Kia has had its fair share of EVs in the past, but, in many respects, the early offerings were niche players because the available driving range left lingering anxiety issues. The 2015 Soul EV had a 27-kilowatt/hour battery and a range of 149 kilometres, both of which are tiny by today’s standards. The all-new EV6 addresses this situation.
The lineup is anchored at the bottom-end by a rear-drive model with a 58 kW/h battery and a driving range to 373 km. The single electric motor makes 167 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is so-so. The smart shopper will opt for the larger 77.4 kW/h battery. It’s offered in both single and dual-motor models. The rear-driver makes 225 hp, 258 lb-ft of torque and it has the longest driving range with up to 499 km from a fully-charged battery.
The best route, however, is to go with the one of the dual-motor models. This gives the driver access to 320 hp and 446 lb-ft of instant-on torque. There are Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow driving modes. Even when in Normal, the power and torque combine to bring a smart launch off the line and a sustained mid-range. The penalty for the added performance and a fast 5.2 second run to 100 kilometres an hour is small — the range drops to a stated 441-km.
Keeping the larger battery charged takes around eight hours using a Level 2 charger and it goes from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 73 minutes when connected to a 50 kW fast-charger thanks to its 800-volt architecture. Forget the 110-volt outlet option — 68 hours says it all.
One of the neat features is the EV6 has the ability to give up its electrons to power electric ancillaries. For example, if you go glamping and plug a 55-inch TV into the battery it will entertain the campground for some 1,500 hours. Just don’t drain the battery completely!
More importantly, Kia’s range claim was backed up during the test. On cool mornings the tester routinely showed 350+ km of driving range. That’s better than many other EVs in colder weather. The Ford Mustang Mach-E has a claimed range 418 km, but only showed 260 km during at test conducted at the same temperature.
Part of the EV6’s range comes from the fact it only drives the front wheels when all-wheel-drive is not needed. The Disconnector Actuator System can engage or disengage the front motor in 0.4 seconds, so it’s seamless whenever it switches.
Regenerative braking also helps the range cause, as it does in any EV. Audi suggests it can contribute as much as 30 per cent to the overall driving range. In the EV6’s case, it gives the driver six regen choices — none, 1 to 3 and auto along with a proper one-pedal drive (i-Pedal). Unfortunately, the driver cannot save their preferred mode, as the EV6 always defaults to mode 3 whenever it’s started. Kia says this is for safety reasons, which is piffle. If saving the one-pedal preference is good enough for Volvo it should be here. The key is a one-pedal drive is the most efficient regen mode and it’s the easiest to use in an urban setting.
As for handling, the EV6 is polished. The front struts and multi-link rear suspension balance things very nicely. It’s comfortable on the highway, yet there’s little body roll through a fast corner. The low-slung battery and 53:47 weight distribution combine to deliver a surprisingly neutral drive. When pushed to the limit the EV6 will understeer, but it takes a brave driver to get it to that point. The steering follows this lead, as it’s sharp without feeling twitchy. All of that said, as it is with other EVs, the 6 does feel heavy from behind the wheel.
Perhaps the biggest shortcoming is the fact there’s no rear wash/wiper. Kia says the rake of the rear window means it doesn’t need one. There are two cut-outs, or slots, in the roof-mounted rear spoiler that are designed to channel air over the glass to keep it clean and, more importantly, the view through the rearview mirror clear. Simply stated, it does not work.
Yes, at speed it does clear some of the water away, but park it on a wet night and all of the dusty fall-out that settles on the wet glass and then dries requires manual labour to clean it off. It may be a small thing for some potential customers, but the omission could just as easily be viewed as a deal-breaker. In fairness, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 has the same issue.
Move inside and the cabin is artfully crafted. In the GT-Line Package 2 it starts with two 12.3-inch screens housed under a single, curved piece of glass. The reconfigurable instrumentation is clean and clear; the infotainment system is easy to master. It also works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it houses one of the best driving range graphics around. The number of buttons has also been cut by doubling up the functions of the row of touch points below the main screen. These controls toggle between the climate and infotainment functions as needed.
Of course, in keeping with its green thrust the cabin uses sustainable materials including vegan leather and a carpet made from the equivalent of 111 0.5L plastic water bottles. As for the rest of it, the 2,900-millimetre wheelbase means the rear seat riders have plenty of legroom and lots of headroom. It also has 690 litres of cargo space with the split/folding seats up and 1,322 L with them folded flat. There’s another 20 L of cargo space under the hood.
The dual-motor EV6 GT-Line Package 2 is a swanky ride with lots of power and an equal measure of agility to go along with the right driving range and a cabin that’s a cut above the segment norm. All of this puts the EV6 on a strong footing, however, things are about to get even better. The upcoming EV6 GT promises Porsche-like performance with 576 hp, 546 pound-feet of torque and a run to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds. Now, if only it had a rear wiper and the driver could save the one-pedal preference, I’d take mine in a ‘sleeper grey’.