You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to know that, for the past few years, automakers the world over have been working on expanding their clean energy options. The internal combustion engine is still alive and kicking for now, but consumers are getting more climate-conscious, fossil fuels aren’t exactly the most stable commodity, and governments around the world are phasing out sales of gas-powered cars. The switch to electric vehicles isn’t just a thing that’s coming in the future anymore; it’s already arrived at your local Hyundai dealership.
Like other automakers, Hyundai has come out with several hybrid and electric versions of existing nameplates, like the Elantra Hybrid, Tucson Plug-in Hybrid, and Kona Electric. But the company has also gotten more experimental with its Ioniq family of vehicles, which are designed from the ground up for electricity. So far, we’ve seen the release of the Ioniq 5, a compact crossover SUV, and the Ioniq 6, a midsize sedan, with the Ioniq 7 (a midsize crossover with three rows of seating) expected to be released for the 2024 model year.
Since the Ioniq lineup is essentially starting from scratch rather than trying to capture the design essence of an already beloved model like the Tucson or Elantra, Hyundai has more freedom to experiment with bold design choices. Inside and out, the styling of these vehicles is meant to reflect the cutting-edge nature of the technology that powers them. But is this look really a step into the future or just a gimmick that we’ll look back on with a laugh a decade from now? Let’s take a deep dive into the Ioniq lineup’s style and whether it’s revolutionary or ridiculous.
Ioniq 5: An Original Style Is Born
When the 2022 Ioniq 5 first hit the scene, the automotive world had plenty to discuss. It’s certainly a testament to the popularity of the compact crossover segment that Hyundai decided to begin its Ioniq lineup with an SUV bodystyle, even though smaller vehicles are easier to make into EVs. The Ioniq 5 debuted with impressive charging speed (it can charge from 10% to 80% in under 20 minutes with a 350 kW DC fast charger) and a driving range of up to 488 kilometres. Most notably, all those features are wrapped up in a package that looks like nothing else on the road.
The Ioniq 5’s body shape is a unique blend of rounded edges and sharp lines, creating a bold look that feels intense and yet is distinctly aerodynamic. As we’ve mentioned, the compact crossover is a highly popular body style these days, and it can be difficult to stand out in such a crowded field. But from just about any angle, whether in profile, head-on, or from behind, the Ioniq 5 is distinct at a glance.
Rather than going for a round shape, both the headlights and taillights are distinctly rectangular. The headlights have some interesting nested rectangles, with the daytime running lights wrapping around the brighter nighttime headlights, giving the design more depth and complexity. The taillights wrap around the entire width of the tailgate and are distinctly pixelated, which makes the car feel like something out of a video game. Both are LEDs, so they’re bright and functional in addition to being stylish.
The wheels have a unique fractal design that’s certainly eye-catching. Folding in toward the center, it’s a bit of an optical illusion, making it seem like the wheel is a black hole rather than a flat disc. This effect is lost when the vehicle is in motion or seen from any reasonable distance away, but up close, it’s definitely a highlight of the exterior design.
The dashboard of the Ioniq 5 features a large touchscreen display as well as a fully digital instrument cluster, giving features like navigation and driver-assistance technology plenty of screen real estate to work with. In fact, the screen is so big that it allows you to view multiple camera angles simultaneously in a split-screen view, which can come in handy when parking in tight spaces. While the Ioniq isn’t the only vehicle to offer a digital instrument cluster instead of analog dials, it does forgo the traditional hooded binnacle in favour of upright panels that make the cabin feel open and futuristic. If the two screens aren’t enough, there is also an augmented reality head-up display that projects information directly onto the windshield.
Rounding out the look of the cabin is a steering wheel with a shape that feels sporty and minimalistic but still has plenty of built-in controls that make it easy to use the car’s various functions without taking your eyes off the road. At night, you can turn on ambient interior lighting to make the cabin glow in 64 different colours. On top of just feeling cool and sci-fi, this also gives you a chance to mix up the colour scheme as often as you like to suit your mood.
Ioniq 6: A Sedan Hits the Scene
For the 2023 model year, Hyundai introduced the second model in its new EV lineup: the Ioniq 6. It shares many of the same features as the Ioniq 5, including the pixelated wrap-around taillights and the open interior with customizable mood lighting, giving the Ioniq family a cohesive look and feel. However, the sedan also brings some new stylistic touches to the table. The pixelated lights are expanded to include additional lights around the vehicle. A more compact option, the Ioniq 6 has a lower profile than the Ioniq 5. Its body feels even more sleek and aerodynamic, with plenty of smooth curves instead of the more angular creases of the Ioniq 5.
Ioniq 7: What We Know So Far
The third entry in the lineup is set to debut for the 2024 model year. It’s already been announced that the Ioniq 7 will be an electric SUV that’s larger than the Ioniq 5, with an extremely roomy interior due to its unique flat floor. Not all of the details have been released yet, and things might change from the concept vehicles that have been shown to the public, but we can still explore what we know so far and what we might be getting in the next installment of the Ioniq lineup.
Photos released by Hyundai show that the automaker is doubling down on the pixelated lighting aesthetic. The entire grille is a grid of small squares, and it is paired with a slim wrap-around lightbar similar to the taillights of the Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6. If Hyundai sticks with this concept, it would certainly make the Ioniq 7 stand out from other SUVs on the road and further the design language it has already established for the Ioniq brand.
Inside, the concept car eschews a traditional vehicle layout to experiment with a more fluid and configurable seating arrangement. The comfortable-looking lounge chairs in the middle row can swivel, while the third row is a curved bench. On the ceiling is an OLED screen that can display content or just set the ambiance with extra mood lighting. This extreme departure from the norm isn’t likely to make it into mass production, but if even a few elements from this concept are available on a top trim level of the Ioniq 7, it will certainly be an interior design worth talking about. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Our Overall Impression
While Hyundai is certainly taking its Ioniq lineup in a bold direction, we don’t think it’s gone overboard with its ambitious concepts. Many of the novel stylistic features also have practical functions, like the sleek aerodynamic body shapes and large, easy-to-see screens. We’re excited to see how the brand continues to experiment with its electric vehicles and what futuristic design features it will think up next.