The Kia EV6 looks like nothing else from the Korean brand’s current line-up, and it sparks a new era for the company that shows just how seriously it is taking electric vehicles.
Sitting on an all-new dedicated electric platform (E-GMP) it betters the Niro EV in terms of performance and range, making it Kia’s de facto flagship electric car.
Although the EV6 isn’t slated to arrive in Australia until 2022, we’ve gotten behind the wheel at the Kia’s international launch in southern Spain to see how it stacks up.
Kia Australia is still in the process of finalising pricing and specifications for the EV6, but it’s expected to have a starting price of around $65,000.
The first models to arrive will be the base EV6 and EV6 GT-Line, with the range-topping 430kW EV6 GT to arrive in late 2022 or early 2023 depending on production schedules.
For more on the Australian launch rollout, click here.
Australian specifications will be confirmed closer to launch, but expect the following equipment to be available if not standard depending on variant:
- Dual 12.3-inch displays (driver instruments + infotainment)
- Multifunction touch bar for climate controls
- V2L (Vehicle-to-load) capability
- 800V high-speed charging system
- LED headlights
- Wireless charging pad
- Augmented reality (AR) head-up display
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Adaptive cruise control
- Blind-spot assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Heat pump
- Powered tailgate
The 2022 Kia EV6 hasn’t been tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP yet.
However, available safety equipment will include:
- AEB with Junction Assist and pedestrian/cyclist detection
- Adaptive front lighting (for high-spec headlights)
- Blind-spot assist
- Rear cross-traffic assist
- Highway Driving Assist 2 (adaptive cruise + lane centring)
- Intelligent speed limit assist
- Reverse parking collision avoidance assist
- Remote smart parking
- Surround view monitor
There’s a real upswing from Kia in design for the interior of the EV6, and it’s every bit as striking as the exterior.
Grabbing your attention right away is the gently curved digital dashboard that incorporates two 12.3-inch widescreen displays, and a flattish-bottomed two-spoke steering wheel. Other switchgear, such as for the temperature and the main menu functions, are accessible via a touch bar below the air vents.
A broad centre console contains the main start button that is nicely angled to greet you as you get in – and this panel is partly capped by a cool metallic finish across the top.
More touch-sensitive controls for the heated steering wheel and seats (with heating/ventilation) are at the end, though it doesn’t extend to join the main dashboard. Instead, it has a floating appearance that affords greater access to storage beneath and for several charging ports.
Another nifty feature is how the front seats, at the touch of a button, can electrically recline like a long-haul business class seat so passengers can relax or even have a nap while the car is charging.
The front seats have an unusual shape, but they provide plenty of comfort over longer journeys and it’s very easy to find a comfortable driving position.
Rear passenger space is excellent, with ample legroom and decent headroom — even the middle seat isn’t badly compromised thanks to the flat floor across the back.
There’s 520 litres of boot space, and with the 60:40 rear seats folded the cargo capacity rises to 1300 litres.
Mostly it’s a 52-litre compartment in the front that’s useful for holding charging cables.
Shame you still need to open it by pulling a lever in the footwell, so it’s not as convenient as the rear boot space. In all-wheel drive models this front storage drops to 20 litres.
Kia lists four powertrain options for the EV6, starting with a rear-wheel-drive 125kW version powered by a 58kWh battery. That same battery can also be paired with a dual-motor all-wheel-drive configuration that produces 173kW and 605Nm for a 6.2-second sprint from 0 to 100km/h.
The larger capacity 77.4kWh battery can also be paired with rear- or all-wheel drive too. The former develops 168kW/350Nm and can cover up to 528 kilometres on a single charge, while the dual-motor EV6 with the long-range battery gets 239kW and 605Nm with a driving range of 472 kilometres.
Eventually there will be the range-topping EV6 GT. This model will only use the 77.4kWh battery and its outputs increase to 430kW and 740Nm, meaning it will be able to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a supercar-baiting 3.5 seconds.
Its long wheelbase and wide wheel track, combined with a low centre of gravity, mean the Kia EV6 doesn’t drive like a conventional SUV, certainly not one that tips the scales at 2105kg in all-wheel drive guise.
Kia employs a clever new damper arrangement designed to mechanically adapt to the road surface and strike a balance between comfort and control. In action it works very well and does a fantastic job rounding off sharper objects like speed humps without jarring through the cabin.
There are three main driving modes (plus a snow mode) that alter the level of performance on tap.
Eco mode does the usual trick of dulling down the responsiveness of the electric motor to maximise driving range, and the paddles behind the steering wheel also let you set different levels of energy recuperation via braking – the strongest enabling a one-pedal driving feel though it won’t come to a complete stop.
Along the narrow winding mountain roads of our test route, the EV6 behaved remarkably well and its ability to rotate on tighter apexes and rapidly change direction without any loss of composure belies the lengthy wheelbase. Switching up to ‘Sport’ mode unleashes the full potential of that electric powertrain.
Driving the rear-wheel-drive and dual-motor versions back-to-back highlighted what a difference all that extra torque makes. The extra motor helps to slingshot the EV6 out of corners at quite a rate, so the forthcoming EV6 GT should be phenomenal.
In more sensible scenarios the Kia cruises on the highway with little noise seeping into the cabin, and the consumption levels hover around 21-24kWh/100km depending on conditions and driving style.
Rearward visibility is limited due to the roof and window design, but the Blind Spot View Monitor camera feeds that appear in the instrument cluster when you activate the indicators help.
The rest of the assistance systems work well without being overly intrusive.
If you’re charging at home and have a competitive utility rate, then the EV6 shouldn’t cost that much to run.
Kia states that the 168kW rear-wheel-drive EV6 in standard specification consumes 16.5kWh/100km when running on 19-inch wheels.
The official consumption rate for the 77.4kWh rear-wheel-drive EV6 GT-Line is 17.2kWh/100km on 20-inch wheels. That official energy consumption figure climbs slightly to 18.4kWh/100km for cars with all-wheel drive.
All new Kia cars in Australia are accompanied by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty and an offer of seven years of capped price servicing, so you don’t get any unexpected surprises when the bill arrives.
There’s 12 months of complementary roadside assistance cover that can be extended up to eight years if you service with your Kia dealer, too.
The Kia EV6 is a thoroughly accomplished electric car that drives with finesse and is engaging enough to keep keener drivers interested.
While its exterior design isn’t as polarising as some rivals, it’s still something of a new direction for Kia and one that perhaps not everyone will like.
Aside from the excellent cabin design and fitout, it’s a highly practical car with plenty of space. An abundance of safety features and in-car tech ensures its place at the sharp end of the segment.
But it’s that polished driving experience and reasonably efficient powertrain that seals it for the Kia. Generous levels of refinement and a cultured suspension setup are the icing on the cake.
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MORE: Everything Kia EV6