Kia EV6 Air review: entry level EV packs plenty of performance and spec for lower price
The Korean brand’s third battery-powered vehicle has taken the things that made the Niro and Soul EVs a success and scaled them up into a larger, more premium product. It’s big, family friendly, well-equipped, with an impressive range and a competitive price tag that sets it firmly up against the likes of the Skoda Enyaq, Volkswagen ID.4, Audi Q4 e-tron, Ford Mustang Mach-e, Nissan Ariya and Tesla Model Y.
The EV6 range is fairly simple. Three trim levels - Air, GT Line and GT Line S - and two motor options - 226bhp two-wheel drive or 321bhp all-wheel drive (we’ll ignore the 522bhp GT for the moment).
The Air spec is the entry level version of the EV6, offering the most affordable route into this excellent EV. That’s not to say it’s cheap, with a list price of around £45,000 but it’s hardly low-spec either, despite its place at the bottom of the range. High-end kit such as heated seats and steering wheel, are standard, as are twin 12.3-inch screens, a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control and navigation-based adaptive cruise control. It’s only when you want luxuries like a powered tailgate, adaptive headlights and a head-up display that you need to look further up the trim levels.
Having driven the higher-spec GT Line, I have to admit to missing little extras like the posher “premium relaxation seats” and 360-degree camera but that’s just an entitled motoring journalist speaking. The EV6 Air has all the functions you really need day to day and, beneath the baubles, is technically the same as higher-spec cars. It uses the same 226bhp motor and 77.4kWh battery setup and offers the same impressive combination of performance, driving range and charging speeds.
The on-paper stats for the rear-wheel drive EV6 are a range of 328 miles and consumption of 3.76 miles per kWh. We didn’t achieve that but over several hundred miles we saw a comfortable 300 miles on a 100% charge. When that charge depletes, the EV6 is one of a handful of EVs that will charge at 350kW, meaning a 10-80% charge will take just 18 minutes. The one key downside to the Air spec is that you can’t add the optional heat pump, which helps get the most out of the battery on cold days.
The 226bhp is enough to get the EV6 from standstill to 62mph in 7.3 seconds but, as with all EVs, what’s more impressive is the always-available instant torque that gives this two-tonne machine surprising responsiveness. There’s also a surprisingly liveliness to the way it handles, with impressive body control and quick, natural feeling steering. That, however, comes at the expense of ride comfort, which is a touch firm.
Alongside its relative agility, one of the most impressive elements is the amount of space the EV6 offers. It’s a big car - 10cm longer than the Sportage - but its wheelbase is 22cm longer, bigger than even the seven-seat Sorento, creating masses of legroom. It’s also as wide as a Sorento, so there’s loads of shoulder room too. Our test car was pressed into service for a week’s holiday for five of us. Despite long hours on the road there was none of the usual bickering about who was crowding whom or who needed more space for their feet. There also wasn’t any struggle to fit luggage in the 490-litre boot and the smartly arranged cabin offers plenty of spaces for bottles, bags of sweets and all the usual family detritus.
The cabin will be familiar to anyone who has sat in any current-generation Kia. There’s plenty of glossy black plastic and chrome-coloured trim arranged in a sensible if slightly dull design and everything looks and feels built to last. Two 12.3-inch screens handle all the information and infotainment tasks while a smart multifunction panel offers physical controls that can be switched between media and climate functions at the touch of a button. The Air spec offers vegan “leather” upholstery rather than the fancier suede finish of GT Line cars but apart from that and touches like heated rear seats, there’s not much to tell them apart.
And that makes the EV6 Air an easy car to recommend. Despite being the entry level car it’s still packed with equipment and offers the same unrivalled blend of space, performance and range that makes the EV6 such an impressive machine.
Kia EV6 Air
Motor: Single synchronous electric motor
Torque: 258lb ft
Transmission: Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
Top speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Range: 328 miles
Consumption: 3.76m/kWh (combined)
Charging: up to 350kW