2022 Kia EV6 Review

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Kia EV6 2022 Review 1

With a sporty drive, 480-plus kays of range and plenty of tech – could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?

Following on from our European first drive review of the new Kia EV6, we are now driving the model in right-hand drive and similar to the model which will be in Australia in the first-half of 2022. Locally, Kia is expecting to have 500 units available but staggered throughout the year, which means initial allocation could be sold out as fast as the Ioniq 5.

Kia is on a roll with some of its more conventional models – such as the Sorento and new Sportage SUVs. But the South Korean company is pushing ahead with electrification too. The likes of the e-Niro and Soul EV have been its main propositions – the latter never available in Australia – and now the Korean brand is about to introduce a new pure-electric flagship to its line-up: the EV6.

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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 right-hand drive 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 the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Kia Australia’s website suggests that it’s available with two configurations to start with (yet to be confirmed, though); one in 239kW all-wheel-drive form, and the more affordable single-motor, 168kW rear-drive version that we’re trying here. The usable battery capacity is 77.4kWh regardless of which motor set-up you choose. There are smaller battery versions but it seems Kia has no plans to offer that in RHD yet.

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A single motor means, of course, that the more modest version of the EV6 is actually the version that promises the greatest range – 528km, in this case, compared with the 505km 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 180km/h, but having that extra motor will trim a couple of seconds from the 0-100km/h time. Even so, the rear-drive car’s figure of 7.3 seconds could hardly be called slow.

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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 speed limit 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 6.7km per kWh. Extrapolate that with the usable battery energy on offer and you end up with a real-world figure of 523km – just 5km 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.

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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.

Overall, Kia’s first bespoke EV is another triumph for the brand, although its local pricing and specification remains to be seen. 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 480km on a single charge and you have one of the best EVs on sale today, at any price.

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2022 Kia EV6 Price and Specs

Model: Kia EV6 77.4kWh RWD
Price: $65,000 (est)
Engine/battery: 1xe-motor/77.4kWh (usable)
Power/torque: 168kW/350Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
0-100km/h: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 180km/h
Range: 528km
Max charging: 350kW (0-80% in 18 min)
On sale: First-half 2022 (Australia)

 

John McIlroy

Final Verdict:
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