►Another very promising electric newcomer from Korea
► Impressive looks
► Same E-GMP skeleton as the Ioniq 5
The history books will show that Kia was anything but late to the electric car party thanks to the 2014 launch of the Soul EV. It was a competent family car, but did little to stir its spiritual namesake or enhance its maker’s reputation. However, fast forward to 2021 and it’s a different story with the flagship Kia EV6.
Best electric SUV
Based on the same dedicated EV platform as the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the EV6 aims to continue the work of the Stinger by proving that the South Korean brand can mix it with historically more premium brands in the ongoing switch to electric. Priced from £40k (but with more expensive versions available), the EV6 is officially in the territory of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, not to mention Polestar and, of course, Tesla…
What is it supposed to be?
Good question. See, in pics it looks like large hatchback, yet in reality it’s a full-size SUV that’s about as long and wide as an Audi Q5. Anyone who’s seen an Ioniq 5 up close will know how deceiving the manufacturer pics can be when it comes to scale.
The front is designed around Kia’s ‘Digital Tiger Face’ (yes, really) and uses the ‘Tiger Nose Grille’ from the e-Niro and other Kia models. This, together with the distinctive headlight pattern, sizeable rear spoiler and angular posterior mean that – love it or hate it – the EV6’s design stands out among often more generic contemporaries.
How fast is it?
It depends which version you go for. All EV6s get a 77.4kWh battery (bigger than the Ioniq 5’s 72.6kWh unit, but there’s a choice between the RWD single-motor variant and the AWD dual-motor model. The former develops 226bhp and 350Nm of torque, managing the 0-62mph sprint in 7.3 seconds, while the latter makes 321bhp, 605Nm and hits 62 in 5.2 seconds.
Many might be expecting a little more from Kia’s flagship EV, but it’s important to note that the most recent electric cars aren’t boasting about the headline acceleration figures they once did. The market has changed, plus the cars are – in general – more well-rounded and have more than just crazy speed to shout about. That said, Kia will be producing a top-of-the range GT version with 577bhp, due in late 2022.
Performance from the AWD version feels the same as the stats would suggest. As in, it’s more than quick enough to embarrass most things on the road but never feels like it’s about to take your head off. Accelerating to 62mph is a brisk experience, but the increase in speed begins to drop off noticeably north of 60/70mph.
What’s the handling like?
There’s no denying that the EV6 is exceptionally easy to drive once you get over the width of it. There’s three driving modes (Eco, Normal and Sport), with each doing exactly as they say on the tin and feeling perceptibly different. Regenerative braking is controlled via paddles on the back of the wheel, with a shortcut straight to a – very effective – single-pedal mode.
With a kerb weight of just over 2 tonnes, the EV6 isn’t actually the heaviest electric SUV out there yet, yet it’s still enough to cause headache when travelling through a corner. Especially when the EV6 is only available on passive frequency selective dampers (the flagship GT model will be on an adaptive setup). To combat this, Kia has stiffened up the front and rear spring rates compared with the Ioniq 5, as well as increasing the available damper force.
The result is a car that feels a good couple of hundred kilos lighter than it is, showing off admirable agility in tighter bends and high-speed direction changes. You can even – in greasy conditions – bring about controlled oversteer on corner exit, the rear-biased powertrain enabling deft adjustability through each phase of the bend.
What’s more impressive is that this doesn’t come at the expense of a poor ride even on the larger 20-inch wheels. Sure, it’s firmer than the Ioniq 5, but it’s a long way from being close to uncomfortable. In fact, owing to the extra body control some may prefer the way it tackles a twisty medium speed road at a swift pace. Wind noise is perceptible above 60mph, but it’s not enough to spoil a well-judged driving experience.
How much range and how long to charge?
Lots and not long – is the short answer. Range for the RWD version is up to 328 miles, with this dropping down to 300 for AWD cars with the 20-inch wheels. Crucially, though, the range readout doesn’t fluctuate wildly depending on how you drive the car. What you see is, bar exceptional circumstances, what you get. We’d go so far as to say that it holds charge during mixed driving better than pretty much any of its rivals.
And when you do eventually run out of juice, you’ve got the benefit of an 800V charging architecture that can be used with the UK’s small but growing network of ultra-fast chargers. Find one (it needs to be 220kWh rated or more), and the EV6 can go from 0-80% battery capacity in 18 minutes, with a 62-mile top-up taking just 4.5 minutes. Deeply impressive stuff.
Any good tech?
All versions get twin 12.3-inch touchscreens with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standard, as well as a suite of safety aids. On higher spec cars (the trim structure starts at Air, then GT-Line then GT-Line S), features like an augmented realty head-up display are added, as is a greater spread of driver assistance tech and wireless phone charging. Of particular note, is the side rear facing cameras activating when indicating, giving you a clear over-the-shoulder view on the dash display.
It’s all very high-end gadgetry, and it fits in well with the overall look of the cabin. Materials feel relatively expensive and well-trimmed, the layout is impressive and there’s a genuine impression that Kia has thrown a good deal of its considerable resources in to making the interior a nice place to be. We particularly approved of the climate control dials that double up as the radio volume adjustment and tuner at the touch of a button.
And the rest of the car?
Owing to the EV6’s size, the interior is deceptively large. The lack of a transmission tunnel means there’s a huge amount of storage space under the central column of switches up front, while rear seat passengers benefit from greater foot-room should you want to carry the maximum 5 occupants.
Boot space is less impressive thanks to shallow load area and intruding wheel arches, yet there’s still enough for 490 litres worth of luggage with the rear seats in place and 1,300 litres with them folding down. The ‘frunk’ meanwhile, is small and barely worth mentioning.
There’s no denying that the Kia EV6 is a hugely capable EV that sits comfortably among traditionally more prestigious rivals and more than holds its own. The range, charging speeds, tech, overall drive and inevitable reliability are all selling points in their own right, yet put them together and they bring the EV6 close to being a five-star car.
It’s also worth noting that this is a far more impressive effort than the previous flagship of the Kia model range. The Stinger is a loveable thing with tonnes of charm, yet it simply doesn’t have the across-the-board competence (in the context of rivals) that the EV6 does. Yes the EV6, it’s a £40k Kia, but any naysayers would be hard pushed to pinpoint how customers aren’t getting their money’s worth.
From £40,945 (£51,945 as tested)
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