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Kia EV6 test drive review: Performance that didn’t disappoint

S. Muralidhar | Updated on: Jun 01, 2022
Rekindling interest: Kia’s strategy is to mark its presence in the fast-growing electric vehicle space

Rekindling interest: Kia’s strategy is to mark its presence in the fast-growing electric vehicle space

Pricing will remain key, but this Kia could be a challenger in the fast-growing luxury EV space

 

Kia India has adopted a breakaway strategy that has helped it become a household name in a relatively short time. It doesn’t need a halo product to rekindle interest in the brand, and so the decision to launch the EV6 as its next set of wheels for the Indian market must’ve been influenced purely by the need to mark its presence in this fast-growing segment. And unlike sister brand Hyundai, which brought in the Kona as its first EV, Kia is going with the EV6, a pure electric crossover that will be positioned much higher in the price range. 

The Kia EV6 and the soon to be launched Hyundai IONIQ 5 are both built on the same e-GMP platform (electric global modular platform) that was developed ground up to be the base for a range of electrics. The EV6 is the less conventional when it comes to exterior design. While the early hybrids and electrics were quirky in a seemingly forced attempt at being different, the EV6 stays different without getting onto the slippery slope of sporting a design that is divisive. 

Design

It manages to do that by mixing the design attributes of a large hatch and crossover SUV. The stance is strong, yet compact. The front is dominated by the headlamps and their unique eye-lash like LED DRLs. The tapered nose’s impact is accentuated by the large, clamshell bonnet which wraps a big section of the side panels on either side all the way to the wheel arches. The EV6 gets a slim faux bonnet grille, with air intake duties being done by an airdam lower down in the front fender. Electrics don’t really need to breathe as much as ICE (internal combustion engine) cars because their air intake needs are restricted to only cooling the battery pack and some of the drive components. 

The EV6’s side profile is clean with retracting handles giving it a flush surface and it’s only the waistline crease that breaks the mould. The rear design is the most appealing with its crossover, shooting brake finish. The connected tail-lamps design arcs over the tailgate dividing it and creating an interesting layer. This is mirrored in size and shape by a textured panel right below which sports the turn indicators. While some of the design features like the door mirrors and the split roof spoiler with wings seem unconventional, they are all focused on improving aerodynamics. Not surprising then that the EV6’s CD (co-efficient of drag) is one of the lowest at 0.28. Even though it looks like a relatively compact vehicle, it is almost 4.7 metres long and has a wheelbase of 2.9 metres. 

Cabin

The EV6’s interior is modern and minimalist, and it has hints that point to the absence of an ICE powertrain. But thankfully it isn’t dominated by a single gigantic touchscreen like many current day EV cabins are. There is a lot of attention to detail and much to look forward to in terms of useable, premium features. The colour theme for the EV6 I test drove at the F1 track in the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) was a simple black and cream, with a grey textured contrast panel on the dashboard. The seat upholstery and even the armrest mirror the same colour theme in their contrast panels and stitching. The EV6’s cabin could pass off as that of a modern day conventional fuel vehicle if not for the flat floor ahead of the floating centre console (absence of a drivetrain) and the clean floor at the rear. 

The top of the dashboard is taken up by the long panel housing the two 12.3-inch touchscreens for the infotainment and instrument cluster. Together with the controls on the two-spoke, flat-bottomed steering wheel, there’s access to pretty much all the functions and multiple drive-related information displayed on the screens. The auto aircon gets controls on a separate touch panel on the short centre stack. The centre console has the on/ off button and a rotary selector knob for reverse, neutral and drive. The EV6 also gets drilled metal pedals that are tastefully cut and finished, though they also sport simplistic +/- logos for the throttle and brake pedal respectively. 

My test mule had perforated leather seats, and both seat heating and cooling functions. There is also an interesting addition in the one-touch ‘zero gravity’ seat position for the front seats, which, at the press of a button, lets you sit like you’d be in a rocket - backrest tilted and the seat base rising into the tilt. This can be a comfy position for people who need to wait extended periods of time inside the car. Overall, the EV6 cabin is quite spacious thanks to its width and wheelbase. In addition to the unique textured, dual-colour finish to the cabin panels, the EV6 also gets some interesting ambient LED lighting with brush-stroke like arrays that light up the mid dashboard panel highlighting the aircon vents etc. a wireless charger tray in the front armrest, a high-end Meridian audio system (that also puts out configurable fake drive sounds), a sunroof, a suite of connected car features and about 520-litres of boot space are some of the other features of the cabin. Fit and finish quality is excellent and the general opinion that I came away after spending a couple of hours in the cabin is very positive. 

Performance

The last EV I tested at the Buddh Circuit was the Porsche Taycan. While I’m not going to attempt comparing that with the EV6, suffice it to say that Kia officials wouldn’t have considered a race track for the experience if they hadn’t been confident about the EV6’s performance, and it didn’t disappoint! It is surprisingly quick and capable; the electric motors effortlessly power the EV6 up to 193 kmph (wind-assisted) on the long straight at the track. I was driving the all-wheel drive (AWD) version of the EV6, which essentially sports an electric powertrain that combines a 77.4kW battery pack under the floor and two (front and rear) axle-mounted motors that deliver a combined output of 325PS of power and 605Nm of torque. The AWD EV6 is capable of accelerating to 100 kmph from standstill in about 5.2 seconds. Kia is also offering a less powerful, slightly slower rear-wheel drive (RWD) version with a single e-motor on the rear axle that generates 229PS of power and 350Nm of torque. The battery remains the same multi-cell 77.4kW Lithium-ion pack, that is said to have a rated driving range of 528kms on a full charge. Real world driving range would be lower based on traffic conditions and driving style. 

The steering wheel sports paddles for selecting the amount of brake energy recuperation that you may want to choose. There is also the drive mode selector to the bottom left of the steering spoke to switch between Eco, Normal and sport. Shifting to sport and with all of the torque and power being delivered, the EV6 feels seriously fast, pinning me back into the seat when the accelerator pedal is floored. This Kia also holds its line into corners, confidently taking turns 4 and 5 at the track. The Nexen N Fera 235/ 55 R19 EV tyres also offered good grip even though my guess is they’d be low rolling resistance. 

Bottom Line

The Kia EV6’s battery can be charged using a regular wall-socket, but it is also capable of fast charging at 800-volt and 400-volt without the need for a separate controller. It can also be charged at a 50kW DC fast charger or even at a 350kW with 10-80 per cent charge times of one hour 13 minutes or just 18 minutes respectively. The battery pack of the EV6 can also be used for a vehicle to load transfer of charge, for example to a laptop or for powering electrical accessories at a ten. It can also be used to transfer charge to another EV6 that may be low on charge. 

The EV6 will be launched as a CBU (completely built unit). So, expect prices to be at a premium to the average ICE vehicle in its class. I expect prices to range from ₹55 lakh to ₹60 lakh. 

Published on June 01, 2022
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