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Car reviews - Kia - EV6

Our Opinion

We like
Brilliant handling, extra vehicle-to-load capability, more affordable than IONIQ 5
Room for improvement
Sensitive suspension, base model doesn’t feel premium enough

Kia's second EV offering is one of electrically-enhanced sophistication

25 Feb 2022


IT SEEMS like just yesterday that Kia was still engaged in chasing the bottom of the market, with keen drive-away deals, manual-equipped compact hatchbacks and juicy after-sales cherries like seven-year warranties and keen capped-price servicing incentives being thrown at would-be customers to get them through the showroom doors.


To be fair, all of those things are still very much in Kia Australia’s playbook, but the brand has evolved into quite a different beast of late, and the arrival of its hot new EV6 into the local market signals a new phase for the brand – that of electrically-enhanced sophistication.


However, the EV6 is not the company’s first electric car. The Niro holds that distinction, but as an electric vehicle the Niro EV lacked a certain sparkle. The EV6, however, resolutely has that sparkle.


Design is what catches the eye first. Based on the same pure-electric E-GMP architecture as its Hyundai cousin, the IONIQ 5, the EV6 measures up with a slightly smaller wheelbase at 2900mm (100mm shorter than the IONIQ 5), but a longer overall length of 4695mm, lower height of 1550mm and identical width, giving it a sportier stature that meshes well with its athletic styling. 


Against the stealth-fighter style faceted styling of the IONIQ 5, the EV6 certainly stands apart with its own unique visual persona, despite the under-the-skin commonalities.


It’s also slightly more aerodynamic, with a coefficient of drag of 0.28 versus the IONIQ 5’s 0.29 – no surprise given the Hyundai’s extra height and upright, sharp-edged design.


The EV6 uses the same 77.4kWh battery pack and electric drive motors as the IONIQ 5, though with slightly higher power ratings for the latter. Kia claims outputs of 168kW for its rear-drive variants (base EV6 Air and EV6 GT-Line), with 239kW combined output for the dual-motor EV6 GT-Line AWD, while maximum torque comes in at 350Nm and 605Nm respectively – the same as Hyundai’s pure-electric halo.


In a sprint, performance is about par with the IONIQ 5, the EV6 running to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds as a RWD and 5.2 seconds as an AWD. However, handling is what really separates them, with the EV6’s locally-developed suspension tune being geared toward corner carving and driver engagement, enhanced by special frequency-selective dampers by ZF, while the IONIQ 5’s overseas-developed suspension tune is instead focused on boulevard-cruising comfort.


Drive Impressions 


On the road it really does feel worlds apart from the IONIQ 5. At the EV6’s local launch in Canberra, the lion’s share of driving was done on rural B-roads, with a good mix of high-speed cruising and tight and twisty mountain work. 


To be honest it’s arguably the kind of environment that most EVs will rarely encounter, but Kia’s intent was obvious – the company is keen to emphasise the EV6’s distinct personality and dynamic capability. After all, they’ve invested in that local tune – they’d want to show it off.


And for a car that weighs north of two tonnes before passengers or cargo are loaded aboard (the RWD models have a kerb weight smack bang on 2000kg, the AWD adds 105kg), the EV6 acquits itself well. 


Even before leaving Canberra’s city streets, the EV6 GT-Line AWD displays a sportier intent. The suspension and 20-inch alloys with Continental rubber deliver a slightly sensitive and fussy ride over low-amplitude, high-frequency bumps, but that gives way to plusher damping on bigger road imperfections. 


Find a more interesting ribbon of tarmac, and the suspension more in tune with the road, ably containing the EV6’s considerable mass while delivering respectable roadholding and grip.


It’s mighty impressive in the AWD model – especially with its substantial torque reserves that responds well to a point-and-shoot driving style – but after swapping the AWD for a GT-Line RWD, it’s clear that the real dynamic winner in the range is the one without the most power. 


The rear-driven EV6s, thanks to significantly less weight over the front axle, is a proper delight to drive. Its chassis exhibits the best balance, the greatest willingness to turn into a corner and also a very pleasing and progressive degree of slip from the back as you feed the power back on – a trait that’s very easily managed even when traction control is deactivated (but stability control left on). 


