It’s a brave time to be alive, when you can buy a rear-wheel drive Kia SUV, powered exclusively by batteries. While most electric cars roam in the six-figure realm, the 2022 Kia EV6 Air undercuts its rivals significantly at $67,990 before on-road costs.
Despite that still being beyond the reach of the average family, it’s a step towards less expensive electric cars. With a lengthy waiting list though, questions about it being worth the wait will surely be raised.
First impressions of the entry-grade EV6 Air are positive though. It’s a striking vehicle in the flesh, with a handsome face, 19-inch alloy wheels, and a spaceship-esque lightbar at the rear.
The seven-colour paint palette is appreciable too, with our vehicle being finished in the stunning Runway Red. Although Kia market it as an “electric crossover SUV”, we argue it looks more like a rugged wagon – giving off Audi A4 Allroad vibes.
We only wish Kia offered a sleeker, all-electric sedan to cater for buyers uninterested in a tall ride height. The futurism flows into the cabin too, with a minimalist layout, excellent all-round visibility, and eco-friendly materials.
There are a few scratchy plastics throughout the interior, but most surfaces you interact with are soft to the touch. If you’re after something a little more upmarket, the GT-Line offers artificial suede/vegan leather seats, a sunroof, and 64-colour ambient lighting.
The better version also comes with a banging 14-speaker Meridian sound system for your tunes. We reckon the Air’s 6-speaker stereo should satisfy most buyers though.
Like other manufacturers, Kia have borrowed a page from the previous Mercedes-Benz S-Class with a dual 12.3-inch screen setup. Both the driver and infotainment screens are crystal clear and effortless to operate on the move, which is not often the case.
Unfortunately, although wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range, wireless variants are not available. Likewise, the touchscreen climate controls may not be as slick as physical buttons, but they are reasonably intuitive.
That same panel can also be toggled to display shortcut buttons for the infotainment, which is a clever way of keeping the cabin decluttered. What’s not so nifty is the circular gear selector, which is awkwardly placed where an infotainment swivel wheel should be.
Our second complaint has to do with the lack of powered seats at this price point. Yes, it’s a first world problem, but it’s inexcusable for a visionary vehicle that offers virtually everything else.
The EV6 is a winner when it comes to backseat ergonomics though, boasting plenty of headroom and legroom for tall folks over 190cm. Meanwhile, parents will appreciate the three top tether anchors and two ISOFIX positions.
And, if your little rascal is the adventurous type, the 490-litre boot will expand to a generous 1270-litres with the rear seats stowed. With no engine upfront, the ‘frunk’ also offers an additional 52-litres in storage.
The Air is also equipped with almost every driver aid known to mankind. This includes but is not limited to autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert, blind spot collision warning and safe exit warning.
If you want extra goodies, such as the 3D surround view monitor, blind spot view monitor, and autonomous parking, you will need to step up to the GT-Line.
At this point, you’re expecting the Air to drive like the two-tonne slab of batteries it is. Hell, the 77.4kWh battery pack weighs almost half a tonne. However, as cliché as it sounds; the drive greatly exceeded our expectations.
With a low centre of gravity and power sent exclusively to the rear wheels, the Air feels, well airy. It’s obviously no Stinger, but it’s nimble enough to hug the exit ramp and flick its tail in the wet.
Swirling out of the rear motor is a silky smooth 168kW of power and 350Nm of torque, allowing the Air to hit 100km/h in a claimed 7.3 seconds.
From the instant torque of the electric motor to the sharpened pedal response in Sports mode, we found no reason to dispute that figure. Also, do not be seduced by the eyewatering 5.2-second 0-100km/h time of the all-wheel drive (AWD) GT-Line.
According to Kia, the entry-level model has the furthest range of the EV6 family at 528km. Meanwhile, the GT-Line RWD and AWD achieve a lower 504km and 484km respectively. Of course, those are still reasonable figures in the EV world.
From flat, the 77.4kWh battery will be fully recharged in 7 hours 20 minutes using an 11kW charger. If you don’t want to recharge overnight, the EV6 supports 50kW and 350kW DC fast chargers to slash that time drastically.
From 10 per cent to 80 per cent charge, these chargers require approximately 73 and 18 minutes respectively. All in all, thanks to the sheer efficiency of the EV6, we never experienced ‘range anxiety’.
Even though the price tag is fair for an all-electric family SUV, it’s worth noting a range-topping Kia Sorento GT-Line (in its petrol form) is a smudge less at $65,070, and it comes with just about every luxury amenity under the sun.
Regardless of choice, Kia’s 7-year, unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing are what will win the hearts of many buyers. So, is the 2022 Kia EV6 Air the affordable electric car that young families have been waiting for?
Not quite, but it’s a progressive step in the right direction. From the Star Trek exterior to the tranquil drive and good range, the Air is a no brainer if you’re in the market for an electric car.
Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Kia EV6 Air, contact your local Kia dealer.