2022 Kia EV6 review, first drive - a surreal experience
For the first time, I finished driving and evaluating a vehicle in 5 laps at the BIC. Not because the vehicle was boring, or because there was a limited amount of time provided to us or that it was so hot it dried up the industry of my future generations. No. Driving the Kia EV6 is not so much about experiencing a car, as much as it is driving a MacBook on four wheels! It's a surreal experience. At any given time you expect Rosie to pipe up and tell you you're doing something wrong! Its technology is futuristic, gilded in the veneer of an everyday car. And that makes it pretty much the most amazing piece of the future I've ever driven. The e-tron comes close, but when you get into the Audi you just know, that money, gets you some serious kit. You just don't expect it at EV6 levels, which isn't going to be cheap, but isn't going to shock your wallet either, I hope!
2022 Kia EV6 looks, dimensions, interiors
The EV6 comes from a very short lineage with the Ray, e-Niro and Soul EV being its only predecessors. As a pure EV, it is the first from Kia. And, it's called the EV6 for no particular reason other than to denote its number in a lineup of some 14 Kia EVs that will be available globally by 2027. But that name, EV6, sounds so Jedi. It even looks like it just warped off a death star in some star system far from earth. High gloss reflective black grille, black mesh bumper, swathes of reflective black liberally applied across multiple surfaces. And that matte grey! Swoon. I kept expecting to see Darth Vader step out every time an EV6 drove into the pit lane at the BIC! My only recommendation, switch the large 235/55 profile tyres, keep the 19 inchers, but get lower profile rubber. Drop the ride height, and watch the EV6 grow menacing. It would definitely handle better too. This is one of the hottest Kias around, the only other really good looking Kia is the Stinger which has this sensuous flow, the EV6 is all about aggression.
The Kia EV6 also occupies a fairly large footprint. It's nearly 4.7 metres long, and nearly 1.9 metres wide, but it's the wheelbase that sets it apart, with the wheels placed 2.9 metres apart from the front to the back. The ride height, at 154mm is good for Indian conditions, though at 1550mm it's not very tall. This still lends it a fairly impressive silhouette, and there are certain styling elements that elevate the design. For instance, the clamshell bonnet, the rear light bar arrays, and the scoops under the spoiler, are stunning, attention-grabbing elements.
The interiors are influenced by the advantages presented to an EV yet maintains a subtle approach to not deviate too far from being a conventional everyday car. Draw your own conclusions as to how you like the styling, it has some striking elements and some not so impressive. What caught my eye were the seats that look racy and well-bolstered. The placement of the power button and the drive selector knob can't be missed. And, the climate control panel is a digital touch display. This unique display unit can be toggled entirely between climate control functions or infotainment functions.
The large single panel infotainment screen on the dash seems to be becoming commonplace. Placing both screens under a single panel reduces design and tooling costs, which is smart engineering. The displays are pleasant and readability is easy on the eye. However, you have a massive library of functions and skimming through it all takes a lot of time. It's also not very intuitive and we had to hunt through several menus to activate some of the features, and because the menus are so large, you can't remember where everything resides. What I also wasn't too impressed with, is the steering wheel which looked out of place on that dashboard.
Then there is the interior space. You don't have a transmission tunnel running the length of the car, the wheelbase is large, the glass areas are large, and you have the battery pack sitting low down under the floor pan. All this results in a fairly large cabin with plenty of room, and that room is used smartly. You have large storage bins, one of which can be found right under the gear selector console. And, you have a very large boot that can also be expanded by folding the rear bench. The shoulder room is impressive as is the space for rear-seat passengers.
2022 Kia EV6 battery, range, EV drivetrain
The Kia EV6 that will be offered in India will exclusively be the GT Line. In this trim, you get two options, either the rear-wheel-drive version or an AWD version. The AWD is certainly the more inspiring of the two with the performance levels of a supercar. 0-100 kmph thanks to the two motors, one for each axle is achieved in just 5.2 seconds. The combined power output from the two motors is a peak 325PS with 605Nm of torque. The range however for the AWD variant is around 20kms lesser than for the RWD variant which according to WLTP cycles stands at 528kms. Discount around 30 per cent of that in real-world conditions and I'd expect the EV6 in either configuration to still deliver over 300kms without a fuss. That figure is also impressive because get this, the Kia EV6 still weighs nearly 2 tons!
