Movement that inspires. Kia have long stood by this notion in a bid to bring vehicles that customers actually want to drive. I have driven just one Kia before my recent experience with the brand. I had been travelling throughout South Australia in the hire care and was pleasantly surprised. I had expected the same – and so much more – when I was invited to test drive the newly-released Kia EV6 Air and EV6 GT-Line.

Today after five years in the making, the EV6, Kia’s first dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) built on the company’s EV platform (Electric-Global Modular Platform or E-GMP), has arrived in Australian showrooms. The initial release will lead seven dedicated BEVs to be built on the E-GMP Platform and displays a future-oriented EV design characterised by high-tech details.

Courtesy of Kia

“The platform design of the Kia EV6 is modular and can be adjusted to underpin numerous vehicle shapes and sizes,” Roland Rivero, General Manager of Product Planning tells ICON. “The global plan is that seven vehicles (including the EV6) will utilise this platform, and a further four vehicles will be based on derivative platforms. The models that will be available in Australia will be announced in the coming months — so watch this space.”

The EV6 is available in two grades; the range focused EV6 Air in rear-wheel drive only (RWD) and top trim GT-Line with RWD or all-wheel drive (AWD) options. Driving from Canberra’s picturesque Margaret Whitlam Pavilion to Shaw Wines via Mt Ainslie, ICON got our very own test run in of the car.

“He just did a double take.”

Courtesy of Kia

If it weren’t obvious upon first inspection, the Kia EV6 is sexy. Driving throughout Canberra’s CBD it became immediately clear how sexy it was to onlookers. Pedestrians and road users were often spotted doing a double take as the EV6 weaved throughout traffic and stopped at intersections. There is of course a considered reason for that and was a collaborative effort between all three studios in Kia’s global design network in Namyang (Korea), Frankfurt (Germany), and Irvine (California, US).

Firstly, the car features characteristic front daytime running lights which display a sleek, modern appearance. They form part of the car’s ‘Digital Tiger Face’, a design progression evoking the spirit of Kia’s ‘Tiger Nose Grille’ for the electrified era. The side profile displays a crossover-inspired design aesthetic which is contrasted with sharp lines.

Designed in part to realise ultimate aerodynamic performance, the rear displays a sloping C- pillar with an integrated black glossy insert, which visually widens the window glass. Above this sits a prominent roof spoiler that channels air down towards a raised lower spoiler that sits atop the car’s unique rear light cluster.

“It feels like a real car should.”

Courtesy of Kia

The EV6 certainly has a futuristic feel to it and it is often said that driving an electric car is how we imagine a space ship to feel (more on that later). As more and more electric vehicles trickle into the market it seems those visionary cues are influencing the interior cabin design. Oversized screens and near-empty cabins are just some of the features we see today. I however, appreciate the familiar approach to design of a traditional car, alongside some impressive space and technology.

The new interior features a high-tech curved high-definition audio visual and navigation (AVN) screen which extends from the steering wheel across to the centre of the car, it displays an instrument cluster in front of the driver, with infotainment and navigation above the centre console. Below the AVN screen sits the car’s new multi-mode display. This replaces physical buttons with a dedicated capacitive touchscreen.

There’s also the usual features you expect in a new car: an engine start/stop button with smart entry, all-round electric windows and an automatic windscreen defog system. For ultimate comfort there is an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual zone climate control air conditioning, electronic park brake (EPB) with auto hold function, smart cruise control with stop and go functionality. As for technology, a wireless charging pad sits in the centre console of the car while there are a myriad of USB ports throughout the interior.

Oh, and did we mention that sections of the dashboard and centre console are clad in recycled plastics? Equivalent to 107 plastic 500ml water bottles per car.

“I feel like I’m floating.”

Courtesy of Kia

Back to that space ship-esque feeling. Sound absorbent materials in the floor, wheel arches, doors, boot lid and tyres reduce road and wind noise, creating a quiet driving experience, particularly when driving at faster speeds. Sport mode further enhances this. Acoustic windshield and door glass further on GT-line models improve the on-board experience giving the EV6 a sound rating equal to higher-class premium models.

Handling of the car also lends a smoother ride. EV6 incorporates an advanced frequency dependent damper technology by ZF Sachs’ termed Selective Damping Control 3 (SDC3). Kia is the first mainstream brand to utilise this technology following on from prestigious makes AMG and Maserati.

“It’s intuitive.”

Courtesy of Kia

Particularly throughout the busier roads of Australia’s capital city is where the EV6 safety and technology features really shine. A suite of safety devices feature on the EV6, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with car, pedestrian, cyclist detection with junction turning assist, a drive mode select system, Hill-start assist control (HAC), Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA), Lane Follow Assist (LFA), Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Driver Attention Warning with lead vehicle departure alert (DAW+), Multi-Collision Brake (MCB), Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and a Tyre Mobility Kit (TMK).

For example, with the indicator on and in an attempt to merge, the car stopped me from changing lanes when it detected a car moving quickly from behind. With a couple of big blindspots the only downfall to the EV6 design in my opinion, I was rest assured by its ability to assist me in driving safely.

“I’d be comfortable taking this on long road trips.”

It was a sentiment that was echoed throughout the day by fellow test drivers. Electric cars, particularly in Australia have been sluggish to gain traction in past years, in part due to the inefficiency of having to charge after shorter distance when compared to fuel-powered cars. Our country is vast.  With more charging ports established throughout the regions and thanks to the impressive range of an EV6, it is easier to really go travelling.

All EV6 models come with a Type 2-to-domestic three-pin plug trickle charger. When using a 350kW charger, the 800V charging capability means the EV6 can go from 10-to-80 per cent battery charge in just 18 minutes.

You can also charge just about anything which Rivero tells ICON might surprise customers. “There are two power point sockets in the Kia EV6 — one inside and one outside the vehicle. The EV6 can charge just about anything, for example, when you’re on the move, you can charge a laptop. When stationary, you can power a camp site, appliances, or another electric vehicle.”

For more information on the Kia range of EV6 vehicles, visit here.

Pricing (RRP):
EV6 Air RWD – $67,990
EV6 GT-Lline RWD – $74,990
EV6 GT-Line AWD – $82,990

thoughts?