First Drive | 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line | Post Modern Philosophy

First Drive | 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line | Post Modern Philosophy

Back in the early days of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, horses were the primary forms of transportation. From fancy, multi-horse carriages, magical pumpkins or even traveling bare-backed, if one needed to get from point A to point B the mighty and noble steed did the job. Those days are long gone and equinely ways of getting to and fro have since been replaced by faster, more efficient, and much more luxurious motor cars.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Can the Kia EV6 wade through floods?

    The Kia EV6 has a 6-inch ground clearance, with an IP66 dust and waterproof rating it can wade through floods no higher than 6 inches, although this is highly unadvisable for any vehicle.
  • What is the range of the Kia EV6?

    Based on EPA testing, the Kia EV6 can go as far as 528 km
  • 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Parked

    Fast forward to more than 100 years later, and with excellent mobility comes a great cost. Gasoline (or diesel for argument’s sake), the primary source of fuel that powers our cars, has become increasingly expensive due to many factors such as scarcity, and geopolitical events, not to mention has caused a great deal of stress in global climate change. Blaming everything on vehicle emissions is of course short-sighted, the fact of the matter is that the cost of running our cars has become too damn high.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear2 on the Road

    Enter Electric Vehicles. No longer the pariahs and laughing stock that they were in the 90s, created by car companies to comply with Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standards, what was once an afterthought, is now the next best buzzword since the internet and the dot-com era. What’s special about the car we were given the honor of driving today is that it was built from the ground up and not just an electric motor slapped into an existing platform. Allow me to lead us out of the dark cave and into the light with the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line.

    Design

    There’s no denying that the 2023 Kia EV6 is certainly different, an oddity, even. Unlike its Hyundai Ioniq 5 cousin, it refuses to harken back to a past long gone. Instead of adopting retro-futuristic styling, it adapts to current design languages and looks to the future, Tesla certainly does not have a monopoly on neo-modern aesthetics. The designers have certainly gone mad with power knowing that they are not bound by any existing platforms to work around with and let their CAD pens do the talking. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear Quarter

    The GT-Line suffix at the end of the model name signifies that this is no regular EV6. It has additional body kits from the monstrous EV6 GT that adds more pizzazz to the whole form. From the angular headlamps up-front that house a mesmerizing array of LED strips that flank the “Digital Tiger Nose Face” design to the sweeping character lines on the hood that bulge all the way to form the muscular front fenders. The 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line is being marketed as a crossover, and with about 160mm of ground clearance, it certainly makes its case. The massive 20-inch turbine-like 2-tone alloy wheels add a sense of grandeur and sportiness yet the low height doesn’t give it a “traditional” crossover feel. The floating roofline with the blacked-out window pillars gives it an almost coupe look despite its crossover aspirations. Peeking under the hood reveals a small frunk that can fit small tools and the occasional handbag. It’s not much but at least it’s there. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Front Profile

    The pop-out doors, which seem to be the current trend in EV design, give the side profile an uber-sleek profile. The Moonscape color option on our test model fits the look and further accentuates the stealth fighter cosplay the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line seems to be mimicking, ditto with the rear fender panels that mirror the front amplifying the sporty look. The rear end is where it’s at, though. The signature taillamp cluster runs across the entire rear section, creating a slight bow terminating all the way to the quarter half of the rear fenders. The red reflector strip might just be the most ingenious part as some countries require side reflectors that often than not ruin the whole design. Kia’s designers integrated it into the signature taillamp creating one unbroken line of LED goodness. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Tail Lamp

    Murphy’s law is a real bane to designers, there are just too many design elements that could have ruined the aesthetic of a single cohesive design. In the case of the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line, it toed the line between neo-modern coolness and Jackson Pollock weird. Thankfully the former seems to be the case in this beauty.

    Interior 

    The biggest fear I had with driving an EV, in this case, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line, it’s that the interior would be so over the top. Understand that I am still looking at this from an Internal Combustion Engine owner’s standpoint because, from the looks of the EV6 from the outside, I dread that the seats would be uncomfortable, the floor like the waves in La Union, and headroom fit for a Liliputian executive. I was never more glad to be wrong. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Front Seats

    As earlier mentioned, the 2023 Kia EV6 was built from the ground, up. There are no existing ICE platforms that Kia simply took out of the parts bin and slapped an electric motor to it. The E-GMP platform starts with almost a skateboard-like concept: a flat platform, and then build up from there. Because of the lack of undercarriage mechanicals such as a drive-shaft, transmission tunnels, and other brick-a-brack, designing a spacious interior that puts even midsized SUVs to shame from a lower-than-usual riding crossover was very possible. Space isn’t just a destination that astronauts aim to visit, it also comes in spades inside the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear floor space

    The driver and front passenger will enjoy a cockpit-like feel up front, thanks to the floating center console that has the drive dial, cup holders, a 15W fast wireless charging pad for quicker top-ups, and the electronic start button that faces the driver. The ergonomics are great as well with power seats with floating headrests and a fully adjustable steering wheel. The premium vegan leather that envelops the interior really shines and promises the same leather look without the social guilt of using a ton of cows for your car. Rear passengers can enjoy a completely flat floor layout as the bottom of the chassis is free from various moving parts often found in regular cars. The seats seem to be set a bit low to the ground though as feet room might use some improvement. The reason why the floor is raised up is that the batteries are laid out flat at the base of the vehicles, this not only allows a completely open space in the cabin to work with but also helps with driving dynamics, more on that later. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Control Panel

