Kia’s EV6 is a small electric car with big dreams

After spending the last month teasing its new electric vehicle, Kia just laid out a lot of what there is to know about the EV6 — at least for the most expensive models. But it all lines up with what the teaser images, well, teased, which is that the EV6 will be a fun and fast electric car with a refreshingly modest footprint.

Due out in “select global markets” in the second half of this year, including North America, the EV6 is the first Kia car that is built to be electric from the ground up. The modestly successful Niro EV SUV? That was, at a high level, a gas car that was retrofit to run on batteries. The EV6, however, is built on what Kia will use to power six future EVs. That same platform, called E-GMP, is being used by parent company Hyundai to power the Ioniq 5 EV and other future electric vehicles, too. (It’s also allegedly what Apple was interested in before talks broke down.)

Which is all to say that the EV6 is quite an important car for Kia. As such, the company made sure it’s full of attractive features and leading technologies. But it still isn’t going to blow buyers away with its range.

The EV6 will be available in rear-wheel and in all-wheel drive configurations, and Kia will outfit it with standard range (58kWh) or long range (77.4kWh) battery packs. Kia says the rear-wheel drive EV6 with the long-range pack can go 510 kilometers, or roughly 316 miles, based on the European WLTP testing standard. That means an EPA range is likely going to be a little bit less, perhaps under 300 miles. Kia did not provide range estimates for the other configurations.

Depending on the real world results, that’s fairly good efficiency out of a battery pack of that size. But Kia’s promoting just that one range figure, meaning that all other versions of the EV6 will likely get less. Still plenty for daily driving, but some versions of the electric car will not be well suited for long road trips.

One way Kia is compensating for this is very fast charging, at least relative to the current state of electric vehicles. The E-GMP platform uses 800-volt battery packs, like what’s found in the Porsche Taycan, which makes it possible to charge an EV6 from 10 percent to 80 percent in just 18 minutes.

Another is performance, at least for the AWD variants. The all-wheel drive GT version of the EV6 is the top spec, and only comes with the long range battery. It uses two motors to produce a combined 430kW, or roughly 576 horsepower, and can go from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) in just 3.5 seconds.

What may be more exciting than performance or tech specs, though, is that the EV6 supports two-way charging just like Hyundai’s Ioniq 5. The EV6 can put out up to 3.6kW of power — enough to power a 55-inch TV and an air conditioner for more than 24 hours, Kia says. It’s not as powerful as, say, the 7.2kW version of the new hybrid Ford F-150’s optional onboard charger, but then again the EV6 doesn’t use gas to generate this power, and it will be a heck of a lot cheaper. Kia says the EV6 can also tow up to 1,600 kilograms (roughly 3,500 pounds) as long as the battery is more than 35 percent full, too.

What will set the EV6 apart more than anything is its exterior styling. Kia calls it a crossover, which isn’t wrong. But it also has big hatchback vibes. From some rear angles, it bears some resemblance to the Polestar 2. From the side, it’s a longer, meaner Ioniq 5. It’s certainly not bubbly or unassuming, like many of the SUVs that currently make up Kia’s lineup. Rather, it’s aggressive without being ostentatious; eye-catching, if not eye-watering. In a world that’s increasingly full of big, bloated vehicles, the EV6 is a breath of fresh air — even if the E-GMP platform it uses will most certainly wind up powering larger vehicles for Kia and Hyundai.

The EV6’s interior is more familiar. There are two 12-inch curved displays that sit inside a structure that rises up from the dashboard, one in front of the driver and one for infotainment purposes. There’s also an augmented reality heads-up display that projects information into the driver’s field of view. Kia promises this will all be updatable over-the-air, and there are advanced driver assistance features to boot. Otherwise, the inside of the EV6 just looks like the inside of a Kia.

The Kia EV6, in some respects, looks to be a bold remaking of the company’s otherwise solid initial foray into the world of electric vehicles. But what Kia shared about the EV6 is almost as important as what it omitted. There is no word on pricing of the various configurations, and Kia also conveniently left out specs for what will certainly be the more affordable models. For such an important car, there remains a fair amount of mystery.

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