The Kia EV6 is the first car from the Korean automaker to be built on a dedicated electric vehicle platform. Here’s what I thought about the EV6 and the E-GMP bones that underpin it — bones that will act as the foundation of millions of Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis cars in the future.
A few weeks ago, I attended the German Car of the Year assessment near Frankfurt, Germany. This was basically an event put on by journalists — in cooperation with automakers — to give writers a chance to drive and grade an assortment of over 40 cars.
I’ve already mentioned the GR Yaris and Toyota Supra that I drove at the event. Those were epic, though it was the EV6 that I had a hard time booking an appointment for, as Kia was giving journalists an exclusive opportunity to drive the preproduction vehicle. (There are few things that make a journalist’s mouth water as much as an exclusive).
Introducing the platform was automotive design legend Luc Donckerwolke, the now-Genesis designer who had a hand in styling some famous Lamborghinis and more importantly the incredible aluminum-bodied Audi A2.
Kia’s platform is called E-GMP, and it stands for Electric-Global Modular Platform. It’s a big deal because it’s going to underpin many EV Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis cars moving forward. Kia discusses the platform’s flexibility in a press release, saying:
EV6 signals the U.S. launch of Kia’s ‘Plan S’ strategy that will deliver 11 all-new electrified models across the world by 2026.
The E-GMP modular platform maximizes development efficiency and enables the Kia brand to expand its dedicated EV portfolio across multiple vehicle segments – sedans, CUVs, SUVs – in a short time and with minimal complexity. The architecture provides an adaptable foundation with a long wheelbase and wide stance.
It’s not always clear what it means when automakers say vehicles will share a single platform, but you can expect all E-GMP vehicles to share common battery modules, common suspension designs/subframes/mounting points (which means similar track widths), and common drive units and power electronics.
Suspension is a MacPherson strut setup in the front (shown above) and a multilink in the rear (shown below — apologies for the not-so-optimal images):
The big battery pack in between comes filled with 77.4kWh or 58kWh worth of Nickel-Cobalt-Manganese (in ratios of 80 percent, 10 percent, 10 percent, respectively) pouch cells:
Battery voltage is 800V, just like on the Porsche Taycan. Kia says this high voltage potential should enable a charging times of only 18 minutes from 10 percent to 80 percent when using a 350 kW fast charger. Adding 70 miles to an “empty” car should take only five minutes (I’m assuming these numbers apply to the larger 77.4 kWh pack, which Kia says should offer up to 300 miles of range). For reference, the Porsche Taycan can allegedly charge its 93.4kWh battery from 5 percent to 80 percent as quickly as 22.5 minutes, and can add 62 miles to a depleted battery in under six minutes.
The way the platform is set up is fairly conventional when compared to other EVs, and in some ways, could allow for a similar assembly strategy (called “decking”) as transverse-engine ICE vehicles. The entire powertrain/drivetrain, as well as all associated electronics (power electronics, inverter) and accessories are bolted to the body as part of the front subframe, which contains the suspension. (Note: The model shown is all-wheel drive. Some EV6s will be rear-wheel drive).
I plan to write an in-depth technical deep-dive later, so I won’t get into too much detail here. But the middle image above shows a stack heat exchanger (which I’m assuming is a refrigerant-to-antifreeze “chiller”) with a hose going to the motor, and you can see ports for cooling power electronics. The gearbox is a parallel setup, meaning the output shaft is parallel to the motor’s rotor axis (in this case, the output is behind the motor). Some automakers, like Ford, use a coaxial arrangement (i.e. planetary gears allow the axle to be on the same axis as the motor’s rotor).
You’ll also notice the high-voltage AC compressor bolted to that stack of motor/gearbox/power electronics/inverter.
Things are oriented a bit differently in the rear, as the inverter and many of the power electronics are located ahead of the drive unit, not on top of it. I’m assuming Kia did this to allow for a spacious cargo area with a low load floor. In addition, the motor sits aft of the rear axle (i.e. the gearbox output is ahead of the motor’s rotor axis).
The Kia EV6 is an odd looking car, but I think that’s good. This is an important vehicle for the Korean brand, and as I don’t expect it to be cheap (Car and Driver predicts a $45,000 starting price; Kia has its First Edition priced at $58,500), it should find a way to stand out among other crossovers. I think it manages that nicely, with aggressive turn signal lamps that run underneath and along the outside front edges of the hood, a strip of white daytime running lights just below, and dual projector-beam headlights in between.
