The Kia EV6 is the Korean brand’s strongest shot yet at toppling Tesla.
With an all-new dedicated electric vehicle platform, futuristic design, and enough technology to make some premium brands sweat, it certainly has a lot going for it on paper.
Alas, it won’t be challenging anything else for sales dominance anytime soon in Australia.
High international demand and limited production means only around 500 examples of this new EV will reach Australia during the course of 2022. If you manage to get your hands on one, you’ll be in very exclusive company.
But that’s not to say it still can’t be an objectively class-leading vehicle despite its low annual volume here, right?
Here we take a look at the 2022 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD to see if it’s the sweet spot of the range.
The vehicle you see here is now priced from $79,590 plus on-road costs, a $4600 increase on the launch pricing announced at the beginning of this year.
Using Kia Australia’s online configurator, that’s equivalent to a drive-away price of $85,845 using a Melbourne postcode (3000).
Kia’s premium positioning the EV6 means it’s priced against a range of electric competitors, including the Tesla Model Y ($72,300), Volvo XC40 Recharge Pure Electric Single Motor ($72,990), Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor ($69,900), the Hyundai Ioniq 5 Techniq ($75,500) and of course Kia’s own Niro EV GT-Line ($72,100).
Kia EV6 pricing (as of July 1, 2022):
- Kia EV6 Air RWD: $72,590 (+$4600)
- Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD: $79,590 (+$4600)
- Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD: $87,590 (+$4600)
Prices exclude on-road costs
The EV6 followed the Sportage into the Australian market, but it debuted the new screen-heavy interior design that elevates Kia’s ambience to almost luxury European levels.
Ahead of the driver are two lovely 12.3-inch curved displays, one for the instrument cluster and another for the touchscreen navigation system, as well as a swanky new two-spoke steering wheel.
The Adidas tracksuit-style interior design motif is unique to the GT-Line models, adorning the dashboard, perforated suede sports seats as well as elements like the centre armrest and door inserts.
Front occupants are treated to electric seat adjustment, seat heating and ventilation, as well as premium relaxation seats that recline so far back you could have a nap. These are similar to the zero gravity seats in the Ioniq 5, perfect for when you’re waiting at a public charger.
The cool floating centre console houses plenty of storage, cupholders, and the wireless phone charger. Annoyingly, however, the EV6 lacks wireless smartphone mirroring which renders that charger redundant if you rely on CarPlay or Android Auto.
Underneath is a cubby large enough for a handbag or other loose items, courtesy of the lack of a mechanical connection between the front and rear wheels on this dedicated electric vehicle platform.
Overall build quality is good, though it’s not perfect. The centre console can wobble a bit if you push it, and the fake metal trim inserts are a little meh. Same goes for the swathes of gloss black trim.
The 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen is Hyundai and Kia’s flagship unit if you’re not counting Genesis products, and is essentially an enlarged version of the 10.25-inch system we’ve seen in other products.
While it’s high-resolution and quite user-friendly, it lacks the extended functionality you’d expect of a vehicle at this price, and doesn’t really differentiate itself from cheaper products. There’s no net-based Kia Connect, at least for now, though being an EV it does get extra menus for range and charging.
Kia also has public chargers entered into the navigation, meaning the EV6 can look up the nearest charging station. It’s hooked up to an excellent 14-speaker Meridian premium sound system (a first for Kia) that, when turned up, transforms the EV6 into what felt like a sound-proof concert hall.
Underneath the infotainment system is a touch bar which in Australia we first saw in the Sportage, mimicking the usual infotainment and HVAC buttons but blending them in one swish panel. Unlike some touch-based controls for these functions, Kia balances classic functionality and new-age tech well.
Open the rear doors and you’re greeted by a bench capable of transporting two adults with little fuss, and three at a pinch.
Again, that dedicated EV platform and its flat floor pan opens up more space for those in the back, and the EV6’s lengthy 2900mm wheelbase means legroom and knee room is good for adults sitting behind adults. The sloping roofline does, however, mean headroom for taller adults isn’t as plentiful as it should be.
