Hyundai IONIQ 6: the hidden aero secrets that deliver big range

We break down all the tiny aerodynamic details of the all-electric IONIQ 6, and find out why Hyundai went the extra mile...

The Hyundai IONIQ 6’s low-slung four-door saloon profile feels unmistakeably unique in the world of electric cars: defying convention and bucking the current trend for large all-electric SUVs. But there’s reason behind the rhyme.

Sleek automotive design isn’t solely about style and desire (although the IONIQ 6 scores highly on that front). It’s also about aerodynamic efficiency. Less drag and reduced air resistance means more range and less time spent charging, while also helping to minimise the wind noise that could be more noticeable with the ultra-quiet accompanying soundtrack of an electric powertrain.

That’s why the IONIQ 6’s graceful, streamlined form has been defined and shaped as much by purposeful function as it has been by aesthetics. In sport, competitors often talk about marginal gains: focusing in on lots of little improvements in efficiency that soon add up to more than the sum of their parts. It’s the same in aerodynamics. Lots of fractions of drag-reducing details that all add to the whole.

Hyundai’s designers looked to some of the most streamlined shapes in automotive and aircraft history and nature for inspiration, before using high-tech supercomputers and advanced virtual wind tunnels to shape and hone every detail of their design. The result: an astonishingly low drag coefficient for the IONIQ 6 of just 0.21 and up to 338 miles of all-electric range[1].

“In the electric vehicle era, air resistance is more important than any other performance,” says MIN Byung-hoon. Hyundai’s Director of Vehicle Performance Development. “Through their collective efforts, Hyundai’s aerodynamic engineers and designers have achieved a new benchmark for Hyundai.”

We recently took the IONIQ 6 on a journey across Scotland to find out how it’s sleeker and smarter in every way, and you can see how we got on in the video at the top of this page. We've also broken down the key tech that helps the Hyundai IONIQ 6 deliver its impressive range.

Now we've taken a look under and around the carefully crafted and sculpted skin of the IONIQ 6 to explore some of its hidden aerodynamic secrets. Read on to learn more…

Learn more about the Hyundai IONIQ 6


Inspired by iconic 1930s streamliners, there's reason behind the rhyme of the Hyundai IONIQ 6's design

#1: Inspired by Scarabs and Phantoms

The Hyundai IONIQ 6’s overall profile was heavily influenced by iconic streamliner designs that came out of the 1930s: an era in which aerodynamics became the defining form for anything that moved, whether it was planes, trains or automobiles. Hyundai’s Head of Styling, Simon Loasby, cites iconic ‘streamliner’ cars such as the 1947 Stout Scarab, the Phantom Corsair and the Saab Ursaab as key influences.

“The 1930s marked the true beginning of aerodynamic design,” he says. “Taking inspiration from that era was the perfect way to create a unique sense of sustainable performance in the electric car segment. The IONIQ 6’s design started with a single curve that defines its profile and architecture: the ultimate streamlined form. ‘Electrified Streamliner’ quickly became the car’s pet name.”


The Hyundai IONIQ 6's streamlined low-slung design helps it cut through the air more efficiently

#2: Honed by Hyundai’s top fans

The Hyundai IONIQ 6’s overall silhouette may have been inspired by the heritage of 1930s streamliners, but the power of modern supercomputers means that a wealth of designs could be tested and honed to the finest detail, with faster turnaround of more ideas, helping Hyundai’s design teams find and pick exactly the right solution.

Take the IONIQ 6’s ducktail rear spoiler. Up to 70 different variants were trialled using advanced computational fluid dynamics, before being honed in a real-world wind tunnel, boasting airflow speeds of up to 122mph from a 3400hp fan.


The Hyundai IONIQ 6's ducktail spoiler design was partly inspired by the Supermarine Spitfire

#3: Look out! There’s a Spitfire on your rear

Another key aero influence was the iconic Supermarine Spitfire. The Hyundai IONIQ 6 is shaped like an airplane wing to cut smoothly through the air, and its ‘ducktail’ rear spoiler generates downforce to balance out the lift that naturally occurs in a car at motorway speeds, ensuring improved stability and increased driving confidence.

