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So... why isn't the 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 6 a liftback or hatch?

It looks like it should have a liftback tailgate or hatch, right? Well, it's a sedan - like it, or not!

There are arguably lots of questions about the design of the Hyundai Ioniq 6 - but the biggest one seems to be why it's a sedan and not a liftback or hatchback.

The answer, according to Hyundai head of style, Simon Loasby, is quite simple. It didn't work.

"When we had hinges in the rear of the roof we were losing so much headroom, and we didn't want to compromise on that. It's a balance between the elements there," Mr Loasby told Aussie media at the launch of the Ioniq 6 in Korea recently.

"We needed such a streamlined shape - if we go so high, we can't detach the flow in the right place that gives the range through the aerodynamics," he said.

"So as usual we were balancing between these functions and attributes, and we prioritised streamlined [body shape], drag coefficient, so that's what we did."

Another consideration for that headroom and interior space - in light of the swooping roof line - was whether or not to include a solar-panel roof option, as is available on the Ioniq 5 SUV in some markets. The brand decided - despite the "solar roof being a very popular item for the Ioniq 5", that the limitations it would place on interior space were too great, so it won't be offered on this model.

The brand insists on labelling this car - which has four doors, a bonnet and a boot, just like a sedan - an “Electrified Streamliner”.

You can bet your last buck that the Ioniq 7 SUV - a bigger, flat-roof, three-row model due to be unveiled in 2024 - will come with a solar roof option that will likely offer even better recharge rates than the Ioniq 5's solar panel turret module.

Mr Loasby said the fact this Ioniq model is so different means it gave the global design teams an opportunity to think differently about what the aim.

"It's a lot of fun, and it's scary as hell, because we've never done a car like this before. You're dealing with volumes and proportions and aesthetics which you've never done before," he said.

Just don't call it a sedan. The brand insists on labelling this car - which has four doors, a bonnet and a boot, just like a sedan - an "Electrified Streamliner". Whatever descriptor you choose, Mr Loasby said the design has many different inspirations.

"We were inspired by anything streamlined. Take a Peregrine Falcon - look at the shape of that bird when it's in a dive, 320km/h that bird will do in a dive. If you look at the shape of that, the curvature, we're learning out of nature," he said.

It’s hard not to see some Porsche 911 influence in the rear light design.

"When we started, 38 months ago, with a blank sheet of paper, we had a creative brainstorm with our leaders in our design studios around the world - I had a stack of A4 paper printouts. It went through plane design, train design, speed record car design, nature - I said 'if we're going to epitomise efficiency, we need to have functional efficiency because it gets us range, and emotional efficiency because it attracts people to us and it's memorable'."

Mr Loasby explained that the blank-sheet approach then led to the very similar Prophecy concept car in 2020, before eventually leading to the final design of the Ioniq 6.

There are a number of iconic cars that also fed in to the finished product - it's hard not to see some Porsche 911 influence in the rear light design, for instance. Mr Loasby said the 'streamline' theme is a common one that re-emerges constantly.

"A couple of companies have done 'streamlining' and it comes back again and again, and we thought - it's a bit mischievous - we use a design direction, a momentum, that predates the company. And we take that, and we use that ... it keeps cropping up, spanning over the decades," he said.

"It makes me smile. We've not done it before, and probably nobody has done it before in this way, at this price point, and now 38 months later we present it here. It's great."

Matt Campbell
Managing Editor - Head of Video
Matt Campbell has been at the forefront of automotive media for more than a decade, working not only on car reviews and news, but also helping manage automotive outputs across...
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