New 2021 Kia EV6 prototype review

Electric Kia EV6 crossover offers up to 328 miles of range, with prices starting from £40,895

  • Kia EV6 starts from £40,895
  • EV6 GT performance model goes on sale next year for £58,295
  • Kia plans to offer 11 electric cars by 2026

The new Kia EV6 is now on sale starting from £40,895, with the first customer cars expected to arrive in October. The brand’s new flagship EV sits above the Kia e-Niro SUV and is capable of up to 328 miles of range on a single charge. A performance-focused GT version of the EV6 will follow the regular car next year and will be the fastest ever model from the brand, managing 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds.

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The EV6 is the first of 11 new electric models slated to arrive by 2026 and joins the e-Niro and Soul models in the Korean brand’s electric car lineup. When it goes on sale, direct rivals will include the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Volkswagen ID.4 and the Tesla Model Y.

Ahead of the EV6’s arrival in showrooms, we’ve driven a pre-production prototype to see how it stacks up against its closest rivals. Read on for full details and our verdict.

2021 Kia EV6 battery and range

All UK models of Kia’s striking new crossover will be available with a 77.4kWh battery, instead of the entry-level 58kWh version offered in other markets, and either rear or all-wheel drive. The entry-level, rear-wheel drive EV6, which is powered by a 226bhp electric motor, can travel up to 328 miles on a single charge.

A more powerful 321bhp powertrain is available for the higher GT Line and GT-Line S trims and cuts range to 314 miles, while the flagship GT model due in 2022 will have 577bhp but a reduced range of 251 miles.

Kia EV6 prices and specifications

The entry-point to the range is simply called ‘EV6’. It's only available in rear-wheel drive and starts from £40,895. It has a long list of standard equipment, including LED headlights, tail-lights and daytime running lights. A set of 19-inch alloy wheels are fitted, along with rear parking sensors, electrical folding door mirrors and automatic wipers. The interior features black faux leather-trimmed seats, heating for the front seats and steering wheel, ambient lighting and dual-zone automatic air conditioning.

Standard safety features include navigation-based smart cruise control which can accelerate and brake the car in traffic. Forward collision avoidance is also fitted, with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and highway driving assist.

The GT-Line model starts from £43,895 in rear-wheel drive, 226bhp guise, with the 321bhp four-wheel-drive version priced from £47,395. The more powerful car can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds but range drops marginally to 314 miles due to the increased performance. Additions include rear privacy glass, front parking sensors, dual LED headlights and a GT-Line-specific styling package. Interior upgrades include ‘premium relaxation seats’ in the front with memory function, which can be reclined flat for the driver and passenger to rest while charging. Suede and faux leather trim and aluminium pedals also feature, along with a wireless smartphone charging pad. The GT-Line spec also adds blind-spot collision warning.

The standard equipment list is swelled further still for the GT-Line S model, which gets 20-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate and a panoramic sunroof. Other additions include ventilated and heated front seats, heating for the outer rear seats and a premium 14-speaker Meridian stereo system.

GT-Line S models also get remote smart park assist and parking collision avoidance, a blind-spot view monitor, an upgraded version of the highway driving assist, forward collision-avoidance assist and an augmented reality head-up display. Prices for the rear-wheel drive model start from £48,395, increasing to £51,895 for the four-wheel drive version.

Kia has announced that the flagship GT model will be priced from £58,295. This may seem expensive for a Kia but it is around £25,000 less than a Porsche Taycan 4S, which offers similar straight-line performance. It’s set to go on sale in 2022 with deliveries expected that summer.

Kia has revealed that the GT will have the quickest acceleration of any production Kia ever made. It’ll be powered by two electric motors that produce 577bhp, which will propel the EV6 from 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds - comparable with a Porsche Taycan or Tesla Model X - and on to a top speed of 162mph. It’s worth noting, however, that the claimed range will fall to 251 miles.

The GT will ride on 21-inch alloy wheels and boast sportier exterior styling to separate it from the rest of the range. It will also lose the GT-Line S’s panoramic sunroof to save on weight and have black suede bucket seats with neon green detailing instead of the base model’s sports seats. Standard equipment will include upgraded tech such as electronically controlled suspension with an electronic limited-slip differential and a drive-mode controller.

A battery heat pump is also standard on the GT, which is designed to maximise the car’s driving range in cold weather. It’s an option on the GT-Line and GT-Line S models. We’re told that you’ll be able to achieve 80% of the car’s quoted range in temperatures as low as -7 with the pump fitted.

Charging

Offering the very latest charging technology, the EV6 will be able to recharge from 10%-80% in just 18 minutes at a maximum of 239kW. ​​The EV6 also introduces a new multi high-speed charging system that’s compatible with ultra-fast charging and fast-charging without the need for any special adapter or on-board charger.

The EV6 can also supply electricity if it has enough charge, in what’s called vehicle-to-load (V2L). The EV6 is capable of powering electrical appliances such as phones and laptops, as well as household appliances. Kia says you’ll be able to power a 55-inch TV and an air conditioner simultaneously for more than 24 hours. It can also be used to recharge another electric car if needed.

Kia also offers a Charge solution package, with an accompanying smartphone app, which gives EV6 owners access and navigation to approximately 205,000 AC and DC charge points across Europe. Three membership levels are available depending on usage.

Styling

Kia says this is the first model launched under its new design philosophy, which means future Kia models will incorporate some of the details you can see on the EV6. In particular, the ‘Digital Tiger Face’ front end is a progression of Kia’s current ‘tiger nose’ grille, and uses sharp daytime running lights and sequential light patterns.