However, downforce also generates drag. So, Hyundai’s designers applied Spitfire-inspired winglets to the side of the spoiler to absorb airflow from the roof, reduce eddy currents from the side of the vehicle, and minimise vortices at the spoiler’s tip.


Up to 70 variants of the Hyundai IONIQ 6's ducktail spoiler were trialled in virtual wind tunnels

#4: Birds of a feather…

The Supermarine Spitfire isn’t the only aerobatic aviator that inspired the design of the Hyundai IONIQ 6. “We also took inspiration from nature: especially the shape that a peregrine falcon takes when it dives after prey at up to 390kph,” says Hyundai’s Head of Aerodynamic Development, Jinhyuck Chang.


As a result of its sleek design, the Hyundai IONIQ 6 has an all-electric range of up to 338 miles

#5: Hyundai’s designers got into a flap

According to Hyundai, the vents that traditionally sit at the front of a car and guide air under the bonnet to cool the engine and brakes can account for up to 20 per cent of its total air resistance. An electric car needs less cooling, so the IONIQ 6 has active air flaps on the bumper, which stay closed to streamline airflow around the front of the car, but which can open if cooling for the battery and powertrain is needed.


Front vents, wheel curtains and aero-optimised alloys start the journey of air over the Hyundai IONIQ 6

#6: It’s curtains for wheels

On an electric car, wheels are somewhat essential to the package. But as wheels are large chunky items, with spokes that rotate at high-speed, they’re one of the biggest negative influences on a car’s aerodynamics, creating a wealth of drag. So, how do you cut that, without losing the wheels themselves? It’s time to lift the curtain.

Vents around the IONIQ 6’s front bumper and wheel arch guide air round the outside of the wheels – essentially creating an air barrier (or curtain) that acts like a solid surface, guiding the air more smoothly along the IONIQ 6’s flanks.


The Hundai IONIQ 6's streamlined form has been defined by shapes from aviation and nature

#7: Mind the gaps

The large turbulence-inducing gap between a car’s wheel arch and the tyre is another enemy of efficiency. That’s why the Hyundai IONIQ 6 features wheel-gap reducers that subtly fill some of this space.

Given that the gap between the wheel arch and tyre shrinks and expands significantly as the tyre and suspension compress and expand, and as the steering is turned, keeping this gap small enough for efficient aerodynamics isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. We won’t reveal too many of Hyundai’s secrets, but you only have to look at how narrow the IONIQ 6’s wheel gap is to see that they’ve worked miracles.


The result of the Hyundai IONIQ 6's sleek design: you can go even further, even more effortlessly

#8: Staying undercover, right to the end

First impressions are everything. But sometimes you need to look under the skin to find the real secrets. That’s particularly true for the Hyundai IONIQ 6. Thanks to the simpler battery design of an electric car, there’s no transmission or exhaust to worry about. So, the IONIQ 6 boasts a flat underfloor that completely covers the underside of the car, guiding air more smoothly to the rear diffuser. Inspired by a ‘boat tail’ design, the diffuser also include separation traps that effectively ‘fill out’ the volume of the IONIQ 6’s rear: the final step in a compelling story of drag reduction.

Learn more about the Hyundai IONIQ 6

[1] Fuel economy and CO2 results for the Hyundai IONIQ 6 Premium 77 kWh 228PS RWD MY23: Maximum electric range: 338 miles. CO2 emissions: 0 g/km. These figures were obtained after the battery had been fully charged. The electric range shown was achieved using the WLTP test procedure. Figures shown are for compatibility purposes. Only compare fuel consumption, CO2 and electric range figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results, which will depend upon a number of factors including the starting charge of the battery, accessories fitted (post-registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load.

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