Does the new entry-level Kia EV6 Air offer the best value-for-money in the electric car's line-up?
4.5 out of 5
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The Kia EV6 Air will appeal to plenty of customers solely looking for a practical, all-electric family car with impressive range. It delivers on these fronts but there’s more, this entry-level EV6 feeling almost as premium as higher-spec models and just as good to drive. Add-in the significant cost saving and the Air could be the pick of the EV6 range.
We rate the EV6 highly here at Auto Express. It comfortably beat the Volkswagen ID.4 GTX in a head-to-head earlier this year and it’s impressed so far in both range-topping GT-Line S trim and in supercar-baiting GT form. Now it’s time to try the cheapest EV6 you can buy, the Air.
Although the Air model costs a significant £3,000 less than the middle-tier GT-Line version, there’s not much to separate the two (or indeed the GT-Line S and GT that sit above) in terms of looks. Instead of body-coloured wheel arch trims, and side skirts, they’re gloss black on the Air. The front and rear bumpers have a less aggressive design, which also shrinks the EV6’s length by 15mm, and the width is down 10mm.
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Given the Air is the lowest rung of the EV6 ladder, you'd expect it to offer a smaller battery than the other trim levels. The Air actually gets the same 77.4kWh battery found in the rest of the range, which means it offers 328 miles on a single charge. A single-motor on the rear axle means there’s actually 14 more miles of range than the more expensive dual-motor, all-wheel drive variants can muster.
Car group tests
During our test we drove the EV6 Air on a mix of urban and motorway roads and found that unlike other EVs, the efficiency figure didn’t dip when we started cruising at higher speeds with a steady 3.9 miles per kWh consumed on average.
Another factor that’ll help put any notion of range anxiety to the back of your head is the EV6’s excellent charging speed. Every EV6 is equipped with 350kW charging capacity, so once that kind of charger is available in the UK you’ll see recharging times of 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes.
Just like its Hyundai Ioniq 5 cousin, the EV6 has excellent road manners thanks to its E-GMP architecture. The EV6 has a slightly more dynamic feel to it, the use of a MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear end shows Kia has emphasised driving fun.
The EV6 Air utilises a rear-wheel drive set up with 226bhp, opposed to the 321bhp in the all-wheel drive models. It’s more playful in RWD form, although it’s a decent chunk slower from 0 to 62mph at 7.3 seconds instead of the AWD’s 5.2 seconds. The RWD’s 350Nm of torque gives it plenty of shove coming out of corners and you notice a definite rear-driven feel to the EV6 Air.
In tighter bends, the EV6 can feel a little out of place with its long 2,900mm wheelbase. It’s fairly easy to initiate understeer should you be overzealous with your inputs. With this in mind it’s rare that you want to switch the driving mode out of Eco or Normal and into Sport, because the more responsive throttle and steering show up the car’s 1,985kg kerb weight at times – not to mention eating into your range.
The EV6 is a medium-sized SUV, but it feels compact out on the road. One gripe would be the lack of leg bracing, if you’re cornering particularly vigorously you can find yourself being flung around without the support of a transmission tunnel.
Although it's the sportier model in comparison to the Ioniq 5, ride quality is just as good. In town you can sometimes feel bumps and ruts vibrate through the cabin and there’s a little bit of tyre roar on the 19-inch wheels but overall it’s a comfortable place to be with the ride settling down on motorway cruises. There’s no sensation that the electric motor is topping out at higher speeds either. The variable cruise control is a nice touch, although it sometimes doesn’t respond to manual speed adjustments from the steering wheel control if it deems you’re too close to other cars.
In an SUV you’d expect visibility to be a plus point with the higher driving position but that’s unfortunately not the case with the EV6. The bonnet rises high, blocking your view so it’s difficult to place the nose while parking, something that’s made all the more difficult by the wide A-pillars. In GT-Line models this nuisance is mitigated by the front parking sensors – which would benefit the Air greatly. The incline of the window line on the rear pillar means there’s virtually no rear three-quarter view.
Despite being the cheapest EV6, the Air still feels premium inside and offers a little more in the way of classy touches than the Kia’s similarly-sized Sportage. Just like on the top-spec models, there’s an impressive 12.3-inch curved driver display and another 12.3-inch central touchscreen. Kia’s infotainment deserves praise too because it’s an intuitive system with crisp graphics.
Below the central display sits a touch-sensitive panel which allows you to toggle between climate controls and audio systems. While it certainly looks premium enough, responds rapidly to inputs and saves another row of controls, you still have to take your eyes off the road to use them. Although the front seats don’t get electric adjustment in the Air, they are heated and so is the two-prong steering wheel.
Some of the materials in the cabin are a little cheaper than the ones you’d find in the range-topping GT-Line S, but you wouldn't feel short changed in the entry-level model because the overall design and layout is no different. There’s also vegan leather seat upholstery for the sustainability-conscious.
The EV6’s boot offers a decent 490-litres and because there’s no electric motor on the front axle, front boot space increases to 52-litres over the AWD’s 20-litres. These generous capacities only add to the Kia’s family car credentials.
|Model:||Kia EV6 Air|
|Transmission:||Single-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive|
|Charging:||10-80% in 18 minutes|
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