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Kia EV6 Review

Introduction

The next generation of electric cars has arrived, and this is Kia’s idea of the family car of the future. Except, of course, you can order one today. It’s called the EV6, and it’s basically a foil to sister brand Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 SUV. The Kia is the sportier looking of the two, while the Hyundai looks more premium and more practical, but they both work on essentially similar underpinnings.

That means you get the latest technology both in the cabin and under the skin, so the EV6 promises an impressive real-world range and equally potent performance figures. But in an automotive world undergoing something of a transition, the EV6 doesn’t just have to compete with other electric cars – it has to take on the established elite, too. So does it have enough about it?

Select's rating score* - 4.4 / 5

At a Glance

The first thing you notice about the EV6 is its sheer bulk. Like the Ioniq 5, it looks far smaller in pictures than it does on the road, and that only serves to make the Kia’s futuristic design look even more striking. It also makes the EV6 difficult to pigeon-hole. Is it a family SUV, a big hatchback, or a sporty five-door coupe? You decide.

Anyway, this is a new generation of car, and perhaps such archaic genres are no longer relevant. The Kia exists to make driving an electric car cooler and more practical all at once, injecting a competent and capable car with a smattering of desirability not normally seen in the Kia stable.

The result is a family car that demands to be taken seriously, even though it will still light your fire if you choose to put your foot down. You get a choice of battery and motor options, but none really changes the car’s character. It’s a refined, relaxing way of getting from A to B, albeit one that will shift when the mood takes you. As a result, all the trim levels are suitably sporty, and you get plenty of equipment as standard.


Key Features

EV6 customers are sure to love the dual screens that dominate the car’s cabin. Fitted as standard on every model, the two combine to create a digital instrument cluster and touchscreen infotainment system that sit side-by-side. Seamlessly integrated, the systems are beautifully presented and logically laid out, making them easier to use than competitor products from, say, the Volkswagen Group.

The two screens also work in tandem with the head-up display, which sadly isn’t standard, but comes with the GT-Line S and GT models. It’s a great system that includes augmented reality tech that essentially shows you which way to turn at a junction, rather than relying on your map-reading capabilities.


Range & Batteries

There’s only one battery on offer with the EV6: a 77.4 kWh lithium-ion pack that will offer up to 328 miles of range. To achieve that, however, you’ll need to choose the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive powertrains and either the Air or GT-Line versions. Choose the GT-Line S, and the range falls to 313 miles, while opting for the all-wheel-drive powertrain will leave you with 314 miles of range. And if you choose the all-wheel-drive GT-Line S, you’ll have 300 miles between trips to the plug.

Of course, these are official figures, and the real world probably won’t see you achieve such great distances on a charge – particularly if you’re tempted by the instant acceleration. But if you’re careful, you should be able to manage 250 miles over a mixture of roads. And on a long motorway run, 200 miles should be easily achievable.

Performance & Drive

At present, EV6 customers have a choice of two different battery-electric powertrains, although neither has a particularly dramatic effect on the driving experience. The ‘basic’ option is the rear-wheel-drive, single-motor version with 229hp, but there’s also a twin-motor, all-wheel-drive version with 325hp.

With so much power on offer, perhaps it’s no surprise to find both feel punchy and perky on the road. The more powerful, all-wheel-drive version is naturally the faster of the two, dashing from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds, but the rear-drive car’s 7.3-second 0-62mph time is hardly slow. And thanks to the instant torque of electric motors, both cars accelerate instantly and often feel faster than their performance figures would suggest.


However, the two existing powertrains will soon be supplemented by a range-topping GT model, which will arrive with 585hp and four-wheel drive, making it noticeably faster than its stablemates. Exact figures are yet to be announced, but expect a 0-62mph time of just over three seconds.

The key differences between the rear- and all-wheel-drive cars are found in inclement weather, where the rear-drive cars feel a tad more tail-happy and marginally less stable than their all-wheel-drive siblings. And if you live somewhere prone to snowfall, you might find the security of the twin-motor cars more to your taste.

In the dry, and aside from the small difference in performance, there’s little to choose between the rear- and all-wheel-drive set-ups. Both feel quite heavy – mainly because they are quite heavy – and that shows on the road. They’re quite agile for their size, but they don’t exactly dance through the corners; they lumber.

The ride is similarly compromised by the EV6’s weight, with the whole vehicle sagging into potholes and over sharp bumps, which spoils an otherwise supple chassis. But when you’re out on the motorway, the EV6 feels smooth, quiet and refined, which makes it a very pleasant car in which to spend long journeys.


Charging

With big batteries on board, it’s best to invest in a domestic ‘wallbox’ charging unit so you can top up the EV6 overnight. Filling the 77.4 kWh battery from 10 to 100% on a three-pin socket will take 32 hours and 45 minutes, though you are much better off getting a dedicated 7.4 kW charging point installed for faster, safer charging. Alternatively, if you can hook up to a 50 kW charging point, filling the car from 10 to 80% will take 73 minutes, and a 350 kW charger will manage the same feat in just 18 minutes. Assuming you can find one.


Running Costs & Emissions

As you might expect from an electric car, running the EV6 will cost peanuts. If you can charge the batteries at home and you get a sensible, off-peak electricity tariff, you’ll pay very little to keep your EV6 moving. However, if you have to charge away from home, it’s worth noting public charging points can get expensive, so it's worth investing in some memberships to help keep the costs down.

If you’re a company car driver, things get even cheaper. As part of the government’s drive to incentivise electric vehicles, the company car tax rates are pathetically low. For the foreseeable future, the Benefit-in-Kind tax rate is going to remain in single figures, making these cars enormously attractive as company-funded wheels.

