The future is here and it just works

With every new technology there comes a tipping point when it’s no longer just the early adopters, the geeks or the gotta-have-something-new folk who consider making the latest and greatest part of their everyday life.

It was 1997 when manufacturers started the transition to EV as Toyota released the Prius as the first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. Ten years passed before Tesla lifted the bar to all-electric reality with their Roadster. Inevitably, there were nay sayers who doubted whether it would ever be possible to make an EV a convenient daily driver.

Having spent a week in Kia’s all new EV6; I think we’re well and truly over the tipping point and it’s no stretch of the imagination to park a fully functional, family friendly SUV in the garage every night and not think about filling the “tank” any more often than the petrol-powered fossil it replaced. This is the first dedicated Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) produced by Kia using the all-new Electric-Global Modular Platform (E-GMP)

Interestingly, the EV6 is the first of 11 new BEV models KIA will introduce over the next 4 to 5 years as they transition to the new era of electrification under Kia’s new brand slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’.

Kia’s EV6 comes in two grades: firstly, the EV6 Air in rear-wheel drive only (RWD) starting at $67,990 (RRP). It produces 168kW power and 350Nm of torque with a single charge driving range of 528km. The 0-100 acceleration times are around 7 seconds on standard 19” alloy wheels.

Second is the top trim GT-Line in with two available options, RWD single motor with 20” alloys, and a driving range of 504km and priced at $74,990. Or the flagship, the GT-Line all-wheel drive AWD producing 239 kW / 605 Nm and hitting 0-100 in 5.2 seconds. The AWD comes with a range of 484km and an RRP of $82,990.

Inside, the GT Line makes a favourable first impression, with tasteful combinations of piano black, satin chrome, tactile knurled rotary dials and toggle switches, quilted nappa leather, heated and cooled power-adjustable driver and passenger front seats and accented stitching. There’s no mistaking the abundance of premium finishes, attention to detail, and high-tech features of this vehicle’s well-appointed and quality constructed interior.

I drove the EV6 for a week – no fuss, no panic.

Over the week, I drove around the city most days without once fearing that the battery reserve capacity would leave me stranded. 

I used essentials like windscreen wipers and rear demister. And I didn’t skimp on the power sucking luxuries.  When it was cold, I toasted both my tail and my hands with the comfort of heated seats and steering wheel. I was either listening to the pleasant 14 speaker Meridian sound system or making calls.

In fact, I only put the EV6 on charge one night to see how hard it was to plug it together (it was a cinch) and whether it sucked the juice out of my standard household power socket too fast.

Unlike another older-style electrical vehicle, Kia’s EV6 wasn’t a power-hungry fast-sucking vampire.

Its zero-emissions long-range (77.4 kWh) 800V high-voltage battery pack charged off my standard 240V GPO at a moderate and sustainable rate – and still let me boil the kettle for a cuppa without the fuse blowing in the meter box! Significantly faster charging is achievable with higher capacity charging units such as a 50kW DC Fast Charger, enabling a 10-80% charge in approx. 73minutes, or a bigger 350kW charger reaching 80% from a remaining 10% capacity in only 18 minutes.

Of course, I could have sat inside and reclined the seats to the optimised position for posture and weight distribution to enjoy some quiet relaxation time while charging.

In fact, given the price of petrol at the moment, I was quite reluctant to hand back a fully functional EV, especially one that was as easy to live with as the EV6. Kia’s design team is at the top of their game—both inside and out. This is a well-designed, stylish SUV.

It can be tricky getting the balance right to achieve a vehicle that turns heads for all the right reasons.

Not one which is so unique that it polarises spectators who love it or hate it; but a design that looks modern, new and the leader of the pack. A style that others will follow for fear of missing out.

From any angle, the EV6 looked sporty without too much machismo; it has interesting lines sweeping down from the funky little spoiler at the back and alloys that look like they’re reaching to bite into the bitumen and sprint forward.

And while the EV6 GT Line RWD lacks the growl, roar, and hiss in the tail of its big V6 cousin the GT Stinger; it has plenty of zip off the mark to punch the 100-km target in a little over seven seconds. It will happily hit the speed limit with effortless zing while leaving everyday fossil fuelled competitors trailing behind. However, to quote Maverick from Top Gun, if you have “the need for speed” then fear not. If you thought the GT Stinger was KIA’s trump card, then think again.

The AWD version peels that back to only 5 seconds, with a performance ‘GT’ version of the EV6 to follow later this year or possibly in early 2023 with an eye watering 0-100 in sub 4 seconds! But remember with great power comes great consumption, so don’t expect anywhere near the range of the others when unleashing that level of performance constantly.

As mentioned, EV’s all lack any intoxicating auditory affirmation of power when burying the pedal into the floor rug, other than a weird distant electrical hum or the wind rushing past the wing mirrors. Kia have included a playful hint of turbo or turbine whine as a background noise to make driving a more tactile experience. And truth be known, it’s kind of cool in a geeky way. But, given the lack of engine harmonics rocking the cabin, it is actually far too easy to drift upwards of the legal mark—fortunately the crystal-clear heads-up display provide plenty of warning to ease off on the throttle and cruise.

But the best was yet to come; get behind the wheel of this seductive body shape and ease yourself into the driver focused interior, and its outward external baulk belies this vehicle’s superb on road dynamics and the contradictory breadth of capability to sneakily devour sweeping bends with almost sports car precision. Thanks to the positioning of the long and wide battery that is an integral component of the vehicle’s structure, the resulting low centre of gravity has yielded several additional gains enabling KIA’s local ride and handling program to exploit the benefits.

