Kia EV6: What We Learnt From Driving It To 0%

  • Dec 3, 2023
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It will entice you with its looks, but is actually just a sensible family car at heart.

Kia EV6

Kia’s flagship for the Indian market is a UFO-lookalike called the ‘EV6’. It’s a rather plain name for what looks like a super futuristic product. Spend some time with it, however, and you realise there’s so much sense and practicality built in, that the wow factor is simply a bonus. 

#1 LOOKS EXPENSIVE!

Kia EV6

If Kia chose to assemble the Kia EV6 locally, they could potentially knock off a cool Rs 10-15 lakh from the asking price. Hyundai has proved this with the Ioniq 5, and the recent report of it finding 1000 homes in India (yes, for a Rs 50 lakh Hyundai!) does not seem surprising at all. 

The good part is that on the surface, at least, the EV6 looks like a Rs 70 lakh vehicle. It has the design and the presence to pull that off. The last time we’ve had so many necks turn towards the car we were driving around was probably the Ioniq 5, and for similar reasons. 

There’s nothing that looks quite as outlandish as the EV6. The bodystyle is a happy mix of crossover, coupe and estate. The sloping nose, the wide headlamps, large 19” wheels and the wrap-around tail lamps all come together well in giving the EV6 oodles of presence. 

#2 A LITTLE UNDERWHELMING

Kia EV6 Interior

Now that the looks of the EV6 have you floored, you’d expect to be wowed all over again once you get inside the car. There’s a tinge of disappointment waiting for you there, sadly. 

To begin with, the design will grab your attention — even if it’s finished in a rather simple black and dull gray combination. The real bummer is the quality of plastic used on the dashboard. It does not feel like it belongs in a vehicle that costs as much. A properly soft-touch dashboard would’ve been great to have. 

Also, like most manufacturers, Kia has an obsession with piano black surfaces. You’d notice this in the climate control/media interface, the gear selector and the controls for the seat ventilation. These surfaces are prone to picking up scratches. Another annoyance with the placement of the seat ventilation switches is that you end up turning them on accidentally while trying to use the climate or media controls. 

#3 A SANDWICH

Kia EV6

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We spent nearly 1000km inside the EV6, and needed some time to figure out a comfortable seating position up front. We’ve spent a similar amount of time in the Hyundai Ioniq 5, and this wasn’t as big of an issue there. 

The reason is the EV6’s larger battery pack that raises the floor board higher. Combine this with the more aggressive roofline of the vehicle, and you are left with limited room from floor to roof. To counter this, you end up tilting the seat a little further, and increasing the angle of the seat base as well. This does not feel entirely natural, but you do get used to it.

On other counts, such as rear seat space, boot space and overall practicality — the EV6 does not disappoint. There are thoughtful touches too, such as a proper 3-pin plug for the rear occupants, USB Type-C ports embedded into the seat and a built-in phone holder in the cup holder. 

A major miss though remains the spare tyre. For a long-range EV in India, this is a miss in practicality.

#4 DRIVE TO ZERO

Kia EV6

We’ve driven far too many EVs to absolute 0% to have any kind of range anxiety. With the EV6 all-wheel drive, we had a different dilemma altogether. Its 77.4kWh battery pack is the largest we’ve tested till date, and driving that to zero in a day would involve some serious mile munching. 

We devised a run that included long highway stretches such as Pune-Satara, Pune-Mumbai-Pune Expressway, significant inclines such as the Kambhatki Ghat, Lavasa and Amby Valley, and some in-city driving leading up to these places for good measure. Vital to note, this wasn’t a hypermiling run nor were we forcing a battery drain. 35-50kmph in the city, 40-60kmph on inclines, 80-100kmph on the highway, to ensure a drive cycle that wouldn’t be alien to anyone who’d actually buy and live with the Kia EV6.

Kia EV6 Range

On a 100% charge — the Kia EV6 AWD managed a cool 502.2km. 