Interior & Technology

The first thing you notice about the cockpit of the EV6 is the sense of space. The passenger seat feels a long way away, and so too does the dashboard. Where some cars tuck you in among the switches and dials, the EV6 wraps you in a bubble of air.

Everything looks very modern, except for the ugly two-spoke steering wheel, and everything is angled towards the driver to make it feel more spaceship-ish. The big screens that make up the instrument cluster and infotainment system are both included as standard, and they give the whole car a real air of modernity. It helps that they’re both crystal clear and beautifully presented, making it easy to decipher what’s going on when you’re on the move.


Somewhat less simple is the heating control arrangement, which doubles as the multimedia control system. Yes, that is as confusing as it sounds. There’s a haptic ‘button’ somewhere on the panel that switches the function of the buttons and dials, swapping climate control settings for multimedia functions. It’s kind of clever, but it leaves you reaching for the satellite navigation zoom function and turning the heat up. Not ideal.

Even less ideal are the haptic buttons on the front of the centre console. Only fitted on GT-Line S models to provide seat heating and ventilation functions, the buttons are all too easy to press while you’re bracing your hand to use the heater controls, so you can find yourself accidentally cooling your backside while heating the air in the cabin. Again, it isn’t ideal.

All that said, the overall quality of the EV6 is excellent, with every button feeling robust and substantial, while the quality of the cabin plastics and upholstery is generally exemplary. The only gripe is with the shiny black plastic on the centre console, which feels a little too cheap and will soon look grubby after a few mucky mitts have passed over it.


Practicality & Boot Space

Those in the front will find the EV6 enormously spacious, with a big gap between the two front seats and ample head-room, as well as enough adjustment in the seat to get comfy. Because the car is quite large, there’s plenty of legroom in the back, too, but headroom is at more of a premium. That said, only the very tallest rear-seat passengers will be grazing the swoopy roof, so it shouldn’t count against the EV6 as a family car.

The Kia also has a fairly capacious boot, with 490 litres of space when the rear seats are upright. That makes it marginally smaller than the boots of the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford Mustang Mach-E, but noticeably larger than that of the Polestar 2. It’s certainly going to be enough for most customers, with bags of room for golf clubs and holiday luggage. There’s also a ‘frunk’ under what would normally be the bonnet, providing extra storage. In the rear-drive versions, that’s a useful 52-litre space, but it shrinks to just 20 litres in the all-wheel-drive cars.


Safety

The EV6 has not yet been crash tested by Euro NCAP, but we’ve every reason to believe it would score highly. For starters, the Ioniq 5 uses the same underpinnings and received five stars, while other Kia models have also earned the top score. The Sorento, Stonic and Rio have all achieved five stars in recent years.

Then there’s the sheer amount of tech designed to stop accidents happening. There’s a collision avoidance system that’s supposed to stop you crashing into pedestrians, cyclists and, of course, other vehicles. You also get a lane-keeping system that holds the car in its lane and works with the adaptive cruise control to work as a driver back-up system to keep the car in its lane and a safe distance from the car in front if the driver’s attention wanes. And the car knows the speed limit and adjusts the settings accordingly.

Options

Until the forthcoming GT model arrives, the EV6 offers customers a choice of three different trim levels. Air is the basic model, with the GT-Line and GT-Line S models sitting above that.

The Air versions are hardly Spartan, though, with “vegan leather” upholstery and 19-inch alloy wheels as standard, plus the 12.3-inch navigation system and digital driver display, which houses the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone tech, as well as a reversing camera. Rear parking sensors are also thrown in, along with Bluetooth connectivity and a host of safety gadgets.


If you feel the need, you can move up to the GT-Line version to get sportier bodywork, suede upholstery and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The upgrade also earns you wireless phone charging and front parking sensors, not to mention some extra safety kit and sporty-looking alloy pedals.

The GT-Line S model ups the ante yet again, giving you 20-inch rims, heated front and rear seats, as well as ventilation for the front seats. You also get a power-operated tailgate, a head-up display and a 360-degree manoeuvring camera, plus a Meridian sound system with 14 speakers.

When it arrives, the GT model will crown the range, offering all the equipment of the GT-Line S but adding 21-inch alloy wheels, neon green stitching in the upholstery and some trick chassis features including a limited-slip differential for extra traction and electronically controlled suspension.

Rival Cars

The EV6’s closest rival is its sister car, the Hyundai Ioniq 5. An altogether less sporty proposition, the Ioniq feels slightly more premium, but it’s softer and more practical. In comparison, the Kia is the sportier and more stylish choice.

Another key alternative is the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is even sweeter to drive than the EV6, albeit slightly less striking to look at. And though the Polestar 2 is neither sexier nor sportier than the EV6, its Scandi style and clean, high-tech interior will appeal to plenty of customers.

Then there’s the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y, which come with some pretty impressive driver assistance technology, huge touchscreens and minimalist designs, but don’t have the build quality of the Kia. And yes, you read that correctly.

But the EV6 isn’t just up against electric vehicles now. Most customers will be moving from internal combustion-powered cars, including the likes of the Skoda Octavia, BMW 3 Series and Audi A5. Compared with those vehicles, the EV6 is more striking, more refined and faster, as well as cheaper to run. However, it isn’t as good to drive as the BMW, and it isn’t as comfortable as the Octavia.

Verdict & Next Steps

The EV6 is a brilliant electric SUV that offers an appealing mix of range, performance and quality, as well as eye-catching looks. The refinement is exemplary, and it’s a great demonstration of how far Kia has come. A South Korean brand that once built budget hatchbacks has now created something that could genuinely be called premium, high-quality and cutting-edge. If this is the future of family cars, then bring it on.

Where to next?

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**Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Kia EV6

**Correct as of 05/11/2021. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £3643.74 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.



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