How the Kia EV6 was designed for the future

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The new EV6 signals the future direction of Kia’s design and technical philosophy.

The mechanical layout of an electric vehicle affords automotive designers more freedom than if they were drawing metal to shroud a traditional drivetrain. There’s also the temptation/expectation that the design of an electric vehicle must project a Tron-like futurism. While early adopters and those who want to signal their purchase choice gravitate to a design that shouts its EV-credentials, many consumers find overt displays of futurism off putting.

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For us, the Kia EV6 strikes an impressive balance of signalling its future-facing design and technological direction, while offering something familiar to customers who aren’t quite ready to leap into the realms of sci-fi design. It also doesn’t hurt that the rear of the EV6 has more than a passing resemblance to the Aston Martin DBX, especially when finished in the stunning Moonscape Matte of our test example.

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Karim Habib, Head of Kia Global Design, explains the philosophy and inspiration behind the new EV6; “The EV6 is the blueprint of our future product. It defines the brand we want to be and the customers that we want to speak to. The EV6 is born out of our ambitions to create bold, original and inventive products. We want to strike a balance between contrasting elements – the sportiness of a fastback, the compact stance of a hatch and maybe even the raw strength of a rally car.”

Under Karim Habib’s direction, the exterior of the EV6 was designed by Luc Donckerwolke, a name that will be familiar to Lamborghini fans. During more than a decade at the Volkswagen Group, Belgium-born Donckerwolke was responsible for some of the Group’s most enduring designs, including the Lamborghini Murcielago and Gallardo, and Audi’s original A7. He’s clearly not lost his touch as the EV6 is a striking-looking vehicle, more fastback than upright cross-over.

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During our time with the EV6, it drew admiring glances and positive comments from numerous sources. While positivity from inner-city-types was to be expected, we were twice engaged by burly high-vis-wearing tradies who wanted to know everything about the EV6 and when it was launching. Both commented on how much they liked the looks of the bold new Kia.

The boldness continues inside with an interior that heralds a new design direction for Kia.

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Jochen Paesen, Head of Kia Interior Design, explains his process for the EV6: “We are attracted by the exterior of cars, but we fall in love with the interior, where we spend most of our time. For the EV6, designing an inspiring space was one of the most important things for us. We believe that every element that creates an interior space can boost people’s creativity and inspire them. It’s certainly not just about putting a big screen on the dashboard.”

And while the EV6 does feature a big screen, it’s beautifully integrated within the overall design ethos of the cabin. Twin 12.3-inch screens are used for the infotainment display and instrument cluster, and they arc across the top of the dash in a sophisticated curve.

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Jochen Paesen also explains the freedoms granted by the flat-floor-layout: “Space innovation starts with the foundation; the platform. The EV6 is Kia’s first vehicle to apply a new dedicated EV platform [the E-GMP]. With a flat floor, it allows for diverse interior layouts.”

Another benefit of the skateboard platform is that the wheelbase and track can be stretched relative to the overall dimensions of the vehicle. Though relatively compact at 4680mm in length (4695mm for GT-Line models) and 1880mm in width (10mm wider for GT-Line), the EV6 sits on an enormous 2900mm wheelbase.

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Sustainability measures don’t stop with the drivetrain either, but include extensive use of recycled material for interior trim, most notably the carpet. In fact, the interior of each new Kia EV6 features the equivalent of over 100 500mL plastic bottles.

Read more on the new Kia EV6 in our exclusive special feature.

Jesse Taylor

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