Here are a few things we learnt: 

  • The first few percent of charge is lost practically immediately. We’d covered a mere 3.2km and the range charge dropped from 100 to 97%. 

  • From there on, the DTE read out is fairly accurate. It also adjusts dynamically based on your driving style and regeneration. 

  • Trust the battery percentage more than the DTE in any case — we averaged 5km per per cent of charge. If you are driving fast everywhere, you can expect this to drop down to 4.3-4.5km.

  • There’s absolutely no change in performance of the vehicle at any point in time. It’s only at 0% that you switch into ‘Limp Home Mode’. 

  • Even at 0% you have an indicated range of 2km to get to a charging station. 

  • Air-conditioning has an impact on the expected range — not just whether it’s on or off, but also the temperature/fan speed you choose. We had set it to a comfortable 23°, and used seat ventilation very generously on our drive. Using ventilation, surprisingly, has no effect on range. 

  • The ‘Auto’ mode for brake energy regeneration is calibrated beautifully! You can activate it by pulling the right paddle shifter. In this mode, the vehicle selects brake energy regeneration level on its own by using the front radar and determining how close/far you are from the vehicle in front. Inside the city, this distance is usually low, so it selects stronger regeneration, enabling single pedal driving. Conversely, it lowers the regen out on the highway so you can coast comfortably. 

  • From the top of Amby Valley to the Food Court on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway — an entirely downhill stretch of ~40km was dealt with a ZERO loss in range. That is how efficient regenerative braking can get! 

  • You can also switch to the ‘i-Pedal’ mode by pulling the left paddle. This sets regeneration to maximum and is the single pedal mode. This is particularly helpful inside the city and helps maximize range. 

  • It needs a ‘regular’ cruise control function. With adaptive cruise control, the minimum distance it maintains on the highway is enough for a vehicle (or two) to squeeze through, derailing the process. Other features in the ADAS suite, such as the lane keep, blindspot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, function as intended. 

#5 CHARGE TIMES AND SOME REFLECTION

Kia EV6

Once we were at 0%, we rushed to a fast 120kW DC charger. 0-100% took exactly one hour, and ~ Rs 2140. Here we noticed that the EV6 brims up the first 90% almost hilariously quickly. From there on, to protect the battery pack and balance the cells, the charging rate slows down. 

Up to 50 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

20 minutes

51 - 55 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

2 minutes

56 - 60 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

3 minutes

61 - 65 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

3 minutes

66 - 70 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

2 minutes

71 - 75 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

2 minutes

76 - 80 percent

118 kW - 119 kW

2 minutes

81 - 85 percent

118 kW

5 minutes

86 - 90 percent

60 kW

4 minutes

91 - 95 percent

35 kW - 40 kW

7 minutes

96 - 98 percent

29 kW - 30 kW

5 minutes

99 - 100 percent

22 kW

5 minutes

 

There are a few interesting numbers here: 

  • 0-50% took 20 minutes. That’s 250km of range added in the time you’d take to freshen up and order a coffee. 

  • 0-90% took 45 minutes. That’s 450km of range added in the time you’d have a small meal with the family. 

  • For the drive, our shoot and support crew drove a Fronx Turbo manual. At the end of the day, we’d spend nearly twice as much brimming that up to cover the same range. 

  • We repeat, this charge time was at 120kW. The EV6 is capable of twice the charging speed. 

It’s rare that anyone would drive 500km in a single go. Even if you take a break every few hours just to stretch and grab a coffee, that’s enough time for the EV6 to rest and recharge for all the range you’ve lost getting there. Of course, the caveat here is that it needs a fast DC charger. The slow AC charger does practically nothing to its large 77.4kWh battery pack. With a 7.4kW AC fast charger (that some residential properties now have installed) you’d be looking at 5 hours to add 40 percent charge/roughly 200km of range.

If a reliable DC fast charging infrastructure is in place, we see no reason why you couldn’t do a cross-country road trip in the EV6. It’s definitely built for one!

Kia EV6 Video Review

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