Hyundai and Kia are not wasting time launching their first purpose-built electric vehicles, the Ioniq 5 and the EV6 and both are proving remarkably competent at the hands of reviewers. Over the past few days, I had the chance to drive the hot new EV6, in a very interesting spec, and I came out of the experience impressed and excited for future EVs built on this platform, the much talked-about E-GMP.
The Kia EV6 is a rival to models like the Tesla Model Y, Volkswagen ID.4, Ford Mustang Mach-E and the upcoming Nissan Ariya. It also has an in-house rival, in the form of the aforementioned Ioniq 5, but even though they are mechanically similar, they feel like two quite different cars - the EV6 is the sporty one, while the Ioniq 5 is more laid back, softer and more relaxing; it also has a smaller battery pack in some markets and a bit less range too.
First I’d like to talk about the way the EV6 looks. In photos, it may not be the most attractive thing, but when you see it in person, you discover it’s nowhere near as strange as you thought it was. This was my experience with it, and in the metal, it looked like a sportier Jaguar I-Pace with a bit of Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo about it - not bad at all, although still not as cool as the Ioniq 5 in my book.
Gallery: 2022 Kia EV6 LR RWD
The exterior has some really cool touches, such as the flush pop-out door handles, the sporty wide flanks, very cool rear light clusters and say what you want about it, but this vehicle is definitely unique and it has presence. You won’t mistake the EV6 for any other vehicle on the road, especially if you see it from behind.
Inside, Kia has gone for a restrained approach with few flourishes. It looks like any modern Kia interior, with a bit more of a premium atmosphere than what the manufacturer offers in its smaller cars. There’s nothing especially interesting about it other than the impressive level of rear legroom, the floor that’s completely flat and the raised driving position that you expect from a vehicle like this.
The infotainment is competent, with great graphics and an impressive range of customization options for many settings - the Kia has an above average number of these options, more than most vehicles. The screen’s response to touch is pretty good, but the system is overall not the snappiest on the market and you sometime have to wait for almost a second before it acknowledges your input.
Driving the EV6 was for me the most impressive part of the experience, though. Even though it’s a fairly tall crossover-type vehicle, it doesn’t really feel like that and the only giveaway is the slightly tall seating position. It really likes corners, thanks to limited body roll and excellently judged, sharp steering and if you disable the traction and stability aids, you can actually have a lot of fun in this vehicle if you find a suitably twisty bit of road, as I did.
It does weight almost 2 tons in rear-wheel drive guise, or over 2 tons if you opt for all-wheel drive with the big battery pack, and there’s no escaping its mass through the corners. You can throw it into corners, but while it is sharp, it’s not as agile as a Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo (which interestingly is even heavier than the Kia...).
My tester was the long range, rear-wheel drive EV6, with a 225 horsepower rear motor that pushes the vehicle to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.3 seconds and to sixty miles per hour in 6.9 - 7 seconds. It tops out at 185 km/h (115 mph) and it frankly isn’t the most thrilling vehicle in terms of acceleration and to me it actually felt a bit slower than the figures said it was going to be.
I felt no acceleration difference between this and the 200 horsepower ID.4, for instance and the Volkswagen is one second slower to sprint on paper. If you want to really feel like you’re driving a powerful EV, then get the dual-motor EV6 that gets an additional 100 horsepower and a lot more torque - it really makes a difference for performance.
When I got the car from Kia, it was charged to 100 percent, and with outside temperatures hovering around freezing, it displayed 355 km (220 miles). I adjusted the climate settings, put the vehicle in Eco mode and drove it for a bit and then it jumped to 412 km (256 miles), before starting to decrease normally.
The second number is really impressive given the fact that the EV6 LR RWD has a claimed range of 528 km (328 miles) on the WLTP test cycle. Based on the experience of driving this example in winter, it seems like you can get around 500 km (310 miles) on one charge in this vehicle if you drive it in warmer weather, although not in the middle of summer when you will have to use a lot of juice to cool the cabin.
All in all, the EV6 is a great electric vehicle with industry-leading charging speeds (240 kW in vehicles with the large battery or 180 kW for the smaller pack), great handling, lots of tech and really a lot to like. Check out the video review to get an even more detailed picture.
When it comes to rivals, I don’t think the EV6 is a better choice than the Tesla Model Y in this segment, although it does plenty of things better than it. I think the EV6 is a rival for all the talented new electric crossovers that are being launched by established automakers - it is probably the closest thing we have to a Tesla (Model Y) killer on the market right now.