Kia EV6 review
The first of the new breed of pure-electric cars from Kia impresses, offering sportier looks and handling than its Hyundai Ioniq 5 cousin
- Sleek looks
- Sporty handling
- Good range and charging speed
- Premium price
- Slightly harsh ride
- Not quite as practical as Ioniq 5
|Model||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|Long Range RWD||328 miles||12hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||18mins (10-80%, 250kW)|
|Long Range AWD||314 miles||12hrs 30mins (0-100%, 7.4kW)||18mins (10-80%, 250kW)|
Kia has never been a company to drag its heels when it comes to electric cars, with the first-generation Soul EV being one of the first mainstream electric SUVs you could buy. Nowadays the second-generation version of that model – and the closely related e-Niro – remain among the best electric cars you can buy, especially if you need space for a family.
However, they're still based on architecture shared with petrol and diesel-engined models, which results in some compromises when it comes to design and interior space. So, just like the Volkswagen Group has done with its 'MEB' technology, Kia and sister brands Hyundai and Genesis have developed a platform exclusively for electric cars. It's called 'E-GMP' and is ready to underpin a wide variety of models in the coming years.
The first cars to be based on these foundations are the Ioniq 5 from Hyundai and this – the Kia EV6. We've already been impressed by the former, so it's safe to say expectations for the EV6 were high before our first drive, which was of pre-production prototype close to the finished article.
There's a slight difference in philosophy between the two cars: whereas the Ioniq 5 places emphasis on comfort, the EV6 is intended to be a bit sportier and more dynamic. That's immediately apparent in how it looks: sleeker and sharper than the boxy, retro-inspired Hyundai, leaning fully into the idea of a 'coupe SUV'. Where it does remind you of the Hyundai is in its sheer size: it's 4.7 metres long, and nearly three metres of that is the wheelbase between the axles, leaving plenty of room for both passengers and battery packs.
In the UK, the only battery option is 77.4kWh, with the smaller 58kWh pack you can specify for the Ioniq 5 not offered with the EV6 here. That capacity gives an official range of 314 miles from the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive version of the EV6 we've driven first. Choosing the two-wheel-drive version with the same battery doesn't actually get you that much more range – its official figure stands at 328 miles.
In common with other electric Kias to date, the EV6 is very efficient, coming close to its claimed numbers in real-world driving and never over or under-promising how many miles you can cover on its dashboard display. Maximising your range means making the most of the regenerative braking, which is among the most effective of any electric car we've tried. The strongest 'i-pedal' setting is sufficient for genuine one-pedal driving around town, and you can activate this mode momentarily at any time just by holding one of the steering-column paddles.
As it's based on that E-GMP platform we mentioned above, the EV6 benefits from 800v electrical architecture and thus supports an ultra-rapid charging rate of 250kW. Find a charging point that'll give you electricity that fast and you can top up from 10 to 80% capacity in less than 20 minutes – or to put it another way, add over 60 miles of range in five minutes. Replenishing overnight from a home wallbox will take just under seven-and-a-half hours if you have the three-phase electrics needed to support an 11kW charger; otherwise, a conventional 7.4kW wallbox will take 12-and-a-half hours to do the same job.
On the road, performance is strong courtesy of 321bhp from the EV6's two electric motors, which develop peak torque of 405Nm. That translates to 0-62mph being over and done with in 5.2 seconds, as well as nicely punchy performance for overtaking from any speed. Kia has an even faster version in the works: the 577bhp GT, with a supercar-bothering 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds.
Progress is swift in the EV6, then, but it's also quiet: even at motorway speeds, wind and tyre noise are kept to a reasonable level, which isn't always the case with electric cars. Comfort is good, too – although not quite to the same extent as the Ioniq 5. There's a definite firm edge to the ride, but this is an inevitable tradeoff for the Kia's sportier handling compared to its Hyundai cousin.
Weight is always a factor when it comes to discussing electric-car handling, and despite some clever suspension technology, Kia's engineers haven't quite managed to disguise the EV6's 2,015kg mass, nor its fairly long wheelbase – although some final tweaking is still to come for the definitive production car, they say.
Once you're done exploring the EV6's handling prowess and settle down for a routine drive, you'll find the interior and technology are up to the same high standards we've become accustomed to from the brand of late. There's a stylish curved infotainment display giving you access to most of the car's functions, comprising twin 12.3-inch screens with sharp graphics and responsive, logically designed menus.
Interior space is excellent, too: the flat floor that's a key feature of electric cars sitting on bespoke platforms ensures everyone on board has plenty of room for their legs and feet. And despite that rakish roofline, there's still decent headroom for adult occupants of the back seats, plus a 480-litre boot capacity with all seats in place.
The car we drove was representative of the UK's GT-Line S specification, which will cost from just under £52,000 in all-wheel-drive form and boasts an extensive equipment list, including a premium Meridian audio system, wireless phone charging, an augmented reality head-up display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 360-degree camera, heated and ventilated seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, LED headlights, 20-inch alloys and lots of driver-assistance and safety kit.
If your budget won't quite stretch that far, there's an entry-level two-wheel-drive model for just under £41,000. That's still a hefty starting figure for a Kia, but the brand is making a deliberate move upmarket here and the EV6's pricing is in line with intended rivals like the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Volkswagen ID.5. On the strength of this first drive, it's more than a match for them when it comes to practicality, technology, comfort and handling, too. If you're willing to sacrifice a smidgen of comfort in pursuit of sportier handling, the Kia EV6 has the makings of a very tempting 'do-it-all' electric-car package.