The EV6 is Kia's first battery-electric vehicle built on the new E-GMP platform.
What comes into your mind when you think of the ‘best car in the world’? As good as that mental picture of a red Ferrari is, it is a thoroughly compromised albeit very exciting package. The ‘best’ can’t fall short in any department. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has long been regarded as the best car in the world and for good reason: it is comfortable, with the right engines it is also fast, packed with the latest tech and it is practical too. It truly does excel in every department. I’m not expecting the S-Class to be dethroned anytime soon, but the Kia EV6 I’m driving might just have all of its green number plate-wearing competition shaking in their boots. The EV6 isn’t just a bigger Seltos or Sonet. This is Kia at the top of its game, learning from the past, looking toward the future and delivering a product that is well-thought-out, practical, quick and emission-free. Is it the best electric car in the world? Let’s hold the answer till we get acquainted with it.
EV6. The Kia EV6. It is based on Hyundai Group’s E-GMP platform which means it is an EV through and through, allowing Kia’s engineers to package it free from the constraints of an ICE-friendly platform. Here’s an example – at 4695mm in length the EV6 is a whopping 420mm shorter than the Carnival but at 2900mm its wheelbase is just 160mm off and with its wheels pushed right to the edges, engineers can maximise cabin space. The all-electric platform also allows Kia to design the EV6 differently from an ICE-powered car.
The first thing that strikes you about the EV6 is how big it is. It disguises its size well in pictures but this is even longer (and just as wide) as the Audi Q5. The visual weight is shed with the help of the short nose, blacked-out A-pillar and a strong character line down the side that flicks up and connects with the jaw-dropping, full-width light bar at the rear. The detailing on that light bar, the sloping roofline, sharply-raked C-pillar and even the really cool fog light application on the lower half of the rear bumper – all of it make the EV6’s rear truly stand out. We were on a race track full of EV6s humming about so it wasn’t doing much standing out in this setting, but out on the road, this is sure to snap a few necks.
Form and Function
The thoughtful design continues inside as you’re greeted by elements that are familiar and futuristic all at once. There’s a large centre console between the front seats which houses a rotary gear selector, some touch-sensitive controls for HVAC, a wireless charging pad and a storage bin under the armrest. Right below this central console is more storage and plenty of ports to charge your devices. Then, on the lower half of the dashboard is a dedicated panel for the climate control which is good to see, but there’s a catch. Firstly, the ‘buttons’ are touch-sensitive buttons which aren’t as easy to use as regular buttons, though it isn’t the end of the world. The bigger issue is that at the touch of a tiny touch-sensitive button this panel can switch to give you shortcuts to the infotainment screen. All well and good right? Wrong. Want to change the air-con temp? Too bad, you just turned down the volume on your music. So now you need to hunt for the (tiny, touch-sensitive) button again, tap it and then turn the rotary dial to adjust the temperature – easy to do when you have an F1-grade circuit to yourself, harder when you’re threading the needle in traffic.
Anyway, that’s a small glitch in an otherwise well-executed interior with lots of clever touches. Docked up at the charging station with nothing to do but take a nap? One press of a button on the seat adjustment panel and the driver (or front passenger) seat reclines all the way back for extra ZZZs. Need to work on your laptop but it’s out of battery? There’s a 16A household outlet nestled below the rear seat bench you can plug it into. Want your car’s sustainability quotient to go beyond just its propulsion method? The seats have vegan leather and there is up to 111 plastic bottles worth of recycled plastic in the cabin. And I’ve saved the best one for last. This one’s a bit more specific and isn’t about the cabin, but still: gone out camping with your fridge but nowhere to plug it in? Open the charge port, connect the V2L (Vehicle to Load) adaptor, plug in the fridge and your fizzy drinks will be as chilled as you like. You can also plug in a TV or a microwave, or even charge another EV in emergency situations. Gimmick or not, that’s an ace up the EV6’s sleeve. I digress, let’s get back to the interior.