The upper grille is thin and features a small camera at its center, while the lower opening (which features active grille shutters to aid with aerodynamics) is massive and appears to house the adaptive cruise control radar. The outboard “grilles” give the car a mean look, though they aren’t functional (they’re blocked off with plastic).
The side profile shows a short, bulging hood reaching back to a steeply-raked windshield, a mostly flat roof, and then a spoiler at the top of a hatch that slopes all the way to the rear light, which runs cross-car along a sharp lip. It’s almost like a whale tail; check it out:
The taillights are just cool, as is the big heckblende running along the liftgate’s sharp lip. The turn signals flow from the outside edge of the taillamps down to a horizontal plane atop the rear bumper, and what I assume is the reverse light consists of five LEDs integrated into a grille in the lower rear fascia.
The wheels are enormous 20-inchers, with 29-inch tires wrapped around them; that’s the same size rubber as one might find in a 1990s Ford F-150 4x4!
If you look closely at the passenger side, you can see — just between the taillamp and turn signal — a seam. That’s actually the charge port door! Also worth mentioning are the cool “wingtip”-style mirrors, and the flush door handles that present themselves when the driver unlocks the car:
The interior is cool. There’s a wide screen on the dash, which itself is adorned with stylish gray and white lines that continue on the center console lid.
The shifter is a rotary dial with “park” at its vertex and “R, N and D” positioned just outside its circumference. A power button sits slightly elevated ahead of the shifter, while a wireless charging pad is located behind.
Below that long center console is another “deck” of storage that would be an ideal spot for a purse.
There are two 12-volt power outlets on that lower deck, and a USB and USB-C just ahead below the center stack:
The black and white suede seats with white stitching are fun, and I even don’t mind the two-spoke steering wheel (I’m generally not a huge fan of two-spoke wheels).
The rear passenger area is roomy, and features a completely flat floor, as one would expect from an EV. In the image below, you’ll see a USB-C port on the back of each front seat — I saw this on a Kia Carnival rental car I recently rode in, so it seems to be a thing Kia is doing. I can dig it.
Cargo space is good. The floor is flat thanks to the rear drive unit’s/power electronics’ more horizontal orientation:
Under the hood, there’s a bit more storage in a bin, though those of you hoping for a full-size frunk will be disappointed:
The Kia EV6 is an EV, so certain things like power delivery and sound are quite similar to any other EV you’ve ever driven. I will note that, in the video toward the top of this article, you can hear a synthesized sound coming from speakers; I actually didn’t notice this during my ~20 minutes of driving, or at least I didn’t register it for some reason.
The EV6's ride quality is a bit on the stiffer side, though not harsh. Power from the 74kW (99 HP) front motor and 165kW (221 HP) rear motor totals 320 horsepower altogether, and though the car weighs around 4,500 pounds, Kia says zero to 60 mph happens in 5.1 seconds. That’s reasonably quick, though in an EV without sound or shifts, that sprint is a gradual affair and not something that will blow you away (a 576 horsepower Kia EV6 GT model is on the horizon).
The cameras at the mirror “wing-tips” were great, as they provided me a glimpse of the blind spot after I pressed the blinker stalk (see the round image on the screen above). Speaking of visibility, the view over the short hood was great, and rear visibility wasn’t horrible, which is something that isn’t always a given on a modern car.
You’ll also notice paddle shifter behind the steering wheel; while normally used to change gears on a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, Kia chose to use the paddles to adjust how much the regenerative brakes slow the vehicle down. It’s a great application of a part that’s already heavily used in the industry.
I won’t delve too deeply into handling since I wasn’t at a track, and even if I were, I’m not qualified to assess things like “steering feel” and “chassis balance” in detail. I’m no race car driver, I’m just a dude. But I can say that the car did tend to err towards understeer when I threw it into turns a bit more quickly than it wanted. I don’t know what would have happened had I powered through, but I wasn’t about to try it on public roads.
Even if it’s clearly not a sports car, I had a good time zipping the EV6 around those twisty streets in the countryside north of Frankfurt, though to me, what makes the car special isn’t its handling or its power, it’s its design. The outside is quirky and fun, and the cabin is just a cool place to spend time. It’s not over the top, but it’s just weird enough, which is important for any crossover EV hoping to stand out a bit among its competitors.
Update Sept 2, 2021 1:20 A.M. ET: I changed the headline from “...The First Electric Car Built On Kia’s ‘Revolutionary’ E-GMP Platform” to “...The First Electric Kia Built On The ‘Revolutionary’ E-GMP Platform” since the Hyundai Ioniq 5 also shares the platform.