With a steeply sloped rear windscreen and a full-width light bar, the rear of the EV6 looks like a cross between the Kia Stinger and Aston Martin DBX. Thanks to black trim pieces, the roof looks to be floating, while black wheel arch cladding is influenced by SUVs and 4x4s. Previous spy shots have revealed that it’ll be slightly taller than a Tesla Model 3, which will be one of this car’s main rivals.

Interior

Moving to an EV-specific platform means the new car offers much more interior space than the current Kia e-Niro. The interior looks very smart too, with as many interesting touches as the exterior. There’s a large curved touchscreen on top of the dashboard, alongside a set of digital dials. Both are 12.3-inches in size. The heating and air conditioning controls are accessed by touch panels with haptic feedback, and the seats are upholstered in fabric created from recycled plastics - an amount equivalent to 111 plastic bottles per car.

An augmented-reality head-up display system is also available, which projects driving information onto the windscreen in the driver’s line of sight. Meanwhile, the latest version of the Kia Connect software (replacing the ‘UVO’ system) allows you to find local electric car charge points - and how much they cost - plus check the range radius and the progress of charging when it’s plugged in.

The EV6 features a lot of the new safety technology from the Hyundai Group, such as a warning that tells you if it’s not safe to leave the car - it looks out for cyclists and other vehicles. You’re also able to remotely park the car and semi-autonomous driving capability features too. Kia’s Highway Driving Assist 2 system includes adaptive cruise control, lane-change assist and technology that keeps you in the centre of the lane you’re driving in.

Practicality

The car’s platform, specifically designed for electric cars, means the EV6 should prove practical, with the batteries stashed out of the way underneath the floor. Behind the rear seats is 520 litres of boot space - about the same as a SEAT Ateca - increasing to around 1,300 litres with the seats down. There’s also a small trunk underneath the bonnet that offers 52 litres of space (20 litres for four-wheel-drive models).

Impressively, Kia says the car can tow 1,600kg, which is comparable to a modern petrol or diesel engine. It can do this as long as there is at least 35% charge in the battery.

The new E-GMP platform will be the launchpad for a whole host of electric Kia models; the Korean brand is planning to have 11 EVs on sale in the next five years. Seven of these will be built on the E-GMP underpinnings and four will be based on existing Kia models. The Kia EV6 will also be built on the same underpinnings as Hyundai’s retro-styled Ioniq 5.

It’s expected that hybrids and plug-in hybrids will continue to be part of Kia’s strategy for a while yet. These, along with the electric models, are forecast to make up a quarter of Kia’s sales by 2025 - even if the EV6 halo model makes up a very small part of that.

2021 Kia EV6 GT-Line S prototype drive by Sean Carson

In the space of a few short years, Kia has firmly established itself at the forefront of electric car manufacturing. The brand has quickly moved from hybrid powertrains to fully electrified models like the Kia e-Niro in just a few short years.

The South Korean manufacturer has now laid out the game plan for its electrified future, starting with this: the new Kia EV6. It’s the first purpose-built electric car from the brand, sitting on the E-GMP platform that’s shared with the Ioniq 5 EV.

Like the Ioniq 5, the EV6 is bigger in the metal than it looks in pictures, measuring in at just under 4.7 metres long. The Kia also features sleeker styling than its Hyundai counterpart, with a swooping coupe-esque design over the Ioniq 5’s angular styling.

According to Kia’s engineers, our dual-motor AWD-equipped test car was near-production ready, with only some final calibration changes to the suspension setup to be done. In this guise, the dual-motor setup sends 321bhp to all-four wheels, fed by a 77.4kWh battery. This setup gives the EV6 a claimed range of up to 314 miles and a 0-62mph time of 5.2 seconds.

On the road the EV6’s powertrain gives it formidable acceleration, with an instantaneous power delivery making it easy to get up to motorway speeds and complete overtakes.

Refinement on the move is good too, with a minimal amount of wind noise at motorway speeds. The interior does a good job of minimising tyre rumble as well. The ride is slightly firm, with larger road bumps and imperfections making their way into the interior.

While the EV6 weighs in at 2,015kg, it boasts a sharp turn in, which helps it hide its considerable mass. This gives it a secure and nimble feel when cornering, so it’s actually quite fun. It feels sharper than the Ioniq 5, with the clever frequency selective suspension setup giving it an excellent balance of smoothness at motorway speeds with enough firmness on twister roads to help resist body lean.

Like other Kia EVs, we found the EV6’s predicted range figure to be trustworthy and accurate in Eco mode, with the ‘i-pedal’ regenerative braking system channelling energy back to the battery. It’s perfect for one-pedal driving at lower speeds, and is intuitive and easy to use.

Inside, all of the interior technology is straightforward and simply laid out, with a fuss-free design we’ve come to expect from Kia. The dual 12.3-inch screens boast sharp graphics and are snappy and responsive to touch inputs. Elsewhere, the E-GMP platform packaging means there’s an excellent amount of interior space for both front and rear passengers thanks to a flat floor. Headroom was also good, despite the sleek roofline. The boot space is flexible and stands at 480 litres, with a good amount of flexibility on offer even with a subwoofer reducing overall load space; another notable talent carried over from the brand’s conventional models.

Verdict

Based on our test, the Kia EV6 is a strong contender in the sporty EV sector. While the chassis could be a little too firm for some, it’s more engaging to drive than its nearest rivals. The all-wheel-drive models boast rapid performance and a strong range figure, with advanced charging technology making it simple to live with. It’s also very practical and has an impressive high-tech interior but it’s expensive to buy.

Read our reviews of Kia’s current models here.

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