The 12.3-inch infotainment screen is crisp and responsive, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present and accounted for if you’ve got a cable. The 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster displays lots of relevant information including range, battery consumption, regeneration status and more. There’s also an augmented reality head-up display which uses a projector placed ahead of the instrument cluster to show information directly ahead of you. It also incorporates some ADAS features, warning you of a car in your blind spot for example.
Before we get to the driving bit, I must tell you that the rear-seat space on the EV6 is fantastic. There's acres of knee-room, though you can’t slide your feet under the front seat because of the high floor – which also makes for a slightly knees-up seating position – but the floor is flat, the backrest can recline, there are USB-C sockets on the front seatbacks, through-loading for the boot via the armrest opening and a sunroof to liven things up. Most people will be very, very comfortable back here. But of course, if you can pick, the driver’s seat is where the party is at.
Plug and Play
Kia is introducing the EV6 in GT-line trim and we’re driving it in AWD guise, with the outputs rated at 320bhp and 605Nm. It comes with a 77.4kWh long-range battery with an EPA-estimated range of 484kms. The mountain of torque moves this heavy four-door family car from a standstill to 100kmph in just 5.2 seconds. The EV6 supports 800V ultra-fast charging but more relevant to us in India is the 10-80% charge time with a 50kW DC fast charger – 73 minutes. Okay enough numbers, let’s drive.
First impressions are positive. The EV6 sets off with no lag whatsoever like most EVs but the thing that catches my attention first is the brake pedal. It feels good, not wooden like some other electrics. Even though you’re not actually squeezing the mechanical brakes for a large percentage of pedal travel, the feedback is reassuring. The next thing I notice is that the EV6 is fast. Full throttle from a standstill will have you giggling, and if you too have the BIC’s back straight to let loose on, you can reach the 192kmph top speed fairly quickly. Hard on the brakes for the ever-deceptive turn four, swing the ’wheel and the EV6 follows through on your commitment. There is body roll and there’s no hiding from that two-tonne kerb weight, but the EV6 stays calm and composed even when you ask for a quick direction change, though it isn’t particularly involving. That said, the grip levels are surprising considering the efficiency-oriented rubber, 45-degree Celsius ambient temperatures and the fact that this is no race car. We can’t tell you much about the ride quality, since there are (thankfully) no potholes at this track and we can’t comment on real-world range either, but you can expect at least 350-370kms.
What I can tell you is that the EV6 is very refined. Road noise is mostly kept at bay, there is wind noise past 160kmph but that shouldn’t bother you if you’ve got music playing and it does a good job of insulating the cabin from the outside world. The regen system is also one of the best out there. There are six settings – level 0 allows it to coast, while levels 1 through 3 give you increasing amounts of regen. The fifth is ‘i-Pedal’ for one-pedal driving and finally, there’s auto which can adapt to your driving scenarios for the best balance between regen and coasting. There’s also a full suite of ADAS tech that didn’t come into play at the track but is nice to have.
I’ve had the privilege of driving some of the best electric cars in the world recently. The BMW iX, Porsche Taycan, Audi RS e-tron GT and last month I did a short road trip in the Volvo XC40 Recharge. The last one is handy because, at Rs 69.95 lakh for this AWD variant, the EV6 will go right up against the Volvo. Of course, the Volvo badge holds a lot more snob value than Kia’s but the EV6 is more spacious, almost as quick, has plenty more equipment and it feels more special with all those futuristic touches. The EV6 also looks like nothing else on the road, a factor that seems to be important to EV buyers and one that the XC40 Recharge misses on completely. Is it the best electric car in the world? Well, it certainly isn’t far off the mark.
- Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD
Motors: Dual Permanent Magnet Synchronous
Battery: 77.4kWh Li-ion (IP69K)
Peak Power: 320bhp
Peak Torque: 605Nm
Charging Time: 0 – 80%: 73 minutes (50kW DC fast charger)
Price: ₹64.95 Lakh (Ex-showroom)
X-Factor: A spacious, striking-looking EV that is also fast and packed with features.