Having already carved out a slice of the electric car market with its competent e-Niro and e-Soul models, Kia bolsters its offering with a new flagship model called the EV6. Built on the company's all-new electric platform it has a large capacity battery, rear-wheel-drive setup and is loaded with tech and features.
In the metal
Kia is a company that isn't afraid of change - you only have to look at how quickly its range has transformed over the past 15 years to see that. The signature 'Tiger Nose' grille is redundant for the electric EV6, so it also becomes the first car to carry the company's new logo on its bonnet.
Safe to say that the Kia EV6 looks like nothing the Korean brand has created previously and it's also quite a large car. Measuring 4.6 metres long, it is only 115mm shorter than the Sorento for example, so it has plenty of presence, but it's not a tall car at all. The styling is quite radical by Kia standards and it's more crossover than full-on SUV.
A long wheelbase means the EV6 has a short nose with minimal front overhang, while a clamshell bonnet curves over the front and around the distinctive triangular headlights. Underneath is a 52-litre storage compartment, ideal for stowing charging cables. In the entry-level 'Earth' specification, the EV6 runs on 19-inch wheels, while the GT-Line increases wheel diameter to 20 inches. As is increasingly the trend, the Kia has door handles that sit completely flush with the bodywork, popping out when the car is unlocked.
A contrasting accent runs along the base of the doors and kicks upwards, bisecting the rear wheel and joining a rear light element that wraps all the way around the car's back end, doubling up as an aerodynamic spoiler. There's a lot of design effort gone into the EV6's rear, including a roof spoiler - incorporating small winglets on the outer edges - that funnels air through it to clear water from the wiper-less rear window.
If the car detects that you have the smart key on your person as you walk to the rear, it will automatically open the electrically operated tailgate. There is a total of 520 litres of storage and by folding the rear seats down this capacity swells to 1,300 litres. On the subject of rear seats, there are excellent levels of space for those travelling in the back of the EV6. The seat backs can be manually reclined and a flat floor boosts comfort for whoever is sat in the middle, too.
Things get more interesting in front where a mostly digital interface greets the driver. A curved widescreen dashboard comprising a pair of 12.3-inch displays presents everything concerning driving information and infotainment. A two-spoke, flattish-bottomed steering wheel houses key functions for volume, call-making and the cruise control, while an augmented reality head-up display (standard on the GT-Line) can overlay additional route guidance to appear as if it is a part of the outside world.
A high centre console juts forward from between the front seats but stops short of connecting with the main dashboard. This element houses the rotary drive selector and the start button that is angled toward the driver as they sit in. Touch-sensitive controls for the heated steering wheel and seats (which can also be ventilated with cool air) are at the end of the console and, in addition to a pair of cupholders, there is a wireless charging pad and a storage bin beneath the armrest. The look and feel of the materials throughout the cabin are notably of high quality.
Only one powertrain will be available in Ireland, featuring a 77.4kWh lithium-ion battery and a 168kW (229hp) synchronous electric motor that drives the rear wheels. Kia says that, with a full charge, the EV6 is capable of up to 528 kilometres range in the Earth specification, though that figure drops to 504 kilometres for the GT-Line - primarily due to the larger wheels and some extra equipment weight. In reality, buyers could expect anything between 340- to over 400 kilometres without much effort in mixed driving conditions.
One of the most impressive initial impressions that the Kia makes is how good the ride quality is. It employs a new type of damper system that is supple on busier surfaces while retaining a high degree of composure at higher speeds and it works very well. Motorway journeys are effortless and remarkably quiet on the inside. Only a faint level of road and wind noise is detectable.
Complementing that superb ride quality is an electric motor that generates plenty of performance. With a 229hp output and 350Nm of torque, it manages to provide more than enough shove to get the 2,053kg Kia up to speed without fuss. Despite driving only the rear wheels the Kia doesn't have a particularly rear-wheel-drive feel to how it handles. Even in the Sport setting it delivers a very balanced performance of handling with little body movement either in terms of pitch or yaw. Drivers can choose an Eco mode that does dull down the responsiveness of the motor in favour of prolonging range and there are different levels of energy recuperation available via the paddles on the back of the steering wheel, too, including a coast mode where it doesn't engage any recuperation. In its strongest setting the Kia is very much a one-pedal driving car.
Kia has fitted numerous driver assistance features to make driving safer and easier. The live-view cameras that display the car's blind spot in the instruments when the indicator is activated is particularly useful, though the conventional mirrors also provide good visibility, but the rear view is limited due to the shape of the back window. Thankfully there's a reversing camera that is crystal clear to aid parking.
What you get for your money
To keep its offering simple in Ireland and maximise its cost competitiveness, Kia has made only the larger battery available and only the rear-wheel-drive powertrain. There are two specification grades, Earth and GT-Line, starting at €50,000 including grants. Oddly, the only extra cost above the speciation grade comes from the metallic paint, which adds €650.
The Kia EV6 Earth includes 19-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, LED headlights, ambient lighting, electrically adjustable front seats with heated function, vegan 'leather' upholstery, wireless phone charger, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, remote charging via a Kia app and built-in navigation.
On the driver assistance front it features forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep and lane follow assist, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality, blind spot collision avoidance and intelligent speed limit assist.
The higher-spec Kia EV6 GT-Line starts at €54,345 including grants and the standard equipment roster is enhanced with 20-inch alloy wheels, body-coloured wheel arches and sills, dual-LED headlights with adaptive high beam and black suede seats with white vegan leather bolsters.
Both versions include a heat pump as standard and have the V2L (vehicle-to-load) technology that enables exterior devices to be powered from the car's battery charge port via a special connector.
The Kia EV6 has a striking design, though it's one that is sure to be less polarising than its near relation, the Hyundai Ioniq 5. The Kia comes packed with features and has a generous standard specification. From the driving position to the characteristics of the electric motor, the Kia puts in an excellent performance, but it's the deftness of that suspension setup that makes it quite an exceptional car.