Kia’s new EV creates a distinct identity from its Hyundai Ioniq 5 sibling.
15/3/22 Update: This review has been updated with test results for the EV6 GT-Line AWD model.
We liked the Kia Imagine concept, which debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. It is balancedly designed, with taillights reminiscent of the Kia Stinger and an oversized variant of the brand’s “tiger nose” grille. But it seems somewhat lacking the almost limitless potential that Hyundai Group’s flexible E-GMP power platform offers. When Kia decided to quickly put it into production, design director Luc Donckerwolke demanded a comprehensive redesign. He placed a team of designers in a secluded location in Bavaria and left them a sample of Lancia Stratos for inspiration.
It seems his approach has worked: With its thin and low front end, long greenhouse, sculptural fenders, and an extremely powerful rear end with a surprising light effect, the Kia EV6 looks unlike anything else on the road. And that includes its closest brethren, the classic futuristic-style Hyundai Ioniq 5 and the soft-style Genesis GV60. The Kia EV6 pays homage to the Stratos – not only its tail but also the helmet-like greenhouse.
The Kia EV6 will be launched in the U.S. in three levels: the $42,115 Light RWD comes with a 58.0 kWh battery and 167 horsepower from the rear engine; The $48,215 Wind RWD and the $52,415 GT-Line RWD are equipped with a 77.4 kWh battery and have 225 horsepower from the same engine; The $52,115 Wind AWD and the $57,115 GT-Line AWD retain the same 77.4 kWh battery pack and add a front engine to a total of 320 horsepower.
(A 576 hp GT is set to arrive later.) The 320 hp GT-Line AWD is the model we originally drove in Europe and actually the specs are the same as the U.S. version that we just tested at home. .
HIGHS: High-end interior, fast charging ability, light foot.
When you get close to the EV6, the door handle will automatically expand. You step into it like a car going low; Kia calls the EV6 a crossover, but it’s less convincing than those from Audi, Ford and Volkswagen. Although the wheelbase has been shortened by 4 inches compared to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, it is still long compared to the overall length. And that means ample interior space at both the front and back. There’s also a small section, but you’ll find a medium-sized plastic box instead of a fully clad luggage space.
We like comfortable chairs, which are covered with rough black microfibers with striking light gray stripes. There is a smart USB port on the back of the seat for rear passengers, who enjoy plenty of space on their own. The floating center console has a start/stop button, a circular gear selector, and a wireless phone charger. Two screens, the center of a sensitive touch, stretch out in front of the driver. The steering wheel is a futuristic two-spoke design. This interior doesn’t try to emulate conventional cars, instead emphasizing that the EV6 is something different.
You should take the time to switch over to different styles for digital measuring devices, to adjust or turn off artificial sounds in space, and to familiarize yourself with driving modes and recovery settings. The Meridian sound system sounds great. However, we are not impressed by the interface and performance of the navigation system as well as the menu structure of the infotainment system.
The GT-Line AWD’s 320 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque produce an instant throttle response and have enough power to maintain continued power. We measured the sprint speed by 4.5 seconds to 60 mph. The steering system is accurate, the body is less overturned and the ability to grip the road is good with a road grip of 0.86 g. This car feels lighter than its 4647 pound weight. The braking system is powerful and easy to adjust, with the braking force adjusted through the paddle on the steering wheel. And we noticed no hissing and creek in the quiet cabin.
LOW: The tiny, higher-priced Frunk than the closely related Hyundai Ioniq 5.
The EV6 AWD is rated by the EPA at a range of 274 miles, which we find ambitious, at least the way we’re driving. At about 80 mph, you’re lucky to be 200 miles out of it. That range is good for an EV but not game-changing.
At least an 800 volt architecture and 350 kW DC fast charging capability will allow for fast charging; Kia promises to “add nearly 70 miles in less than 5 minutes” and the ability to charge from 10 to 80 percent in less than 18 minutes. However, our hands-on experience from Europe shows that advertised charging performance can only be achieved at mild temperatures, not in the cold weather of winter.
The Kia EV6 has a strut and multi-link rear suspension setup, and we’ve been impressed with the implementation and adjustment. The steering system is precise, the lower part is tightly controlled and the ability to grip the road is very good thanks to the Michelin Pilot Sport 4 set of tires on 20-inch wheels. The braking system is capable and easy to adjust, and unlike the Ioniq 5, the EV6 does not tend to undulate and bounce when driving bumpy surfaces. The rolling body is less surprising, and this car feels a lot lighter than its actual weight.
Of course, the Kia EV6 comes with a set of support systems, which work well enough to provide useful feedback but don’t mislead you about the wrong sense of security. The long journeys were a pleasure thanks to the quiet cabin and we noticed no cries and cries.
Even as more and more EVs are on the market, the Kia EV6 is still a very attractive proposition. It combines the quality of mass-market construction with the sporty look of the Tesla Model 3 and is a lot more attractive than the VW ID.4 and Audi Q4 e-tron.