Test Drive: The New Kia EV6
Ian Lamming charges forth in Kia’s latest electric vehicle
THIS is going to be touch and go and I’m stressed again.
I’ve turned up at the local supermarket to charge the test car and all the bays are occupied. There’s a two hour limit on the car park before you are fined and it’s going to take at least 1.5 hours as I’m down to the last 9 per cent of battery.
Fifteen precious minutes have already ebbed by and a bay becomes free. Except, for some reason, the charging terminal doesn’t like the Kia EV6 and switches off after just three minutes.
I hand over my bay to an Audi E-tron and it works for him but I’m back in the queue for another 15 minutes before I can get on another charger. As I write this in the car – I wouldn’t dare leave it to its own devices – I’ve everything crossed that it doesn’t shut down again.
I’m now convinced of the need to invest in a home charger. Bad enough that you have to give up a wet and soggy Sunday afternoon to sit in a wind-swept car park charging, so you are full for the Monday morning school run, but the chargers are woefully under-supplied and far from reliable. A 7kW home charger should do the job in seven hours 20 minutes, according to Kia, and the friendly Audi driver recommends PodPoint, so I’ll have a look at that.
I tried plugging the Kia in at home but two hours on the three point added just seven miles so that’s not going to work either.
Until now the Kia had been one of the better EVs with a genuine range of 255 miles but, without the home charger, topping up is a stressful affair. The last time I visited a supermarket with it I was witness to a shameful display of charger point rage as the owner of an EV Mercedes tried to reverse over the driver of an EV MG. There was lots of self-righteousness from the Mercedes driver’s wife, not to mention foul language in front of Mr MG’s young children, who looked visibly upset. It’s a new phenomenon of human behaviour we could certainly do without – like panic buying toilet rolls but with knobs on.
Anyway, I’m charging, I’m writing and my blood pressure is returning to normal, so what is the EV6 like?
It’s impressive, to say the least. It looks amazing, a real eye catcher, in fact a passer-by has just knocked on the window to ask what sort of car it is, with futuristic looks to die for. I love its modernism, its proportions, it’s style, so big tick there Kia.
Inside is a delight too. It is hi-tech with most functions on the very large curved touchscreen but it is blessed with intuitive displays that are easy to memorise and navigate, which is another tick for the Kia. The dash is clever. Between two knobs on either side there is a section of touchscreen that doubles up between climate control or navigation/infotainment depending on an arrow you have to press. Sounds complicated but you soon adjust.
Interior space is amazing and so well thought out. There’s no engine to intrude into the passenger cell and the batteries (all 386 cells), sit low between the axles, so the designers have had free play to use every bit of space. Between the driver and the front passenger is a really useful storage section on which the gear selector knob sits, as well as the on/off button, heated seats and heated steering controls and a phone charger pad. There’s also a useful deep storage box with a lid and a large glove box that will actually swallow a laptop. The door bins are large too and there is extra storage under the centre console.
All the trim is top notch with textures and shapes that please the eye, the fascia is made from recycled plastic bottles, and the powered leather/suede seats are extremely comfortable, the front two boasting really clever coat hangers built in just behind the headrests.
Like the majority of EVs on the market the EV6 is exceptional to drive. It is stupendously smooth and quiet, breath-takingly quick and offers instant power that is ultra-controllable.
Acceleration and overtakes are just so rapid, motorbike-like in fact, and even flitting round town seems easier as EV6 sticks to the speed you require without accidentally straying into speeding territory.
Exceptional ride soaks up the very worst of our post-winter pothole-strewn roads and the fantastic weigh distribution means the handling is absolutely spot on. Brakes are powerful too, as I discovered down a single track road when a pick-up decided to round the bend full chat.
It also struck me driving EV6 during one of the many storms that electrics are at their best on flooded roads. No exhaust pipes or engine air intakes to suck up water, no cylinders to clog with swamp and the EV6 also has decent ride height allowing me to follow a Discovery through the murky depths with impunity.
Time to check progress. I’m up to 60 per cent charge and the readout is telling me I’ve 45 minutes left to go – with 45 minutes left on the car park. Phew! I might just do it after all.
Engine: 74kW electric
Power: 226BHP, 350Nm
0-62mph: 7.3 secs
Top speed: 114mph
Transmission: one-speed auto RWD
CO2 g/km: 0