It’s best experienced in GT-Line trim thanks to its grippier Continentals (and for other reasons we’ll talk about in a sec), but the base EV6 Air does have the same enjoyment factor – and it’s probably more accessible thanks to the lower grip of its 19-inch Kumho or Nexen tyres. 


The Air is also more affordable – at $67,990 plus on-road costs it’s considerably cheaper than not only the $74,990 (+ORCs) EV6 GT-Line RWD and $82,990 (+ORCs) EV6 GT-Line AWD, but also the $71,990 (+ORCs) Hyundai IONIQ 5 – and on those 19-inch wheels and fatter-sidewalled tyres it delivers a comfier ride too. 


However, when driven back to back with the GT-Line variants it does come across as somewhat wanting…


Around town, all are generally equal in their driveability, with multi-mode regenerative braking allowing a more traditional driving experience when the regen is dialed all the way back, or a high-regen mode that permits single-pedal driving. Like the IONIQ 5, that regenerative braking system can also be tailored in its aggressiveness using the steering wheel’s paddles, while an auto mode dynamically adjusts regen according to traffic conditions and vehicle speed. 


The main difference comes when accelerating from a red light – the GT-Line AWD, with its huge torque and all-paw grip, will easily scoot away from the line while the RWD versions feel a little less fleet-footed (though still more than respectable in terms of acceleration).


In fact, the only thing that takes some of the sheen off the EV6’s sporting verve is its soft and vague brake pedal, which never really conveys just how much braking power is in reserve; though it does at least manage the transition from regenerative braking to mechanical braking reasonably well.


The standard specification level is good – all EV6s ship with a dual 12.3-inch infotainment/instrument display that stretches across two-thirds of the dashboard, with sat-nav, digital radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring (wired for both), plus dual-zone climate control, a wireless phone charging pad and five USB charge points around the cabin. 


Plus there’s also the genuinely useful vehicle-to-load power point under the rear bench seat, which allows the car to power virtually any device you want – up to and including another electric vehicle. 


That’s on top of a robust standard safety suite that include autonomous emergency braking, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, AEB and a brace of seven airbags (including a centre side airbag for the front occupants)


However, in the GT-Line you gain power-adjustable front seats (that’s right, the Air only gets manual sliders and backrest adjustment), a black headliner, leather upholstery instead of the Air’s somewhat underwhelming vinyl, cooler-looking dash trim instead of the Air’s faux-fabric, a head-up display, smart parking assist, a surround view monitor, blind spot cameras that activate when you use the indicators, and the vehicle-to-load adaptor that converts the EV6’s charge port to another household power outlet. 


For a $7000 premium for the GT-Line RWD over the base model Air, all that additional equipment is entirely worth the expense – and there are other detail additions too, such as laminated privacy glass and alloy sports pedals in the GT-Line, for example.


That’s not to say that the Air is entirely without merit. For one, its sub-$70K price point makes it not only more affordable, but better able to take advantage of certain EV rebates, tax concessions and other incentives depending on where you live – such as NSW and SA’s $3000 rebate for EVs under $68,750, and Victoria’s similar rebate for sub-$68,740 EVs.


The Air also has the best single-charge range. All EV6s in Australia use the same 77.4kWh battery, and the EV6 Air, being the lightest variant and having lower rolling resistance from its 19-inch wheel and tyre combo, is able to extract a 528km range from that amount of energy. The GT-Line RWD, by contrast, achieves 504km on a single charge while the GT-Line AWD only manages 480km.


Opting for the entry model also nets you the most comfortable ride, with the slightly jiggly secondary ride of the GT-Lines largely eliminated by the taller sidewalls. However, for a car that’s so forward-thinking in the way it drives, looks and handles, it’s arguably best enjoyed when decked out with the most equipment. The EV6 simply feels the most complete when specified in GT-Line trim.


Following on from the lackluster Niro EV, the EV6 is a car that is incredibly well-resolved. It’s far from a token effort to put the brand into the burgeoning EV space, and in fact it’s arguably one of the best pure electric cars you can buy right now. 


With an ultra-hot EV6 eGT variant just around the corner (how does a 3.5-second 0-100km/h sprint time sound?), it’s fair to say that Kia has well and truly entered an exciting new phase.

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1st of February 2022

Kia EV6

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