Kia EV6 India drive review: The definitive edition of electric cars
The Kia EV6 is a bold manifestation of Kia's electric ambitions and is the fulcrum on which the Koreans have balanced their aspirations for a new order in the world of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Based on an absolutely new Electric Global Modular Platform or e-GMP which seeks to speed up the development of electric vehicles (EVs) the world over, the EV6 has been making waves across the world since it was first introduced early 2021. Awarded the 2022 Car of the Year title, and the first Kia model to do so, the EV6 has been a revelation for many. ‘Hype’, I admit I often thought.
(Also read: Bookings for Kia EV6 now open in India)
"How good can a car, an EV, actually be for people to rave about it in a world still dominated by Tesla offerings?" It took just a few hours at the Buddh International Circuit under stormy conditions for me to (mostly) mince my words and come out shaking my head in acknowledgement that here is a Kia that may not sell in big numbers in our country but one that still deserves instant recognition. And appreciation.
Similar CarsFind More Cars
Kia is bringing in the EV6 via the import route which means it will be a pricey car. I will stick my neck out and even claim I think it will have a price tag upwards of ₹60 lakh. This is why I mentioned that it is unlikely to sell in big numbers anyway. But I also mentioned this EV deserves instant recognition and there's a trunk-full of reasons for it.
Here's our first-drive, test-track review of the Kia EV6:
Kia EV6 drive credentials:
I have always maintained that a race track is a great place to have some authentic drive fun but the last place one would want to test a car's overall abilities to negotiate Indian conditions. So quite obviously, we are taking the range equation out of the picture here although Kia claims a WLTP-certified figure of over 500 kms. This alone should put the EV6 in the big league.
But the circuit in Greater Noida is a perfect place to safely throw a car around for its performance credential checks and the EV6 has some serious numbers to boast of. A 77.4 kWh battery pack is at the core of the EV which will be offered in two variants - GT and GT-Line AWD. It was the second that was made available and its two motors - front and rear axle - put out max power of 347 hp. There is also some serious torque worth 605 Nm on offer. Just delicious on a former F1 track!
The EV6 is capable of firing from standstill to 100 kmph in 3.5 seconds and in our efforts, we were almost as quick. So that is a claim with much weight. But it isn't just about how powerful the EV is but how solidly steady it feels despite the acceleration and even when we hit its electronically-limited top-speed of 192 kmph. A mature steering wheel set up with a perfect overall weight balance helps this Kia model beat back criticism that is often leveled against other Kia products that are offered in India.
And when it is time to bring things to saner levels, the I-Pedal technology is also mighty impressive. It is possible to bring the car to a complete halt using just this technology but there are three levels of regenerative braking for a more ‘conventional’ experience. Pulling the left paddle behind the wheel activates each level of braking intensity. Even at its highest level, the slowing power is engineered to be aggressive yet not overwhelming, and ends at 16 kmph for in-person intervention.
There are also multiple drive modes and while the EV6 is hurriedly capable in the Sport mode, it is quite capable in the Eco and Normal modes as well - eager but not over-enthusiastic and definitley far from being sluggish.
Kia claims that the India-spec model has an increased ground clearance at a little over 170 mm which is great but testing it for ride and drive comfort would mean taking the EV6 out on open Indian city and highway roads. It is a wait worth waiting for.
Kia EV6 looks:
There are plenty of battery-powered options in the luxury space in the Indian car market. Almost every single one of these has an SUV body type. But while SUVs may be the winning formula regardless of drivetrain, Kia has opted for a crossover shape and design for the EV6. And if all crossover models can be designed like this, the growing preference for SUV body types will come under some serious threat.
Angles and muscles in proportionate measure, the Kia EV6 has a smart face courtesy a clamshell bonnet, a sporty front bumper that accentuates the width of the model and a renewed interpretation of the Tiger Nose grille. Flanking the grille are headlights in acute angles and come fitted with dual LED head light and segmented DRLs.
From the side, the EV6 maintains its stylish visual appeal with strong character lines stretching across the body, gloss black treatment on the ORVMs and A pillars, striking alloy design and a swept-back roofline. Even the 19-inch crystal-cut alloy design is as appealing as it is unique.
But the most appealing and unique exterior profile of the EV6 is at the back where the taillight design is outright wacky. It must have been a gamble but a bet that has paid off really well with the lights extending beyond the body panels.
The sequential turn indicators look great and just under the one on the right section is the flap for access to the charging inlet.
It is clear that the Kia designers resisted the temptation to dazzle buyers with chrome and therefore, there is very minimal use of it, barring a strip across the rear section.
From a brand that tends to have good-looking SUVs - and here I am looking at the likes of Seltos as well as international models like Telluride and Sportage, the EV6 has been smartly designed from the outside to help its crossover credentials.
Kia EV6 cabin space and features:
When was the last time Kia drove in a new model and forgot to pamper it with a mile-long list of features? Did someone say ‘never’? Well that would be almost correct because the likes of Seltos, Sonet and Carnival are some of the most feature-packed cars available in India at present. Even global models from the brand are peppered with comfort and conveience features and therefore, it was but obvious that the flagship EV from the company would have it all and then some more.
A 12.3-inch main and 12.3-inch driver screens merge seamlessly into a single curved display touch unit while the pattern on the dashboard seeks to put a youthful touch. The floating center console is extremely impressive to just look at and has a large open storage section underneath it. There is a deep storage space under the armrest between the front passenger and driver seat and more storage options on all four doors.
The ambient lights further enhances the appeal of the cabin but there is a large sunroof to let natural light flow in as well.
The front two seats also have massage functionality, have cooling and heating options, and can recline near flat for what Kia terms as ‘zero gravity’ relaxation position. The only bit I personally did not quite like is the design of the flat-bottomed steering wheel which, although nothing inherently wrong with it, looks more conventional than everything else at the front.
Step back to the back seats and there is generous amount of room for what could well be comfortable long journeys for people with zero range anxieties. An absence of a central floor tunnel means even the passenger in the middle would have plenty of feet space while knee and leg room is quite impressive.
There are more storage options here and the EV offers plenty of ports to charge smart devices, apart from option for wireless phone charging. But the biggest feature highlight for me was the three-pin socket on the back seat. While we couldn't test this specific feature, Kia claims it can power home devices like laptops, TVs, microwave, refrigerators and even provide emergency charge assistance to other EVs. So the next time there is a power cut in your locality, your car may be the new inverter, assuming of course that it is an EV6.
But will you buy the EV6?
Kia EV6 initial verdict:
EVs are blurring the line between new and established players. EVs are also erasing the line between mass-market and luxury-market OEMs. The Kia EV6 is a great case in point with looks, features and drive dynamics that could well match those on offer in EVs from luxury brands.
- Great looks
- Spacious cabin
- Impressive claimed range figure
- Loaded with features
- Strong drive performance
- Expected to be costly for a Kia model
It is just such a shame that the EV6 isn't being locally made, not yet anyway, because if it would have been then the pricing could have been more competitive than what it would be. Kia EV6 will be launched in the country on June 2 and is an EV you deserve even if it may not be the EV you can afford. For those already in the luxury car segment and accustomed to being pampered though, this Kia EV could be a fantastic deep dive into the world of electric mobility.