New Kia EV6 2021 review
With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
Kia’s first bespoke EV is another triumph for the brand, and a car that wears its £40k-plus list price with ease. It’s not quite as practical overall as its sibling, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, but it counters this with tighter body control for a slightly more sporty drive. Factor in great in-car tech and stellar battery management that’ll take you comfortably north of 300 miles on a single charge and you have one of the best EVs on sale today, at any price.
Kia is on a roll with some of its more conventional models - such as the Sorento SUV, which has a healthy order bank and a waiting list that stretches well into 2022. But the firm is pushing ahead with electrification too. The likes of the e-Niro and Soul EV remain strong propositions, and now the Korean brand is about to introduce a new pure-electric flagship to its line-up: the EV6.
We were impressed by a late prototype version of the car that we tried earlier this year, but now we’ve had a chance to sample more of the range, in full ready-to-buy form and on UK roads.
To recap, the EV6 is a sportily styled crossover that sits on a new bespoke electric-car architecture, called E-GMP - the same platform that underpins our reigning Car of the Year, the Hyundai Ioniq 5. It’s available with two configurations to start with - 321bhp four-wheel-drive form, and the more affordable single-motor, 226bhp rear-drive version that we’re trying here. The usable battery capacity is 77.4kWh regardless of which motor set-up you choose - and for now at least, Kia UK has no plans to offer the smaller-battery version that’s available in other countries.
A single motor means, of course, that the more modest version of the EV6 is actually the version that promises the greatest range - 328 miles, in this case, compared with the 314 miles offered by the four-wheel-drive edition. And all EV6s get an 800V electrical backbone that can deliver up to 350kW DC charging - enough to take the battery from 10 to 80 per cent of its capacity in just 18 minutes. You’ll need to allow around seven and a half hours to perform the same function on a home wallbox.
The top speeds are identical between the rear-drive and four-wheel-drive cars, at 114mph, but having that extra motor will trim a couple of seconds from the 0-62mph time. Even so, the rear-drive car’s figure of 7.3 seconds could hardly be called slow.
There’s still 350Nm of torque on tap here, in fact, and that’s enough to take the two tonnes of EV6 (it follows the Ioniq 5 by being a larger vehicle in the metal than it looks in images) up to the UK’s speed limits without any real drama. There’s lots of instant EV punch, even if you’re in the efficiency-focused Eco mode, and more than enough real-world performance for rapid cross-country driving and overtakes in the car’s Normal setting.
Flick the steering wheel button into Sport mode and the EV6 livens up further - to the point, in fact, where the chassis becomes overwhelmed by what you’re throwing at it. The increased throttle and steering response are comical for a while, but the whole process quickly becomes unruly on twistier, bumpier roads. We’d wager that most owners will try this setting once, then leave it well alone; we certainly would.
It’s a shame to expose the limits of the chassis, in fact, because in the most part the combination of MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link rear end does a good job of staying composed. Sharp road imperfections will thunk through to the cabin, true, but no more so than they would in many other models. And in general, the EV6’s body feels a little more tied down than an Ioniq 5’s - perhaps as a consequence of a slightly firmer set-up overall, as well as a lower roofline delivering a marginally lower centre of gravity.
Kia has also done a good job on mechanical transference, minimising the sort of suspension and motor noise and that can be so much more evident on near-silent-running EVs. Indeed, with the rear motor tucked away behind you, at the end of a long wheelbase, there’s precious little whine to speak of at all. It’s quickly drowned out by tyre roar, which is the noise you’ll notice most at any more than walking pace.
Like Hyundai, Kia has a solid reputation when it comes to battery management, but E-GMP seems set to deliver even greater progress in this area. Over a mixed route of UK roads, including motorway, urban crawls and what can only be called a spirited approach to empty A and B-roads, our test car returned 4.2 miles per kWh. Extrapolate that with the usable battery energy on offer and you end up with a real-world figure of 325 miles - just three miles off the official WLTP tally, and that includes periods spent flicking through Normal and Sport modes, instead of spending the duration of the journey in Eco.
Inside, the dashboard is dominated, on all EV6s, by a pair of 12.3-inch curved displays, each housing a crisp, clear digital instrument panel and a widescreen infotainment system that is typically slick to use, with bags of processing power. The dash itself has a useful ledge on which to balance a hand before prodding the screen, and there’s also a novel approach to a touch-sensitive panel in the lower part of the fascia. This area can flick between control of the car’s heating and ventilation and its audio systems; it’s a neat use of space for two sets of functions that don’t require constant adjustment.
Kia has done a good job on materials, too; there are hard finishes, yes, but you’ll have to actively hunt them out. The vast majority of the finishes - chrome, fabric elements and gloss-black lacquer - feel up to scratch for a car of this price.
The rear cabin is a little less convincing. There’s a flat floor, of course, so it’ll house three adults without them complaining about a raised central tunnel, or their knees hitting the front seat backs. But that lower roofline does impact on headroom a little, especially compared with the cabin of the more upright Ioniq 5. If you regularly need to carry six-footers in the back, then the Hyundai will be your better bet.
The boot capacity, meanwhile, is a useful 490 litres, and there’s a variable-height floor in the storage area so you can prioritise either outright space or a flat loading lip. There are securing hooks for a floor net but, as with the Ioniq 5, there’s a disappointing lack of proper hooks to help keep shopping bags in place.
Rear-drive models also get a handy 52-litre hard-plastic storage box under the bonnet that’s ideal for holding wet charging cables; the four-wheel-drive versions make do with a smaller 20-litre set-up here.
The single-motor configuration is available across all three of the EV6’s trim levels. The entry point, Air, doesn’t feel particularly hard done by inside in terms of materials and finish, and it gets plenty of equipment, including both of those curved displays, rear parking sensors and a reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers and heated front seats. But we’d recommend the middle option, GT-Line, which still sits on sensible 19-inch alloy wheels and still comes with oodles of kit; dual LED headlights, rear privacy glass, suede upholstery, a wireless phone charger and front parking sensors are all standard.
Kia EV6 GT-Line 77.4kWh RWD
Single-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
350kW (0-80% in 18 min)