Starting Price: €50,000*
Price as tested: €50,000*
- The Kia EV6 is quite simply one of the best, if not the best EVs on the market today.
- The rear visibility isn’t great and neither is supply right now.
WHAT IS IT?
The Kia EV6 is Kia’s first all-electric vehicle and it follows on from what has been a series of hits from the Korean brand from their mainstream line-up. The Sportage has been an ever-popular model in Ireland (a new version of this is about to land, too) and the Sorento, in particular, the PHEV version has been receiving widespread critical acclaim. The Kia EV6 is remarkable, firstly because of how it looks. Here is a car that looks every inch the concept car that has landed in showrooms, but the depth of technology on offer, the bang for the buck and the sheer presence being offered by this new model shows a very serious signal of intent from Kia. At this stage in 2021, there are buyers scrambling to join a queue for a Kia. Take that sentence in for a second. The Irish car landscape is shifting. The line-up here, for now, is pretty simple, there is one battery choice, the long-range 77.4 kWh battery pack and for now, Ireland just gets the 2WD version, with a choice of two trim levels, the Earth and the GT. There is an all-wheel-drive version, which is likely to come sometime early in 2022. The 77.4 kWh battery pack, combined with rear-wheel drive makes the EV6 good for a potential 528km of range and a single charge and we know from driving Korean EVs that this is more likely to be true than on any other brand this side of Tesla. The 77.4 kWh battery pack is twinned with a 229ps electric motor, and in the all-wheel-drive version, when that goes come there are two electric motors powering the front and rear axles, to produce a total of 325ps.
HOW ABOUT THE LOOKS?
Design, as ever being subjective, there can be no arguing about the fact that this is an incredibly striking vehicle. At the front, the brand says that Kia’s ‘tiger face’ has been re-interpreted for the digital era, calling it their ‘Digital Tiger Face’ – with daytime running lights and a ‘sequential’ dynamic light pattern. Below this, a low air intake visually widens the front of the car. There is a crossover-inspired silhouette for the EV6 but it actually sits quite a bit lower than photos would suggest and it definitely looks more sporty than you would expect. The car is quite compact, yet sitting on a very long wheelbase (2,900mm), so the interior space is vast as a result. The rear of the car is where, for this writer anyway, the car looks at its most striking. The rear light cluster is truly beautiful. Our car (thanks to Jack Doran Motors in Drogheda) was the Earth model and was shod with 19” alloy wheels, which were a very good balance between looks and ride comfort. We’ve yet to try the GT with the larger 20” alloy wheels, which certainly look a touch better, but they might unsettle the car slightly.
WHAT IS THE INSIDE LIKE?
Step inside the EV6 and the most striking element, right away, is the seamless high-tech curved infotainment system. You are greeted upfront by a minimalist dashboard architecture that gives an impression of space. Without the burden of a transmission tunnel, there is tons of legroom (990mm for rear-seat passengers) and this offers exceptional comfort. Special relaxation seats allow the driver and front passenger to relax in comfort when the EV6 is parked or charging. At the touch of a button, the seats will lift and recline, optimising posture and body pressure distribution while allowing occupants to stretch out. Throughout the cabin, Kia has made a point about the use of sustainable materials – from vegan leather trims to seat fabrics and floor carpets made using recycled plastics, equivalent to 111 plastic 500ml water bottles.
There is a minimalist theme to the car’s major controls. The Shift-by-Wire selector is placed alongside the EV6’s starter button on the centre console, while the neat steering wheel has a variety of functions built-in. The infotainment system is particularly impressive and includes two curved 12.3” high-definition widescreens. Directly in front of the driver is a customisable ‘cluster screen’ which displays information such as speed, remaining EV range and state of charge. Next to that is a central display screen combining the navigation, infotainment and menu systems. An excellent head-up display (HUD) system with Augmented Reality is one of the best on the market.
Luggage space, at 520-litres, is generous and this can extend out to 1,300 litres with the rear seats folded flat and like you will find in a Tesla Model 3, there is a front trunk (frunk) which provides an additional 52 litres of storage space. One minus is the rear visibility from inside the cabin, which is poor, although there are more than enough camera’s to counter this.
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
The EV6 initially feels a lot more sporty and gives a lot more of a visceral feel than many EVs that we have driven of late. While not as overtly sporty and urgent as the Tesla Model 3, it is definitely more driver-focused than its excellent cousin the Hyundai IONIQ 5. Steering feedback is good, the ride is very compliant, even shot on 19” wheels and the plethora of driver assistance systems, do just that – assist. They never feel intrusive or a nuisance. The EV6 has a firmer suspension set-up than the Hyundai IONIQ 5 and this becomes very evident if you hit the Sport button, where the increased responsiveness from the accelerator and steering can feel a little unpleasant. Here is a setting many people will try and probably never bother with again. Overall, the ride is good in this car and it has enough sportiness at times to give grown-up boy racers a gentle smirk. An EV that weighs two tonnes can seldom really be described as feeling fast, but the EV6 is certainly urgent. In terms of the all-important EV performance the claimed 528km on a full charge is more believable that in some other brands but while this is unlikely to happen unless conditions were ideal, the range will always start with a four and that is a lot to be driving in one go anyway. Charging is impressive in this car, especially at IONITY where the EV6’s 800v ultra-fast charging will enable drivers to charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes, with 100 km of range possible in less than 4.5 minutes.
WHICH ONE SHOULD I BUY?
For now, it really is a question of what can you get. Few buyers that want an EV6 side of Summer 2022 can afford to be picky. Most dealers have only a handful for this year and most at this stage are being snaffled up. Kia say that they expect to sell around 750 in 2022 and truth be told they would probably do double that if they had them. That means you can forget about discounts and perhaps have to be easy-going on colour and spec unless you want to wait a long time for your car. The Earth specification is very well equipped, including the likes of a Heat Pump which scavenges waste heat from the car’s coolant system and ensures that at -7 degrees Celsius, the car can achieve 80% of the range that would be possible at 25 degrees Celsius, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go Functionality, Vegan Leather Seat Upholstery, Heated Front Seats and a Heated Wheel. The GT Line includes GT Line styling, 20” Alloys, Suede/Vegan Leather Seats (front ventilated), Blind Spot View monitors, AR Heads Up Display and a Panoramic Sunroof.
IS IT SAFE?
This is one of the most comprehensively safety-equipped cars we have driven in some time. There is Highway Driving Assist with a lane change support package. Using radars located around the vehicle, the system can help the driver to maintain a set distance and speed from the vehicle ahead while Lane Following Assist (LFA) technology centres the vehicle in its lane. There is an endless list of other items including Blind-Spot View Monitor (BVM) and Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA) as well as Kia’s Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist.
The best EV on the market today? Alongside the Hyundai IONIQ 5, Tesla Model 3 and Škoda ENYAQ, then yes it is up there. It is incredibly competent in every regard, looks awesome, drives well, has superb equipment and will hold its value.
Kia EV6 Earth
Battery: 77.4 kWh
0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds
Range: Up to 528km
Transmission: Single-Speed Automatic
Annual Motor Tax: €120
Luggage Capacity: 520 litres
Price as tested: €50,000
For more information log on to www.kia.ie
Special thanks to Mark Doran and Robert Doran in Jack Doran Motors for providing the EV6 to test drive.
*Including available grants