Rear amenities include a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders, air vents mounted in the B-pillars, USB chargers on the rear sides of the front seats, airline-style map pockets, and a vehicle to load (V2L) outlet underneath the middle seat. It houses a conventional wall socket so you can plug in everything from a laptop charger to a hairdryer if you need to use an electrical appliance on the go.
Kids are also catered for thanks to ISOFIX anchors on the outer rear seats, and there’s top-tether points on the back of all three rear pews.
Behind the rear seats, GT-Line models have a luggage capacity of 480L with five seats in use (down 10L on the base Air), which opens up to 1260L when them folded.
There’s little if no hump between the boot floor and rear seatbacks, meaning loading heavy items shouldn’t be too much of an issue. With that said, the rear seats don’t fold completely flat.
A variable load floor means you can hide all your charging paraphernalia under the boot floor our of sight, though there’s no spare wheel available on any Kia EV6. Instead you have a tyre mobility kit.
There’s some storage under the bonnet too, though it adds just 52L of capacity for RWD models. GT-Line AWD versions have even less, at 20L.
EV6 RWD models are powered by a 168kW/350Nm electric motor mounted on the rear axle
Kia claims the EV6 RWD will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds, while the more powerful 239kW/605Nm dual-motor AWD version drops that significantly to 5.2 seconds.
All versions of the Kia EV6 in Australia are fitted with a long-range 77.4kWh high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack. There’s a smaller 58kWh battery available in overseas markets, but that’s not on the cards here for the time being.
The EV6 Air has the longest range claim (up to 528km) thanks to its lighter single-motor powertrain and smaller 19-inch wheels, while the GT-Line RWD quotes 504 kilometres on its 20-inch wheel package.
Combined power efficiency of this variant is rated at 17.2kWh/100km. Over a mix of freeway and inner city driving, including a more spirited dynamic loop, our test vehicle was showing an indicated 18.8kWh/100km which would indicate a real-world range estimate of just over 410 kilometres.
Having only had a brief stint in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the EV6 GT-Line AWD prior to this review, I didn’t have the best grasp on the E-GMP platform’s characteristics, despite good feedback from colleagues and overseas media.
The EV6 RWD’s 168kW and 350Nm aren’t necessarily impressive by EV standards, when for similar money you can have a 300kW/660Nm dual-motor drivetrain in the Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor or Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin Motor.
But, the Kia’s 7.3-second 0-100 time is only a few tenths off something like a Skoda Octavia RS Wagon, and the instant torque off the line makes this 2.0-tonne crossover feel a lot more lively than the figures suggest.
Performance in everyday driving is smooth and muscular, and the EV6’s locally-tuned chassis is well-equipped for navigating pimpled Melbourne city streets as well as eating up miles on country highways. It’s comfortable and cushy while also exhibiting impressive body control – Kia Australia’s team has struck a great balance here.
The EV6 is noticeably more resolved than its Ioniq 5 platform mate, which has a much softer setup (that also wasn’t tuned locally) and doesn’t have the same finesse over undulations and through successive bends.
Insulation from road and wind noise is excellent, especially when you consider GT-Line models wear 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 255/45 Continental tyres. Despite the mainstream badge, it genuinely offers a premium cabin ambience on the move.
You can toggle the amount of ‘engine noise’ using the vehicle settings, which offer a range of different sounds at varying levels. They can sound a little contrived at their most aggressive, but it’s good that there’s a wide range of choice on offer so owners can tailor the experience to their tastes.
The light steering makes parking this thing easy, aided by the GT-Line’s standard 360-degree cameras with 3D view, and merging into tight gaps is made easier by the nifty Blind Spot View Monitor cameras projecting a live feed into your digital instrument cluster whenever you flick the on indicators.
While there’s no adaptive damping, there are different drive modes which adjust the steering and throttle response accordingly. The EV6 GT-Line RWD impressed during some spirited driving through twisty bits north of Melbourne. While you can’t defy physics and mask the vehicle’s heft, it’s more than capable of being a bit of fun.
Our test subject’s drivetrain also has a nice rear-drive balance to it without scaring you by chirping the tyres or kicking the back out like a Stinger GT. Again, this single-motor drivetrain is more than enough for most.
