that many others don’t is a more efficient heating system – for the cabin. Rather than a system that’s similar to the electric baseboard heaters found in many homes that burn a lot of electricity to warm the place up, the Ioniq has a heat pump system that doesn’t burn through as much charge (and so, range) which means you don’t have to choose between getting there and staying warm on the way there.

However, using the heater will nonetheless reduce your range because using the heater in a battery powered vehicle still burns power. Just a bit less in this case.

A feature this EV doesn’t have that it probably ought to is a “fuel” door that’s mounted up front – so you don’t have to back-up to be close enough for the cord to reach the plug.

Be aware that if you choose the SEL or Limited trims, you’ll get taller 20 inch wheels – and a bit less range (305 miles for the rear drive version, 270 for those with AWD) due to the increased weight and rolling resistance.

The Bottom Line

It not only looks a lot like a Mercedes – it is a lot like a Mercedes. And in many ways, it’s better than the Mercedes it looks like.

For a lot less money.

. . .

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