FOR some reason driving a pure EV in this country carries a degree of snob value as many owners gloat in their choice of ‘green’ transport that costs a bomb and goes like the clappers, while allegedly having less impact on the planet.
Car snobbery used to apply to petrol or diesel Mercs and Bimmers but now it’s Tesla, Polestar and Kia BEVs. Yes, Kias…
The South Korean car-maker, currently outpacing parent Hyundai in local sales, offers four versions of its fully electric EV6 large SUV. There are two versions of the single motor rear-wheel drive starting at $72,590 plus on roads, then, the subject of this review, the all-wheel drive dual motor EV6 GT-Line priced from $87,590 plus ORCs. Then there’s the big daddy EV6 GT AWD with 1000 horsepower… joking, it’s ‘only’ 430kW (576hp) at a snip under $100 grand plus ORCs.
The test vehicle has scant competition in the segment, particularly when price is taken into account. Jag’s I-Pace BEV starts at $146,857 plus ORCs, Audi’s E-Tron wagon starts from $147,400 and BMW’s iX starts from $135,900. Hyundai’s Ioniq 5 and 6 are a size down.
The EV6 driven runs a 74kW permanent magnet synchronous motor at the front and a 165kW unit at the rear with 255Nm and 350Nm of torque respectively. Combined output is rated at 239kW and 605Nm. Healthy by anyone’s measure.
It’s enough to push the 2105kg EV6 from 0 to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds. V-max is electronically limited to 200km/h.
Electrons flow from a 77.4kWh lithium ion battery weighing in at 477kg, snuggly fitted under the floor thanks to the vehicle’s dedicated EV platform. It provides a claimed range of 484km and is capable of accepting an 80 per cent charge from a 350kW DC appliance in just 18 minutes.
The EV6 has real presence on the road due to its ‘out there’ styling and size measuring 4695mm in length, 1890mm in width and 1550mm in height riding on a 2900mm wheelbase.
Though electricity consumption towing would probably be excessive, the EV6 driven is rated at 1600kg towing capacity with 100kg on the tow ball.
It is generously equipped in safety terms with a full suite of Kia advanced driver assist features such as multi-collision braking , AEB with car, pedestrian, cyclist and junction recognition, lane keeping assist, lane follow assist, blind spot collision warning, rear cross-traffic alert, safe exit alert, driver attention alert, speed limiter, haptic steering wheel function (vibrating), parking sensors, reverse camera, auto headlights, high beam and wipers, remote window control, surround view monitor and blind spot monitor.
The same applies to luxury kit with the five seat, EV6 GT-Line boasting suede/leather upholstery, multi-function steering wheel, regen’ braking paddles, multi-function trip computer, radar cruise control with Stop & Go functionality, customisable functions, seven USB outlets, heated steering wheel, QI phone charger, ambient interior lighting, eight bottle/cup holders, comprehensive infotainment system on a curved screen, 14-speaker Meridian premium audio, hard-wired satnav, head-up display, full connectivity, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats.
The door handles are flush/pop out units and the tailgate offers handsfree operation.
The EV6 GT-Line has distinctive styling with an angular look to the face and low, arcing roofline. The concave rear with droopy tail lights is polarising. It rolls on huge 20-inch alloys with Conti rubber covering large diameter discs front and rear.
It’s quick. Not as quick as the EV6 GT, but with 239kW/605Nm on tap to overcome 2105kg of inertia, the GT-Line pays attention when you press the ‘quiet’ pedal.
With four drive modes: Eco, Normal, Sport and Snow to play with, drivers can tailor the car’s engine and dynamic responses to suit, which, in our case was mostly Sport mode. Why have this much grunt at your disposal and not use it?
Out of the blocks, the EV6 GT-Line shoves you back into your seat, a sensation that continues unabated to high speeds. However, once on the move, the car seems restricted in roll-on acceleration almost as though Kia engineers have calibrated it to only deliver a controlled amount of grunt.
The EV6 still hauls in this scenario but not as hard as expected.
Noise of any kind is minimal apart from a muted whirr. There is, however, wind noise around the wing mirrors and tyre hum from the heavy duty rubber fitted at highway speeds.
Dynamics are dialled in using the drive modes but the EV6 GT-Line retains a sportiness through most options apart from Snow mode with Sport the firmest and sharpest. Which is how we set the car for a ‘punt’ along a favourite winding stretch of tarmac.
Though quick point-to-point and in a straight line, excessive weight ultimately tells against the all-wheel drive EV6 through fast corners where the end result is the start of a four-wheel drift and squealing tyres. Electronics mask most of this as the car will simply go ‘dead’ if you overstep the mark… set by an engineer, no doubt.
It has quickish steering with 2.7 turns lock-to-lock and the chassis feels rock solid all the time, including over steep servo’ entrance driveways.
Though powerful, the brakes also taper off after a dozen heavy uses becoming a little spongy accompanied by burning brake pads.
Grip is not an issue in the wet.
Particularly handy is the three-mode, one-pedal drive function that will bring the EV6 to a complete halt. The car’s Stop & Go cruise control delivers a similar outcome… with no pedals.
The function is a boon around town and for general commuting at which the EV6 excels. The car offers luxury car comfort with all accoutrements and is easy to drive and park with assistance from technology. Ample ground clearance is provided to avoid damaging the lower front bumper.
Intrusive advanced driver assist functions plague the driver as they default to ‘on’ every time the vehicle is started. Of particular annoyance is the active lane keeping that wrests steering from the driver if they transgress pre-determined parameters. The feature seems designed for inattentive, phone-centric drivers.
We aren’t fans of the pop-out door handles either which are fiddly and require dextrous hand/wrist movements to gain access to the car. Sexy looking though…
Room for five inside is aided by the longish wheelbase and flat floor with a decent size load space down the back. Other critical internal measurements are generous to passengers. Particularly appreciated were the eight way electrically adjustable front seats with massage function and heating.
Driving the EV6 GT-Line is fun and comfy with plenty of get-go immediately available accompanied by near silent running. The semi-sporty dynamics are OK too, unless driving on a rough road, and from a day-to-day user’s perspective the car is relatively easy to recharge especially if there’s a free auto club 50kW charger nearby.
Kia equips the car with the full suite of safety and luxury kit making it a tempting proposition compared with other BEVs in the large SUV segment that cost tens of thousands more. Makes you want a test drive, doesn’t it?