This post started with good intentions. I was going to compose a tribute to Kia and its designers and engineers for the EV6. It’s a significant vehicle for Kia, but more than that, it’s a significant benchmark among the latest crop of EVs created by the world’s carmakers – some large, some small.
However, on Thursday, April 14 Australia’s premier automotive magazine, WHEELS, trumped any modest efforts by me to praise the EV6, by announcing that the magazine has awarded Kia’s new EV its prestigious CAR OF THE YEAR award.
In the previous issue, the April 2022 edition, the magazine pitched the EV6 against two competitors – its Hyundai stablemate, the Ioniq 5, and the Swedish Polestar 2. That comparison also awarded the winner’s laurels to the EV6, so perhaps taking out COTY was no big surprise.
For obvious copyright reasons I can’t publish the findings of the COTY team, but I do want to make comments of my own about this impressive car.
Some of my readers believe I am anti-EV, but that is not so. I deplore assertions that they are zero-emission cars (especially in Australia, where our electricity grid is fed from coal-fired power stations), and I do think that alternatives, such as Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs) provide an even better alternative to simple battery power.
I’m afraid every time I get behind the wheel of a BEV I feel that twinge of range anxiety. In a car like the EV6 however, I was able to relax in the comfort of a 484km range, thanks to its 77.4 kWh battery. This is no small thing, and one of the EV6’s most important assets when it comes to choosing which BEV you might buy.
You won’t see one in a showroom (they’re simply too scarce in Australia, which is only being allocated 500 cars in the initial shipment), so it’s virtually impossible to imagine what it looks like compared to other cars, and its competitors. So, I will offer you some perspective.
The EV6 is, in my mind, a pretty big hulk of a car. It’s certainly not compact – by any measure. I offer my own appraisal, to a like-minded vehicle you will immediately recognise – the Range Rover PHEV. Here’s a photo of the two, plus a brief chart of similar specifications.
You’ll soon see that the EV6 could challenge a small garage space.
That said, as you would then expect, the EV6 boasts excellent interior space, great legroom front and rear for its five passengers, plus a 480L/1260L rear load space (and a small ‘frunk’ under the hood which offers 20L).
At this point in my life, I would not be considering changing cars (even for one as appealing as the EV6), and especially to a BEV. In my neck of the woods there are a total of FOUR public chargers – or you’ll have to face the cost of charging it at home, which is a bit like a ‘slow boat to China’ – even though I have a bevy of solar panels on my roof.
The car had 64% battery power left when I picked it up, so as soon as I got home I plugged into my 15A power socket, which (after five hours of sunlight) boosted the capacity to 79% - which was a pleasant surprise.
After driving around the Gold Coast most of the day, I found a vacant charge point at a local shopping mall, and hooked up with the Type 2 plug for 45 minutes, which resulted in slightly less than 80%.
However, there was a sobering reminder of just how L-O-N-G it takes to reach 100%. The dash readout said I would have had to leave the car for a further 4.5 hours! I think it would be prudent to invest in a ‘home charger’ which would cut the charging time.
The EV6 pictured here is the middle of the range, a single motor (RWD) GT Line, which comes in around AUD$74,900. The basic EV6 Air model has a pricetag of AUD$67,900 – so, cheap, they are not.
Still, with the price of a Tesla 3 around AUD$70 grand this does not seem to have put off the early adopters. However matching the price tag on the EV6 are lots of luxe items.
Once on the road the EV6 fulfils the promise delivered by Kia Australia’s localisation team headed by the skilled and experienced Graeme Godbold (below). Graeme’s group of specialists is responsible for ‘Australian-ising’ every Kia which comes Down Under, and as I am the owner of a Kia Cerato I can attest to the fact that they do a bloody good job!
The big EV6 may not handle like an MX5, but it is very agile, very confidence boosting, turns in beautifully and in addition the ride is outstanding. This last point is emphasised by Kia Australia in all its media releases and brochures because Graeme’s team selected ZF Sachs variable dampers, and they iron out bumps and ripples, and provide impressive secondary ride.
In fact, I would easily compare the EV6’s ride and handling right up there with the Jaguar i-Pace – it’s that good, and a very solid reason to buy a ‘localised’ Kia, from any part of its range.
The steering is well-weighted, and instantly responsive, with just the right amount of power assist across its arc of movement. However, whilst the basic point and steer responses are excellent, I can’t say the same for that bloody lane-keeping software, which as I casually drift slightly over the lane marker, literally wrenches the wheel in the opposite direction. This is one piece of tech I don’t think any of the carmakers have perfected.
On the subject of technical gear and gizmos, you’ll want for nothing. I’m not going to list the full complement – just read the brochure. One thing though, the Meridian audio system on the GT Line is outstanding.
The centre console is an attempt by the interior designer to do ‘something different’ and I think it’s a bit dinky, and not really very practical in use.
It’s a great lump of plastic implanted between the front seats, which in effect is nothing more than a huge armrest.
Externally, the EV6 and its platform-sharing sibling, the Ioniq 5, could not be more different.
The Hyundai is all prisms, sharp edged style lines, side panels boasting edgy graphics and lots of square corners on things like headlights, and interior decoration, like the IP screens.
The EV6 has a flowing, curvy, almost coupe-like sloping profile finishing at the rear with a ‘ducktail’ spoiler reminiscent of the Aston Martin DBX.
Okay, so did Kia’s EV6 deserve its COTY award? Why should my opinion count for anything, when a team of experts paid to have such opinions have climbed all over, poked and prodded the darkest corners, and thrashed the contenders for more than a week.
As far as I’m concerned, they got it right – given the long list they had to prune down to one winner!
For my money (and I’m not shelling out for one), the EV6 was one of the nicest cars I’ve had the pleasure of driving this past twelve months. It’s an appealing design, smartly turned out in terms of style, design and equipment and drives like a dream.
What’s not to like? Well unless a 484km range isn’t long enough for you, you’d have to agree with WHEELS, the Kia EV6 is very impressive – for a BEV, and a pretty slick preview of the future of personal mobility.
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