Kia EV6 review

The EV6 brings Kia to another level as an EV maker, thinks Jonathan Crouch

Ten Second Review

Kia is stepping up a gear in its EV offensive with this styling EV6 battery-powered mid-sized performance saloon. This car has pavement presence, the potential of a decent 316 mile driving range and an uber-sophisticated cabin which challenges the premium makers for style and quality. There's even a super high performance GT derivative. This is, in short, a car that rivals need to take very seriously indeed.

Background

So far, Korean maker Kia's offerings have been worthy, sensible, good value and, whisper it, rather dull. But that changes right here, right now with this car, the EV6. In this case, the idea is to reinterpret full-electric technology for the affordable part of the mid-sized market in a sporty, desirable fashion. Don't think e-Niro or Soul EV. Instead, think Polestar 2 or Tesla Model 3.

That's quite a challenging brief for a manufacturer not positioned as a premium brand, but Kia has gone about it with enthusiasm. The brand has developed an all-new E-GMP platform for this EV6. And readied a top EV6 GT high performance model for the very top of the range with a Porsche Taycan-like 577bhp on tap. Mainstream EV6 models will be more accessible, targeted not only at Tesla and Polestar but at sportier versions of cars like the Volkswagen ID.4 and the Skoda Enyak iV.

Driving Experience

The mainstream EV6 line-up offers a choice of two batteries and the option of either rear wheel drive or four wheel drive. Things kick off with a Standard Range 58kWh model, which uses a 168bhp rear-mounted electric motor with rear wheel drive. The 58kWh battery also comes in an AWD version which puts out 232bhp, a variant which offers 605Nm of torque and gets to 62mph in just 6.2s.

From launch, EV6 customers will be offered versions with the larger 77.4kWh battery, which can offer a 316 mile WLTP-rated range. Again, there's a choice of drivetrains - rear wheel drive with 225bhp or AWD with 321bhp. Torque for the AWD version is again rated at 605Nm, but this extra power sees the 0-62mph time fall to 5.2s. Across the range, EV6 drivers can choose from six regenerative braking levels (none, 1 to 3, 'i-PEDAL', or auto mode), depending on the desired level of energy recuperation. The system's 'i-PEDAL' driving mode also allows the car to harvest the maximum amount of energy from its brakes, and enables the driver to bring the car to a gentle halt without needing to push the brake pedal.

At the top of the line-up, an even sportier Dual Motor EV6 GT flagship performance model is being offered, developing 577bhp. Here, AWD is of course standard, rest to 62mph takes only 3.5s and there's a top speed of 162mph. handling for the GT variant has been perfected by ex-BMW M engineer Albert Biermann and his team, who worked on the much praised drive dynamics of the Kia Stinger and the Hyundai i30N.

Design and Build

The EV6 EV sports saloon was designed under the brand's new design philosophy 'Opposites United', which apparently takes inspiration from the contrasts found in nature and humanity. At the front, Kia's 'tiger face' has been re-interpreted for the digital era. Forming part of this 'Digital Tiger Face', daytime running lights display a sleek, modern appearance and include a 'sequential' dynamic light pattern. Below this, a low air intake aims to visually widen the front of the car, aiming to accentuate its intended high-tech image.

The side profile displays a crossover-inspired silhouette and a character line runs along the bottom of the doors, curving upwards towards the rear wheel arches to visually elongate the profile of the car. The rear displays a sloping C-pillar with an integrated black glossy insert which appears to extend the window glass. Above this sits a prominent wing-type roof spoiler that channels air downwards towards a raised lower spoiler, which sits atop the car's unique rear light cluster.

Inside, one of the most striking elements is a wide, seamless high-tech curved infotainment screen, which gives the interior an open feel. The 'Relaxation' seats are slim, lightweight and contemporary, and clad in modern, visually interesting and robust fabrics created using recycled plastics - equivalent to 111 plastic water bottles. Thanks to a relatively long 2,900mm wheelbase, cabin space is similar to many mid-size SUVs. There's comfortable space for two adults on the rear bench and out back, there's a decently-sized 520-litre boot, extendable to 1,300-litres with the rear backrest folded. This is supplanted by a front trunk beneath the bonnet which provides up to an additional 52-litres of stowage space for 2WD models and 20-litres for AWD models.

Market and Model

The EV6 offers buyers a choice of multiple fully-electric, zero-emission powertrain configurations, including long-range (77.4kWh) and standard-range (58.0kWh) high-voltage battery packs. In the mainstream line-up, there's a choice of standard or sporty 'GT-Line' trim and you have to stretch to the latter to get the choice of both long-range and standard-range battery packs. The top high performance EV6 GT model features the long-range battery pack only.

The EV6 prices well above the point where you'd be eligible for the government's Plug-in Car Grant. The 77.4kWh rear-driven 225bhp variant prices from around £41,000. That gets you quite a lot of kit - dual 12.3-inch curved screens, full-navigation with Kia Connect media services, full-LED headlights and lots of camera safety technology. If you can find around £44,000 for this same car with plusher 'GT-Line'-spec, you get a sportier body kit, plus suede upholstery, LED ambient lighting and power operation for the driver's seat. Opting for 'GT-Line' trim mean that you'll also have the option of an AWD 77.4kWh model, which prices at around £47,500. The top of the range trim level for the 77kWh battery is 'GT-Line S' trim, which costs just over £48,000 in rear-driven form or around £52,000 in AWD guise.

If you can stretch to the top high performance EV6 GT AWD model, you'll need to find just over £58,000, which gets you lots more equipment still. There are intelligent LED headlights, which turn with the bends. Plus through the spokes of the larger 21-inch wheels (shod with stickier Michelin performance tyres), you'll glimpse neon green brake calipers. Sporty trim features around the fascia, you get a unique sports steering wheel and a premium audio system upgrade.

Cost of Ownership

You'll want to know about range capability and the answer is that the long-range 77.4kWh version of this car can travel up to 316 miles between charges. This car's E-GMP platform allows for 800-volt capability and the EV6 accepts DC rapid charging at up to 220kWh. If you're able to charge in this fashion, your EV6 will be able to accept a 10-80% charge in just 18 minutes and 62 miles of extra range can be added in only four and a half minutes. The EV6 is also able to distribute charge to other vehicles at up to 3.6kW using it's Type 2 socket, as part of an incorporated 'vehicle-to-load V2L' function. We're not quite sure why you'd ever want to do that, but it might conceivably be useful to charge large appliances using the car's battery 'on an outdoor adventure' according to Kia.

The EV6 is fitted with energy-recuperation technologies to maximise driving range. This includes Kia's latest-generation energy-efficient heat pump, which scavenges waste heat from the car's coolant system. This ensures that at minus 7 degrees Celsius, the car can achieve 80% of the range that would be possible at 25 degrees Celsius. Also featured is the latest generation of Kia's smart regenerative braking system, which is operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel so drivers can quickly and easily slow the car and recuperate kinetic energy to maximise driving range and efficiency.

Summary

Few brands are able to satisfy both the affordable and the luxury ends of the compact-to-mid-sized EV market, but Kia is planning to be one of them. This EV6 takes the technology that impressed us with cars like the e-Niro and evolves it to a level appropriate for a customer looking for a faster, more premium kind of compact-to-mid-sized EV.

In many ways, the EV6 is the Korean brand's most accomplished car to date. In terms of quality, style and technology, it can equal anything on offer from the German premium brands, yet do so at a more affordable price. Certainly, if you were about to sign for something like a Polestar 2 or a BMW i4, the EV6 is a car you should try first. We think you'll be surprised at what you find.

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