This is especially true for electric cars, where buyers who pay more expect a longer range. This increased range inevitably means a larger battery; you guessed it, that bigger battery means more weight.
That extra weight comes at multiple costs, including putting more work into the suspension. And here’s the thing: modern car suspension has enough on its plate already. For starters, it has to compensate for the fact that modern car design relies on bigger wheels and lower profile tires to work. These lower profile tires introduce such harshness that the suspension needs to be soft enough to smooth out.
But it also has to deal with the extra weight and height of modern cars, the former especially in the case of EVs. Both properties introduce a greater tendency to sway and pitch. So while the suspension needs to be soft enough to handle the harshness of the bigger wheels, it also needs to be stiff enough to make up for this extra wobble. The middle ground – that balance between the two – is getting smaller and smaller.
That becomes less if you keep the complexity, and therefore the weight, to a minimum – and even less if you reduce the dimensions of the wheels at the same time. All of this helps explain why modern cars are often best operated in their least complicated, most basic form.
That has certainly been the case with many of our recent tests – the BMW i4, Citroen C5X and Hyundai Ioniq 5, to name a few.
And here’s another one that seems to do the same: the Kia EV6.
Trimming the Fat
In the top-of-the-line GT Line S form, with four-wheel drive and 20-inch wheels, it was “perfectly adequate, but not the most sparkly ride,” as Engels described it on first acquaintance. However, after a brief encounter with the GT Line rear-wheel drive version at his Car of the Year judging, he was moved enough to put the EV6 in first place, saying: “It feels more lively, less crushed in the road surface and there’s even a little bit of feedback from the chassis and steering.” Sounds like a good reason to do a good evaluation.
The car we have here is really the entry-level model; the most basic Air model, and like the GT Line, it gets 19-inch wheels, but with fewer toys, a less aggressive body kit and a few options cut from the color chart, it costs £40,945 down the road.
That still feels steep, but this is a big car, and one that’s very well equipped, even in this most accessible form – give a Ford Kuga with a petrol engine of a similar standard and the difference is only £5,000, and with much less room in the bargain, while a comparably equipped Toyota RAV4 hybrid is just £1,500 less.
Drive enough miles, and you’ll recoup most of that extra investment too – at 3.8 miles per kilowatt hour (mpkWh), the EV6 Air is quite efficient for an electric SUV of its size, and its 77.4 kWh battery makes it a very usable range of 328 miles (which in the real world should translate to somewhere between 230 and 270 miles depending on conditions and driving style). Even with today’s high energy prices, that still means an EV6 costs about half the fuel per kilometer than a competing petrol hybrid SUV, assuming you charge it at home.
Add to that the fact that the EV6 costs less to maintain than a petrol alternative, and that it comes with Kia’s standard seven-year 100,000-mile warranty, and it’s reasonable to assume that once you’ve covered the initial outlay ( or, more likely, your monthly payments), ongoing charges will be extremely low after that.
Oh, and it’s future-proof too, as Kia has made the EV6 compatible with the new generation of 800V fast chargers. They’re rare in the UK at the moment, but once they’re more widespread, you’ll be able to charge your EV6 from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes.
It also feels like the future inside. The design is urban, the materials of high quality, with slivers of real metal and some tastefully patterned plastics – a welcome alternative to the traditional ‘elephant skin’. At the leading edge of the high center console is a lovely gracefulness, a folded-over section that looks like a wing. And at night, you’re shrouded in strings of luminous ambient lighting.
On top of the dashboard are the now de rigeur double screens; both are large and clear and the touchscreen in the center of the dashboard is easy to operate. Below that is a smart panel that toggles between hotkeys for this and a full set of climate controls; these are touch sensitive, which is occasionally distracting, but luckily there’s a physical dial on each end that makes it easy to adjust the temperature without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
Room? Well, there’s enough of it. The large opening under the center console makes the front seats feel airy and there is a huge amount of storage space for belongings of all shapes and sizes. There is a lot of adjustment for the front seat and plenty of head, elbow and leg room.