Kia EV6 First Drive Review

Following the Soul and the popular e-Niro, this new EV6 is Kia’s third all-electric model on offer in showrooms with a choice of two or four-wheel drive and range of up to 328 miles.

  • Kia EV6 001
  • Kia EV6 001
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
  • Kia EV6
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/ Engine size: Kia EV6 GT Line S AWD
  • Fuel: Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP combined): 302 miles

Summary

  • Choice of rear or four-wheel drive
  • One battery version available – 77.4kW
  • 302 mile range (rear-wheel drive version – 328 miles)
  • Focus on sporty driving experience

Background

Kia’s electrified vehicle range is gathering pace with this third EV to enter its showrooms and with plans to introduce 11 new EVs by 2026. And, with 1,500 orders already for this new EV6, along with its sister brand Hyundai, Kia looks set to continue its dominance in the market.

Kia EV6Kia EV6

Design and Engineering

You might have thought that this Kia EV6 was a reworked version of the IONIQ 5, but think again. While there are some crossover parts, this Kia has a bigger 77.4kWh battery and a longer range than its Hyundai counterpart along with fastback looks.

The traditional Kia tiger-face grille is now formed with LED lights, while the front wings bulge upwards and there’s duck-tail rear end framed by a strip of LED lights that isn’t entirely unlike the rear of the Aston DBX SUV. Looking even better in the metal than in pictures, we think it’s nothing short of stunning.

Inside, there’s the same twin landscape screens as the IONIQ 5 with a digital display in front of the driver and a head-up display. However, there’s also a slimmer secondary multi-mode display mounted centrally on the dash just below the main screen. That can cleverly switch between ventilation controls or shortcuts for the infotainment system and will appear on more Kias in the future including the forthcoming new Sportage.

Again unlike the IONIQ 5, the EV6 will only be offered in the UK with a single battery choice with 77.4kWh in either two or four-wheel drive and a choice of three trim levels – Air, GT Line and GT Line S. A flagship GT version will arrive in late 2022 with the equivalent of 577bhp and an eye-watering 0 to 60mph time of 3.5 seconds.

Kia EV6Kia EV6

Driving Experience

When it comes to its on-road feel, Kia is keen to drawn a line through any comparisons with the Hyundai IONIQ 5. The wheelbase on the EV6 is shorter, with thicker anti-roll bars and improved damping and it’s essentially been engineered to be more fun to drive.

That’s intimated with its fastback-style silhouette and those bulging front wings which help you to place the car on the road when driving enthusiastically. There are effectively six different modes for the regenerative braking operated via the paddles behind the steering wheel.

The four basic modes start at zero and rise to three, then there is an iPedal mode which provides very strong regen allowing one pedal driving as it will bring the car to a complete stop if required. Lastly there is also an auto mode which adjusts the level of braking based on the navigation system and also the forward radar.

The reality is that all of the modes work well but, like the IONIQ 5, the iPedal mode is quite strong and probably best used for busier urban roads. We preferred to adjust it manually between the four standard modes according to the roads we were on and our driving mood.

However, start to drive the EV6 with a degree of verve and two things become immediately obvious. The first is its weight, with this all-wheel drive model tipping the scales at a rugby player over two tonnes (the rear-wheel drive car is 105kgs less). You never really escape that fact, but in reality with the weight set so low down, it’s less of an issue than you might at first imagine.

The second most obvious thing however is that Kia has succeeded in tuning the EV6 for driver enjoyment, particularly in the rear-wheel drive versions. As mentioned earlier, those front wings enable you to place the car perfectly through corners, the steering has a good amount of feel and, with little body roll too, it really builds your confidence to drive it hard through bends.

While we took advantage of some suitably empty mountain roads during an early morning drive, it’s no exaggeration to say that we think the EV6 could be one of the most engaging electric cars we’ve driven since the Porsche Taycan. We’ll reserve our final judgment until we’ve driven it on UK roads, but our initial impression is very positive and bodes well for the sportier GT model.

Kia EV6Kia EV6

Driving Range and Charging

No matter whatever logical arguments about range you might have, the fact is that specific numbers can count for a lot psychologically – it’s why items are priced in shops at £9.99 rather than £10.

And it’s here where the EV6 might really win emotionally. The reason is that while the headline figure of a 328 mile range for the rear-wheel drive Air and GT Line will convince most buyers, even the least efficient model – the four-wheel drive GT Line S – still has a range of 302 miles. Until that sporty GT model arrives, it means that every version of the EV6 has a range that starts with a ‘3’ – for many that’s likely to be a convincing argument.

It’s pretty efficient too with Kia claiming an energy consumption of 3.45mls/kWh for the GT Line S in all-wheel drive form. During our test drives however, including a mix of hard driving and motorway cruising and all with the air conditioning on, we still bettered that with 3.8mls/kWh. The rear-wheel drive Air and GT Line models return an official 3.76mls/kWh.

At an ultra-rapid charger, Kia claims a 10 to 80 per cent charge in just 18 minutes, while at an 11kW wallbox, a full charge will take 7 hours and 20 minutes.

Downloading the Kia Charge app, you can choose between ‘Easy’ or ‘Plus’ and pay a £1.99 download fee and charging session fee with ‘Easy’ or a £2.99 monthly subscription with ‘Plus’ but no session fee each time. Both give substantial discounts on roadside charging and even allow you to book charge points in advance too. If you’re regularly charging at rapid points, then the app is worth the download fee alone – on the Ionity network it reduces the rate from 69p/kWh to 25p/kWh.

Kia EV6Kia EV6

Price and Model Range

While this flagship all-wheel drive GT Line S will set you back £51,945, the EV6 range actually starts from £40,945. There is a £3,500 step from the rear-wheel drive models up to those with all-wheel drive, although the entry-level Air only comes in the former.

This simplicity of the range continues with the options as well – there’s only two, premium paint and a heat pump.

Kia EV6Kia EV6

Conclusion

Those prices don’t tell the whole of the EV6 story though. What does is the fact that Kia is already sitting on 1,500 pre-orders for the EV6, around 1,000 of which should be delivered this year. And, of those pre-orders, so far the majority have been bought by retail customers (though the fleet side is expected to grow rapidly) and that 80-90 per cent are new to Kia. The majority are also this top-of-the-range GT Line S. Crucial too are the part-exchange cars being offered in return – Teslas, BMW 5-Series’ and high-end VWs.

And all of that tells you a lot about the weight of expectation behind the EV6, but also the people buying it, both now and in the future. With a great driving experience and that decent range, we think that the EV6 could well be one of the plug-in hits of 2022.

Car facts and figures Kia EV6 First Drive Review

  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0g/km
  • Electric driving range (WLTP Combined): 302 miles
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED): £0 year 1
  • Benefit in kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2021/22): 1%
  • Price: £51,495
  • Insurance group: 40A
  • Power: 325PS
  • Torque: 605Nm
  • Max speed: 115mph
  • 0-62mph: 5.2 seconds
  • Weight: 2090kg

Review by:
Nat Barnes, Contributor