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Kia EV6 First Drive Review: Razor’s edge

It’s a space shuttle, it’s a concept, no it’s the Kia EV6. With a lightning pace, a practical cabin, and a slew of features, we drive this electric crossover on India’s Formula 1 race track.

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Kia is all set to launch the all-electric EV6 and before it makes its India debut, we got to take it for a spin at the Buddh International Circuit. We all know that the new-age electric vehicles offer blistering pace, so why not drive the EV6 in a safe environment and find out what it’s capable of. We will talk about five things that caught our attention. 

Spec check

Globally, the EV6 is available in four variants — Light, Wind, GT Line and GT and it’s available with either a 58kWh battery or a 77.4kWh. The one we are driving is powered by a 77.4kWh battery with twin motors and has an output of 320bhp and 605 Nm of torque. In India, we will get the GT Line trim and Kia is expected to offer only the bigger battery in both single and dual motors and of course rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive. With a WLTP-rated range of 500km, in real-world driving conditions, the EV6 could drive away your range anxiety by offering a 380-400 km range.

Based on an 800V charging architecture like the Porsche Taycan and the Audi e-tron GT, the EV6 can recharge the battery in a jiffy, but there’s a catch here. Only if you have access to a 350kW DC fast charger then it charges from 10% to 80% in mere 18 minutes, but realistically with a 50kW DC charger, it takes around 73 minutes, which is still very good. With the shortage of semiconductor chips still looming on all manufacturers globally, Kia India will initially get 100 units of EV6. Okay, that’s enough about the numbers, let’s get behind the wheel and experience its driving dynamics.

Terrifyingly Electric

At a snail’s pace, we cautiously exited the pit lane and then gently stepped on the pedal and as expected the EV6 started galloping with no hint of early morning blues. While taking Turns 1,2 and 3, the steering wheel revealed how communicative and precise it is. The additional electric assist feels very natural. Once we hit the back straight, we had to throw the kitchen sink and put the pedal to the metal. With the afterburners on full throttle, the EV6 sprinted across the 1.2 km stretch like DC’s Comics character The Flash.

Honestly, I was so caught up in enjoying the ease with which it took off without any fuss or drama that my co-passenger had to point out to me that the car was coasting at 193 kmph. As eager as the EV6 was, we were nearing Turn 4 and to be on the safer side I braked early, not knowing how its stopping capabilities were. To my surprise, the brake force was prompt and well distributed to ensure we avoided going off-track. With good directional stability, it enters the corner at high speeds in a precise and predictable manner based on the inputs of the steering wheel and the brakes. Like the EV6’s contemporaries, it also offers a one-pedal drive along with four regenerative braking modes. 

Getting back to the track, the EV6 isn’t just about scorching pace. It offers no scary lean or body roll while entering and exiting corners, making it a treat to drive on the track. Kia has always tweaked the suspension set-up for a more involving and sporty driving experience and as we are driving on the track, we can’t complain about the ride quality here. We will have to drive on normal roads that are booby-trapped with ditches, potholes and speed breakers to find out the EV6’s ride quality. 

Space-age styling 

The sleek and low-slung design makes the EV6 look like something straight out of the Star Wars franchise. The Digital Tiger nose has an aggressive stance with big swept-back LED headlamps. The clean side profile sports 19-inch alloy wheels, unlike the 20-inch that is available in the global market. This is a good thing as this reduces the road noise generated from the wheels. The flat profile of the EV6 does remind us of a skateboard but let its low-slung design fool you as it has a decent ground clearance of 178mm. The rear has very clean lines and the concept-like LED tail lamps running across from one wheel arch to the other make it quite a stunner. The eye-catching silver strips below the rear lamps are the stunning directional indicators. 

If you have watched sci-fi movies then the cabin of the EV6 will look like a space shuttle. The beautifully crafted seats are made of recycled materials like plastic bottles. The front seats are both heated and ventilated and are contoured to offer maximum comfort. The EV6 has plenty of space and the secret sauce is that Kia has pushed both the front and rear wheels further to ensure one can lounge inside leisurely. There is plenty of legroom for the rear passengers and a flat floor as expected in an EV means the middle passenger can sit here comfortably.

Stand out features

Relaxation Seats: Had a long week at work and couldn’t get the time to recharge the EV6? No problem. When you finally do take the car to a fast-charging station, plug it in and press a button next to the seat controls that make the front seats almost flat, letting you catch some sleep while the battery gets charged. 

Vehicle to load (V2L): We all like to think and say that when taking a break we are switching off all our devices. It’s a novel thought and chances are that doesn’t last too long. So, if you are out camping, you can recharge your devices via the V2L plug point and furthermore plugin home appliances if need be. A V2L dock is located under the rear seat, while an adapter can also be used to connect to the external charging port.

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Augmented Reality Head-Up Display: The EV6 comes with an Augmented Reality Head-Up display where intuitive information in graphics forms appears in the line of your sight. You get turn-by-turn navigation, lane safety information, front vehicle indicator, and leading vehicle departure alert. 

Safety

The EV6 is equipped with a host of active safety systems like Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist which uses a front radar to monitor for potential accidents such as pedestrians, cyclists or other cars, before providing warning alerts and then automatically applying the brakes. It also gets dynamic cruise control, and lane changing assist. Another stand out feature about this car is that it comes with eight airbags. The two additional airbags are placed between the two front seats. 

Twin 12.3-inch displays: The EV6 has two 12.3-inch curved displays, one is the infotainment system and the other is the digital instrument cluster. The touchscreen is intuitive and user friendly like a smartphone. What is interesting to note is that the HVAC control panel gets virtual buttons which also double up as audio system functions.

What could have been better?

Space management for luggage:  The EV6’s boot capacity is 520 litres, which is fairly decent, but it also offers additional storage space under the floor. The problem here is that if you opt for the top variant then the subwoofer eats into the area leaving you limited space. Being an EV the frunk does come to your rescue if it’s the rear-wheel-drive version with 52-litres of space. The all-wheel-drive trim, on the other hand, has two motors as a result the front motor reduces the frunk’s space to 20-litres. 

Rear blind spot: The EV6 does come with a blind-spot warning feature, but with traffic swarming all around you our natural instinct is to use the inside rearview mirror for a clearer view but that becomes limited with the thick scooping C-pillars and the three headrests. 

Verdict

Should you wait and watch, ignore or buy the EV6? As it will be a CBU, it is expected to be pricey, all thanks to the taxes on the direct import of cars. Nonetheless, it’s a capable, electric crossover that offers plenty of kilometre range, and fast-charging capability. The EV6 is also equipped with comfort and safety features and along with a spacious cabin. No doubt, it offers a sublime driving experience and it comes with three driving modes — Eco, Normal and Sport. If you are a true eco-warrior and have the money to back it up then you should go for it. 

Also Read: 2022 Mahindra Scorpio-N vs Old Scorpio Classic: Expected differences

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