Kia’s comprehensive assistance suite again proved itself here. Adaptive cruise control with stop/go, Lane Following Assist (centring), and a swish augmented reality (AR) function for the big head-up display made longer-distance drives a breeze, and with a level of refinement and polish you’d expect from European products costing twice the price. Bravo.
However, it’s a shame Australian-spec EV6 models don’t get the option of Matrix LED headlights like in Europe, the UK and South Korea. The standard reflector-type LEDs do the job fine, but given the pricing it would be great if you could have a more sophisticated adaptive high-beam function.
EV6 GT-Line highlights:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- Acoustic front window glass
- Rear privacy glass
- Auto-folding flush door handles
- GT-Line exterior styling
- V2L exterior
- ‘Wide’ sunroof (GT-Line AWD only)
- Leatherette/suede seat upholstery
- Stainless steel luggage area sill plate
- 64-colour ambient interior lighting
- Active Sound Design (engine sound modes)
- Augmented reality head-up display
- 14-speaker Meridian audio
- Power driver seat with 2-position memory
- Premium Relaxation Seats (front)
- Heated/ventilated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Remote Smart Park Assist
- Power tailgate
- Blind Spot View Monitor
- 3D surround-view camera system
That’s on top of features standard on the EV6 Air:
- 77.4kWh long-range battery
- 19-inch alloy wheels
- LED headlights (reflector-type)
- LED daytime running lights
- LED tail lights
- Acoustic windscreen
- Solar glass (windscreen and doors)
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Flush door handles
- Power-folding mirrors
- Dial-type shifter
- Paddle shifter for regen braking
- Leatherette steering wheel trim
- Cloth/leatherette upholstery
- Power driver lumbar adjustment
- Remote-folding second-row seats
- LED interior lighting
- V2L interior power outlet
- Auto power windows (front)
- Dual curved 12.3-inch displays (infotainment + cluster)
- Satellite navigation
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto (wired)
- Wireless phone charger
- USB chargers in front seatbacks
- 12V outlet in luggage area
- Smart key with push-button start
- Dual-zone climate control
- Electro-chromatic rear-view mirror
- Snow White Pearl*
- Aurora Black Pearl*
- Runway Red
- Yacht Blue*
- Steel Grey* (EV6 Air only)
- Glacier* (EV6 Air only)
- Moonscape** (EV6 GT-Line only)
*Premium paint costs an additional $520
**Moonscape matte includes Kia Car Car Paint Protection for $3295
The EV6 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating with 2022 datestamp.
Kia’s all-electric crossover managed category scores of 90 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 64 per cent for vulnerable road user protection and 88 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian and Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Lane-keep assist
- Lane Following Assist (active centring)
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Front-centre airbag
- Intelligent speed limit assist
- Multi Collision Braking
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Tyre pressure monitoring
EV6 GT-Line adds:
Like the wider Kia line-up, the EV6 range is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with seven years of capped-price servicing and up to eight years of roadside assistance if you service within the dealer network.
Further, high-voltage components of electrified vehicles (hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric) are warranted for seven years or 150,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
Kia offers three prepaid service plans for the EV6. The three-year plan is priced at $594, the five-year plan will set you back $1089, and the seven-year plan is $1584.
Unlike some of the premium brands, Kia doesn’t offer a complementary home charging unit or a subscription to Chargefox with the purchase of an EV6.
There’s no denying the EV6’s strengths – it’s a very complete electric vehicle offering great design, technology, practicality, and of course performance and range. It’s also got Kia’s excellent warranty coverage.
I’m not one to buy into the “every EV needs to be Tesla-quick” school of thought, and for most EV6 buyers who are likely existing Kia owners or coming from other mainstream brands, the level of performance on tap in RWD versions are more than enough for everyday driving.
Recent price rises make the EV6 lose some of its shine though, with the vehicle on test more than $85,000 drive-away. That’s a lot of money in anyone’s books, and we don’t quite get the full equipment catalogue available overseas either.
But if you manage to get your hands on one of the 500-600 units allocated to Australia this year, or end up waiting until 2023 for one, the EV6 is clear evidence that Kia is no longer just a cheap and cheerful brand, and is more than capable of producing world-class vehicles irrespective of powertrain technology.
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