Kia EV6 prototype review: sci-fi looks, real-world performance

Published:07 September 2021

Kia EV6 prototype review: sci-fi looks, real-world performance
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

Another very promising electric newcomer from Korea
► Impressive looks
► Same E-GMP skeleton as the Ioniq 5

Kia’s EV6 is striking in any context, but it looks as unreal as a spaceship against the churches and fields of Chippenham. Its bodywork gleaming in the Wiltshire sun, our prototype test car is like a visitor from a more advanced civilisation, and it’s equally futuristic under the skin. 

Underneath that striking paintwork, and behind its new ‘Digital Tiger Face’ the Kia EV6 benefits from Hyundai’s new E-GMP platform. Short for Electric Global Modular Platform, it’s to the Hyundai Motors Group what MEB is to Volkswagen, simply put; it’s the bespoke electric chassis the company is betting its future on. The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the first car to hit the market with it, but this Kia EV6 Is following closely behind.  

E-GMP like the Ioniq 5

E-GMP means the EV6 immediately has two- or four-wheel drive (the EV6 will eventually offer both) as well as 800volt fast charging. Uniquely, Kia’s car also has vehicle-to-load capability so you can charge most 230V items via the external eharging point. 

The E-GMP also comes with the usual packaging advantages you’d associate with bespoke platforms: the EV6 has the same wheelbase as a Kia Sorento SUV, but within the modest overall length of BMW’s 3-series compact saloon. 

What’s it like to drive?

As we slip along a mix of residential streets, motorways and B-roads, it’s clear the EV6’s sporty looks aren’t just for show. Behind its reworked styling language, Kia engineers have tuned the platform to give their first bespoke EV real bite. And weirdly, when compared to the aggressively styled Hyundai Ioniq 5, it’s the Kia that is the sportier of the two.

The EV6 is stiffer than the Ioniq 5, with firmer rebound damping and thicker anti-roll bars front and rear, so it’s relatively flat and squat mid-corner, even without adaptive dampers.  

The brakes cope well with having to juggle the needs of energy regeneration and stopping a 2.5-tonne skateboard, offering a welcome level of feel. The steering, however, is heavy and a touch lazy at the straight-ahead position in our development car, but good enough to give you the confidence to sling the EV6 into corners at ever-increasing speeds. ]

A 77.4kWh battery and two motors make 321bhp across both axles, though most of the work is done by the 221bhp rear motor. And that’s more than enough power to make things interesting. The 0-62mph sprint time is a lively 5.2sec, the range an impressive 314 miles. 

In Normal mode, the right pedal action is smooth in a way familiar to drivers of combustion cars, but Sport mode brings the head-jerking nappy acceleration we’ve come to expect from EVs, and marries it to an aggressive synthesised sound. It’s the mode you flick on for launching away from the lights, rather than smooth, relaxed driving. Eco mode softens response even more, though we didn’t check the actual benefit it brought to mileage. 

The Kia also allows you to select the amount of regeneration you want too; just pull the left and right pedals to increase or reduce the amount of harvesting and resistance when coasting. 

Holding down the left paddle also enables Kia’s version of a one-pedal mode. It’s fine, but not how we’d want to drive this car. 

What’s the interior like?

Inside, the Kia is refreshingly logical. Dual 12.3in screens sit above a panel that displays either heating or media controls – Kia’s solution for saving on pace and buttons, while keeping things accessible. You’ll also find physical buttons on the steering wheel, which is a welcome change.  

Early verdict

This drive in a prototype makes it clear the EV6 has serious potential. Dynamically well-mannered for a 2.5-tonne crossover, the Kia is well polished, from its intuitive, sustainable interior to its e-GMP skeleton. Add those starship looks, as well as the promise of more powerful and longer-range powertrains – including a 577bhp GT model – and it could be even better than its Ioniq 5 twin.

Specs

Price when new: £47,395
On sale in the UK: October
Engine: 77.4kWh battery, twin e-motors, all-wheel drive
Transmission:
Performance: 321bhp, 446lb ft, 5.2sec 0-62mph, 116mph
Weight / material: 2530kg
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm):

Photo Gallery

  • Kia EV6 prototype review: sci-fi looks, real-world performance
  • Kia EV6 prototype review: sci-fi looks, real-world performance
  • Kia EV6 prototype review: sci-fi looks, real-world performance
  • Kia EV6 prototype review: sci-fi looks, real-world performance

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast

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