HEALDSBURG, Calif. – Remember how a few decades ago the Japanese auto industry came along and ate everyone’s lunch? History does not repeat itself, says the aphorism, but it rhymes. And this time the lunch food is courtesy of Korea’s automakers.
This is especially true for electric vehicles. The second-generation electric vehicles from Kia and parent company Hyundai were some of the few that came close to Tesla in powertrain efficiency. The companies applied this knowledge to create E-GMP, a custom built 800V platform for larger electric vehicles with rear and four-wheel drive.
The first vehicle to feature this powertrain was the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which went straight to the top of the class when we tested it in late 2021. Today we drive the Ioniq 5’s cousin, the Kia EV6. If the Ioniq 5 is all pixels and angles, the EV6 starts with a similar bone structure but drapes it into a much curvier crossover body. Everyone has different tastes so I’ll try not to dwell on a car’s looks, but from some angles the EV6 looks better Lamborghini-Urus. And its tail design definitely reminds me of that Aston Martin DBX.
Karim Habib, Kia’s design chief, welcomed the proposal. He conceded that from behind and squinting, “there are some similarities. But no. It was important to us to use the potential of architecture,” he said. “What EV platforms are really giving us is definitely more freedom, and I also think there’s an openness in general to body types that might not be clearly categorized into one segment or another. We just wanted to try something like that.”
During the first drive in California, the journalists involved had different opinions about which form factor best describes the EV6. However, the Kia employees present were determined to call the EV6 a CUV.
“With this flat floor, you can sit more flexibly,” explains Habib. “You don’t have a particularly solid place for your feet or your heels. You can turn, you can slide. Yes, the downside is it builds more height, but there are some things that help us in return.” He pointed to the trend toward larger and larger wheels that make a big car appear smaller until you get up close comes.
“So the bike-to-body relationship stays pretty healthy,” he told me. “What gets a little trickier is if you go shorter you stay high. That’s why you’re looking at so many EVs in the crossover or SUV direction, because it just works.”
E-GMP was always intended for larger vehicles (Kia has cheaper front-wheel drive electric vehicles like the Niro for the actual small car market). And so the EV6 is bigger than you first think. At 184.3 inches (4,681mm), the EV6 is a few inches longer than the Ioniq 5, but its 114.2-inch (2,901mm) wheelbase is slightly shorter than its predecessor. (Yes, that’s also the same wheelbase as Kia’s much larger three-row Telluride SUV.)
Three powertrains to choose from
The EV6’s powertrain layout is conventional for a battery EV, with a plate of lithium-ion polymer cells between the axles. The entry-level model is the rear-wheel-drive EV6 Light for $40,900 (before tax credits). The Light’s 58 kWh battery powers a 167 hp (125 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) AC synchronous permanent magnet motor, which in turn powers the rear wheels. Curb weight for this version is 1,822 kg (4,017 lbs) of which 370 kg (816 lbs) comes from the battery pack.
The light has a range of 232 miles (373 km). The E-GMP platform can be fast-charged to 80 percent in 18 minutes when connected to a 350kW charger, or in 63 minutes if you can only find a 50kW DC charger. (Technically, the smaller pack doesn’t charge at more than 180kW, but you’ll need to find a 350kW-capable charger to see those speeds.) Stage 2 AC charging takes just under six hours at 11kW.
Kia didn’t have EV6 lights for us to try, but we did spend plenty of time behind the wheel of the other two powertrain variants. Both use a 77.4 kWh battery (gross capacity). The single engine RWD configuration produces 225 hp (168 kW) and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) to achieve a range of 310 miles (499 km). The twin-engine all-wheel drive produces 320 hp (239 kW) and 446 lb-ft (605 Nm) for a range of 274 miles (441 km).
As with the less powerful EV6, these are AC permanent magnet synchronous motors. The motors can rev up to 15,000 rpm (up from 11,000 rpm for the Niro) and use square copper hairpins and oil cooling. The front engine, if equipped, is linked to a disconnect device so it can be quickly disconnected from the wheels to prevent towing. However, to maximize energy return through regenerative braking, the motor will re-engage as you decelerate.
Both engine configurations are available in either Wind trim ($47,000 for RWD or $50,900 for AWD) or in the slightly lighter but sportier-looking GT line ($51,200 for RWD, $55,900 for AWD). (All of these prices are gross of tax credits, by the way). These EV6s weigh slightly more – the larger package is 477 kg (1,052 lbs) so the curb weight is between 1,916 and 2,114 kg (4,225 – 4,661 lbs).
Load times for the larger package are the same whether it’s a single or twin engine version. A 350kW charger (actual max power: 240kW) will get you to 80 percent in 18 minutes, while a 150kW fast charger will get the job done in 25 minutes. (Unlike many other electric vehicles, the EV6’s platform allows for fast charging at either 800V or 400V. How? The motor and inverter act as DC-DC converters.) Expect for everyday charging at home or work a full charge just over seven hours from an 11 kW (48 Amp) AC power source.