Headed by Kia Australia’s Ride and Handling Engineer, Graeme Gambold and utilising advanced frequency suspension dampening (FSD) control and design provided by ZF SACHS, the engineers have availed the EV6 with impressive levels of on road ride comfort over changing surfaces, with communicative handling characteristics for stability and control not normally associated with an equivalent ICE counterpart.

In the real world, push the EV6 through the bends and there’s a distinctive flat stance to the way it corners, its adroit reaction to driver input and changing road conditions makes the EV6 feel light and dextrous, yet remains reassuringly settled during quick changes in direction, or heavy braking.

Disruption to the cabin over surface irregularities is well supressed as the big KIA just glides along over cobble stone like surfaces. Step up the pace for the open road, and there’s a reassuring firmness with good body control over the vehicle’s weight – dispersing large bumps or dips at speed, retaining confident control. All four wheels feel firmly planted when tipping into a corner despite hitting a pothole mid bend, resulting in a rewarding, predictable and relaxed drive. 

The EV6’s on road personality with its brisk response could best be described as willing and agile, it’s happy to follow your lead, and there’s a comforting subconscious confidence in the vehicle, you enjoy driving the EV6 because of its innate capability, rather than find yourself making adjustments for any shortcomings or compromises.

Cruising comes easy, because the EV6 is a comfortable space.

It has all the features we’ve come to expect like ambient lighting that can be set to colour code with your mood or outfit and a panoramic dual curved display that slickly offers sharp driver visuals in the standard dash location, plus an infotainment system with extensive functionality but not perfect usability.

While not everyone is a fan of black backgrounds, the alternative light theme was too stark for comfort. A third option would be nice.

Plug and play Android Auto was my go-to as I simply found it easier to work with Google Maps than the native interface, and far more pleasant to view.

And once connected that way, the other key component for my daily driving, Spotify, is so much more functional.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the infotainment system, the remainder of the interior is sharp, funky and modern. Without the need for a transmission tunnel, the top front of the centre console floats above an open storage space. Moving the start button from the ubiquitous position hidden behind a steering wheel on the dash to an angled fascia directed toward the driver was so intuitive and easy to access that

I wondered why it had taken so long for anyone to come up with the design.

The seats are comfortable and comply with the preferred eco-friendly stance of artificial suede and vegan leather with a two-tone black and white theme which may or may not ring your stylistic bells. Time will tell how well they wear and how easy they are to clean. 

There’s plenty of space front and rear for all except the tallest of your friends.

Lift the rear tail gate and there’s plenty of space with 480L to easily accommodate the fur-kid or a huge family shop. Or drop the rear seats for a cavernous 1,260L. 

And all is going so well… until doh! As seems to be typical of EV’s, there’s a profound desire by manufacturers to delete that unnecessary weight of a spare tyre and provide only the dubious convenience of a Tyre Mobility Kit (TMK).

In a busy city running 24/7 with close proximity to dealerships or tyre outlets; the damage from a nail, small screw or building site rivet can be overcome. But if you’re traveling Australian country roads with limited mobile communication and hundreds of kilometres from the nearest town, and sustain side wall damage from a rock, pothole or another vehicle’s debris after contacting a roo, then I begin to question the dubious logic for TMK.

Was it based on occupant safety given the environment in which the vehicle may operate or was it to a handy reduction on manufacturing costs? This is most definitely not a Kia specific question!

There is no argument KIA are setting benchmarks in design and capability that will influence the direction of the automotive industry globally. 

And it comes as no surprise that the EV6 has taken 2022 honours with the title of European Car of The Year. Plus the coveted 2022 Red Dot awards, established internationally as one of the most sought-after marks of quality for good design, awarding KIA’s EV6 with both best car design and innovative product.

KIA’s EV6 has influenced the parameters of what a modern EV SUV should be, from both a functional and practical application. 

Its futuristic design language and aesthetics have combined advanced technology into a simple and seamless Human Machine Interface (HMI) that allows both driver and passengers to interact with the EV6’s innovative operations in a far more natural way.

The EV6 showcases the advancements in modernistic engineering design that are relevant to the requirements of the modern family.

It also provides the foundation on which KIA will evolve to meet the demands of the future motorist in an ever changing environmentally conscious landscape.

Model: Kia EV6 GT-LINE RWD

  • Price As Tested: $74,990
  • Engine: Single Electric Motor (RWD)
  • Output: 168KW/350NM
  • Transmission: Single Speed Auto
  • Range: 504 km
  • Towing Capacity: 750kg unbraked / 1600kg braked
  • Safety rating ANCAP 5 Stars
Drive Editor - Ray Cully
Drive Editor – Ray Cully

About our Motoring Editor: Ray has been passionate about all things automotive since he first started collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels models when he was five. Since leaving his executive role at General Motors (GM), he’s been sharing his driving experiences with Australian audiences for nearly 20 years, commencing his automotive journalist career with a popular WA-based magazine and was writing his own column in The West Australian for 8 years.

Ray’s strong love of automotive engineering and clever design has seen his articles and photography featured in prominent national magazines in Australia and the UK. He loves sharing his passion with other drivers, including via a long running stint as Senior Instructor for Land Rover Experience, providing training and education for new vehicle owners.

Recently Ray has been presenting on TV shows including Ready for Adventure and the very popular Caravan and Camping WA, to showcase some of the great products, vehicles and companies that make getting out and exploring Western Australia that much more enjoyable.