You also get three driving modes, activated by a switch on the steering wheel or you could go through the menus. You have eco, normal and race modes, of which the normal mode is ideally the one you want to find yourself in most of the time, unless you're running out of charge, in which case simply click your way to eco mode. In normal mode, acceleration is still warp-speed levels when needed, and it effortlessly balances performance with efficiency, though if you want to set your synapses on fire, switch over to race mode.
The EV6 interestingly offers 4 levels of regeneration, using the paddles behind the steering wheel to toggle between the levels. At its most intense, fourth level, you get the one-pedal driving feel, while at the first level the braking effect is significantly more gentle. No other EV in India offers up to four regenerative modes.
Another interesting feature of the EV6 is the addition of ambient sounds. Now unlike some other cars we've driven, the EV6 does not have an external sound to warn pedestrians of it approaching. Inside the cabin though you get some electronically induced sounds that quite frankly sound irritating. You have choices like future, cyber and others along with a customisable mode and all of them sound ridiculous. Keep the function switched off.
2022 Kia EV6 driving impressions
The Kia EV6 could be a smooth urban car. I say this because the BIC is a poor showcase to exhibit a car's ride quality. Almost any car feels as devoid of expression as Arjun Kapoor. However, on paper, the Kia EV6 gets an independent McPherson set up at the front with an independent multi-link unit at the rear. It has also got that large 235/55 rubber section connecting it to the tarmac and this should provide good ride quality.
Handling on the other hand isn't all that impressive. The EV6 will come with Kumhos or Bridgestones, the exact configuration would be available to us at the time of launch. These tyres have a limit to their levels of adhesion, push too hard and you would discover those limits pretty quickly. All this indicates that the bursting-through-the-seams powerhouse performance is not what this electric vehicle is about. The EV6 is a comfortable urban runabout and should be a gem munching miles on a motorway. It will cushion you, pamper you and generally provide a fuss-free experience. So while you do have an immense amount of power at your disposal, this is by virtue in the very nature of an electric powertrain, it should not be assumed that the Kia EV6 is a performance car.
2022 Kia EV6 charging times
The EV6 can be charged up to a maximum 233kW through its CCS2 connector. The charging point is found on the rear right side of the vehicle and a simple push to release flap reveals the charging socket. Kia India will provide a 3.6kW home charger, but here is where things get interesting. Kia India will also provide a V2L (vehicle to load) socket that would essentially allow you to charge household devices using the EV6 as a power source. A special connector will be provided whose one end plugs into the EV6 and the other to a 220V 15A 3-point plug! Yes, this runs a 220V electric system with an ouptut of 3.6kW! You could even run your air-conditioner off this. And with that 77.4kWh battery pack, you can easily run the air-con for a whole day if not longer. This would be particularly useful if you wanted to go camping, plug in an ice box, or camp lights, run a mixie, etc! The vehicle we drove had European connectors but these would be changed to Indian adaptors, with another 3-pin socket available under the rear bench for you to run a vacuum cleaner if you choose to.
The other advantage is that you can also provide vehicle to vehicle charging. So if one EV6 had to run out of juice, you could borrow charge from another EV6 at a rate of 3.6kW. This is painfully slow and not very practical right now, but it's a start.
2022 Kia EV6 features, verdict, expected prices
The EV6 gets a whole suite of safety and convenience features. Multiple airbags, ABS, ESP, 360 cameras, adaptive headlights, etc are run of the mill. What it adds is the level 2 advanced driver assistance system which has its merits and demerits. The latter is not because of the car, but the environment we drive in, which no matter how many lines of code you throw at it, cannot be solved.
Then you have the convenience features. A 16-speaker Meridien sound system doles out smashing tunes, wireless charging and multiple charge points, a head-up display with exhaustive and adaptive features, one-touch relaxation seats that stretch out if you want to catch up to those 40 winks as you wait to charge the batteries, the list goes on. And as I mentioned earlier all this with that GT Line badge. So I expect the EV6 to be expensive, upwards of INR 50 lakhs. A large part of that cost would come from the battery pack. There is nonetheless a tremendously long list of features that enrich the overall proposition.
Overall then the Kia EV6 is a hard to beat proposition. At launch, Kia India will have just 100 units on sale, and if you are an early adopter, the EV6 is ideally positioned between the uber-luxury EVs and the more basic ones lower down the price order. The ownership experience should also be good. Kia India will be installing DC fast-charging stations, some of them up to 150kW. The costs of service for an EV are also lower, and with I presume 8-year battery warranties and other associated costs, the overall proposition is quite appealing.
Starts Rs 59.95 Lakhs