Currently reading: First drive: 2022 Kia EV6 prototype review
Set to be a major contender in the bespoke electric SUV ranks, and one that should have more storied marques looking nervous
James Attwood, digital editor
News
5 mins read
16 August 2021

In one aspect, the Kia EV6 feels rushed through and barely considered. Seriously Kia, how many minutes did it take you to settle on ‘EV6’ for the first in a series of bespoke electric vehicles? No messing around creating a sub-brand like ID, EQ or Ioniq here, just does-what-it-says-on-the-tin, call a spade a spade and an EV an EV, simplicity.

Now, Kia insists the name was chosen precisely due to its simplicity, because they didn’t want to add any further confusion to the already complex terminology surrounding electric cars. Sure, why not? 

Anyway, we’ll forgive Kia because the firm has clearly devoted its time to the really important stuff: in every regard bar the name, the EV6 feels like the result of extensive consideration, planning, research and development. Which it is, because as the first bespoke electric Kia built on the Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP native EV platform, this is a very important car.

“It’s a showcase for what we want to stand for,” says Sjoerd Knipping, the firm’s European product chief. “It’s very well thought through why EV6 is our first model on E-GMP. For sure, in 10 years we’ll be talking about EV6 as the model that changed the Kia brand.”

Pretty bold stuff, but the EV6 is a pretty bold car, and much of that is down to that E-GMP skateboard electric architecture, which among other things features an 800V architecture that allows for high-speed charging at up to 350kW. If that sounds familiar, the E-GMP is also used to underpin sister firm Hyundai’s Ioniq 5. Which is a similar size to the EV6 and shares battery, motor and lots of other technology. But don’t mistake the EV6 as a badge-engineered Ioniq 5.

“They are so closely related that they share a platform and that’s about it,” says Knipping with a laugh. “Obviously there is lots of shared technology to have the economies of scale, but if you look at them from a design and positioning point of view they’re totally different. This is a challenge that lots of car groups have, and this is a very good example of how we’ve managed to differentiate the brands.”

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Essentially, the EV6 is designed to build on Kia’s position as the more sporty, performance focused of the Hyundai Motor Group brands, a shift that started with the Stinger GT. It’s been reinforced with Kia’s revamped design language and a new logo. Essentially, if the Ioniq 5 is a rival to the Volkswagen ID 4, the EV6 is intended as more of a challenger to the Ford Mustang Mach-E, ID 4 GTX or Polestar 2.

Certainly, you won’t mistake the Ioniq 5 and EV6 to look at - styling-wise, the only thing they really have in common is hinting that Hyundai Motor Group’s designers have a soft spot for classic Italian rally cars. While the Ioniq 5 has echoes of the Lancia Delta, Kia designer Luc Donckerwolke has suggested the EV6’s slightly wedge-shaped body is inspired by the Lancia Stratos. As with the Ioniq and Delta, it’s a comparison that only works proportionally: the EV6 is basically a mid-size crossover: it’s 4695mm long and 1550mm high, with a wheelbase of 2900mm (compared to 3000mm for the Ioniq 5). 

Still, even cloaked under a black semi-camo wrap, the presence of the EV6 is impressive. The bold front end – called a ‘digital tiger face’ – is undeniably sleek, and is also sculpted with various active aerodynamic elements. There are flush door handles, clean, aero-honed side surfaces and a spoiler built into the rear bootlip that features integrated lights.

As is the trend with EVs, the EV6 will be offered with single- and twin-motor versions offering front- and all-wheel drive of various power outputs. There will be multiple battery sizes, although all UK models will feature a 77.4kWh unit offering up to 328 miles for the entry-level 226bhp rear-drive model.

Our prototype test car came in GT-Line trim, and featured the 321bhp twin-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain that will be the range-topper until the 577bhp Porsche Taycan S-baiting EV6 GT arrives in the second half of 2022 (And yes, we did just compare a Kia to a Porsche. See what Knipping meant about this car changing the Kia brand?)

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Still, even with ‘just’ 321bhp, the EV6 we drove didn’t exactly feel lacking for power, with the smooth, rapid silent acceleration you’d expect from an EV offering 446lb ft of torque and a 0-62mph time of 5.2sec. It also offers an official range of 314 miles, and with the 350kW charging enabled by the 800V architecture, that battery can be charged from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes. As with the e-Niro, paddles control various levels of regenerative braking.

There’s a pleasing directness and feedback to the steering that belies the EV6’s size and 2015kg kerb weight. It also turns and corners with relative gusto, helped by the rear-focused set-up of the AWD system. The ride can feel a little skittish at the rear, although Kia is still performing final tuning on the adaptive suspension’s innovative frequency selective dampers. There are three drive modes on offer that firm up the suspension and increase the steering response, and in Sport the EV6 is capable of particularly brisk progress. It’s certainly not a pure sports EV, but it does feels like one that manages to mix real-world SUV practicality with a dash of emotion and enthusiasm.

The interior also feels like a major step forward for Kia, and also introduces a new design language for the brand. The dashboard is dominated by two screens that link together and slightly curve towards the driver. But there are still several buttons, along with a multi-purpose haptic panel that can quickly switch from controlling the infotainment to the ventilation system. Kia says it has tried to ensure that any key functions can be quickly accessed without recourse to the touchscreen, and it’s certainly thought through.

The whole interior is, really. There’s plenty of space in there, and lots of practical touches such as the large centre console that hosts some key functions and plenty of storage elements. The comfortable seats are clothed in fabric made from recycled water bottles and there’s an augmented reality head-up display that works reasonably well.

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Knipping says that the goal of the EV6 is “to make a bold statement”. And while a definitive verdict will need to wait until we’ve driven a finished version, it’s clear how much time and effort Kia has put into making sure it does just that. Kia has come an awfully long way in 10 years. But on the evidence of the EV6, the next 10 could well be even more exciting.

Kia EV6 specification

Price £46,745 Engine Two permanent magnet synchronous motors Power 321bhp Torque 446lb ft Gearbox 1-spd automatic Kerb weight 2015kg 0-62mph 5.2sec Top speed tbc Battery 77.4kWh, lithium ion Range 314 miles CO2, tax band 0g/km, 1% Rivals Polestar 2, Volkswagen ID 4, Ford Mustang Mach-E

READ MORE

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Comments
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BlahBlah43 17 August 2021
Really hate Kia's obsession with piano black plastic everywhere. The center console where the gear shift is could have looked nice, but instead Kia cut corners and it shows.
Cobnapint 17 August 2021
Top tip to EV SUV designers. Why not nearly double the range of the vehicle by sticking one battery pack on top of the other in the sills? The occupants like sitting high up anyway so job-jobbed.
How's that for a new 'architecture'.
Cobnapint 17 August 2021
Who's kidding who here? Why are they letting you drive the prototype when the finished product is already complete? The date for being on sale is set, I don't believe for one minute they are still fine tuning the suspension.
And why go on about the name? EV6, 7 or 8 is fine, we all know where we stand.

Other than that, this thing will surely fly off the shelves. Kia have done a great job with their rebranding, and the 7 year warranty is the cherry on top.