    Up front, the biggest draw for technophiles is the massive 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. It’s not going to be the wireless kind but at least the tunes get blasted to a total of 14 Meridian Surround Sound speaker systems. Right next to the infotainment screen is the equally large 12.3-inch multi-information display that acts as the digital gauge cluster and offers much more bits of information for the driver. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear Seats-2

    My biggest concern with the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line’s interior, however, is the audio controls and AC controls. Many have pointed out the seemingly convoluted way it words for simplicity’s sake. Situated at the bottom of the dashboard, the capacitive buttons serve a dual purpose, controlling the AC and media. A slight touch of a button completely changes the functions of the layout of the touch bar, for either need, much like the touch bar of an Apple Macbook Pro. I noticed this at first but once I got used to it, it wasn’t a problem at all, technically you do need to be at a complete stop before operating any buttons, but that notion aside, it wasn’t the dealbreaker everyone was hyping it up to be.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear Seats

    Overall the interior of the 2023 Kia EV6 is both functional and futuristic without being overly complicated. Many electric vehicles these days seem to embrace the idea that since these are next-generation vehicles they have the liberty to be “weird for the sake of being weird”. That is not the case with the EV6 as it is still modern, practical, and most importantly functional.

    Drive and Performance 

    The 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line comes with a single, Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM) that churns out 225 hp and 350 Nm of torque. The 0-100 km/h time comes in at about 7 seconds making it on par with many sports-oriented sedans and crossovers in the market today, but that’s where the comparisons end. Since the electric motor doesn’t rely on engine speed or RPM or has any powerband ratings to speak of, power comes almost instantaneously. Hit the pedal and it pushes forward with aplomb that it can get disorienting at times. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Front on the Road

    There are a few driving modes to consider. The 2023 Kia EV6 can be set for either Normal, Eco, or Sport. Each of these modes adjusts the steering and acceleration characteristics of the vehicle giving the driver a customized experience when driving the car. Another driving mode worth mentioning is Active Sound Design. Since EVs do not create engine noise, this feature simulates and pumps in sounds that rely on the car’s speed. Drivers can choose from a calming, electronic drone, futuristic to a dynamic aural experience. It won’t help the car run faster, but like I always say: what you feel about the drive is 50% of the performance of the vehicle. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear on the Road

    There has been some concern about the overall weight of the vehicle, at about 2,425 kg it’s no IG model. The bulk of that weight has to do with the array of batteries required to move the vehicle. The heavier the batteries, the more rugged and bigger the brakes have to be, and the bushings and suspension parts have to be able to carry the extra weight as well. It certainly doesn’t drive like a 2-and-a-half ton vehicle though. Most of the weight is situated and evenly distributed to the lower part of the vehicle, the weight distribution counteracts the effects that the weight has on handling and performance. This is another EV myth that Kia was able to wipe away thanks to this modern architecture.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Front 2 on the Road

    The steering was direct and the body roll was kept at a minimum despite the increased ride height. Kia’s choice to keep the EV6 as short as possible vertically and the placement of the heavy battery packs below the floor has allowed a much lower center of gravity, especially when compared with other crossovers. The Macpherson struts up front and a multi-link suspension in the rear 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear2 on the Road

    The brakes are very responsive as well. I’ve tested a few EVs and a characteristic that seems to be present in many of them is a spongy brake pedal feel which can ruin the entire driving experience. The 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line takes that to the trash with a more refined and solid braking feel. Speaking of braking, the EV6 also has multiple levels of regenerative braking. This regenerative braking system not only allows the possibility of single-pedal driving by applying the brakes once you let go of the accelerator pedal but also helps with recharging the EV6’s batteries thanks to the magic of regenerative braking. Regenerative braking uses the energy generated from applying brakes and converting it to kinetic energy to charge the battery. This was particularly useful during leisurely city drives and helped with recharging the battery as much as it can.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Headlamp-2

    Wading depth is one of the most common concerns in EVs. In regards to the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line, it has a maximum ground clearance of 160mm, a statistic that is much higher than any sedan or hatchback and is much closer to crossover SUVs. The battery housing has an IP66 dust and waterproof rating which means that it can withstand 100 liters per minute of water volume with a pressure of 14.5 psi at a distance of 3m for at least 3 minutes and is completely dust resistant. Imagine taking a strong hose and blasting the battery with water for a few minutes, you can rest assured that it can take that much abuse. Like EVERY other car, it is not meant to be submerged in water. 6 inches of flooding can be traversed for a short period of time, but taking this and fording through floods will be a bad idea, just like every vehicle. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Rear Quarter-3

    Overall the drive felt familiar yet novel at the same time. Many customers’ fears lie in the idea that modern cars and EVs require a steep learning curve to master and drive. In the case of the Kia EV6, however, being a legitimate car company with years of experience, the driving and ownership experience is still on the top of their minds. 

    Range and Charging

    As tested by the EPA, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line has a range of 528 km from the 77.4 kWh battery. Kia prescribes multiple ways to charge the vehicle, first is through normal AC charging at 11kW using a home charger, it takes 7 hours and 20 minutes to charge from 10% to 100%. There are also DC fast charging alternatives located in various public locations such as malls, hotels, offices, and others. A 50kWh fast charging station can fill it from 10% to 80%in just 73 minutes while the even faster 350kWh option can do it in just 18 minutes. The charging protocol uses the more common and widely available Type 2 AC charger and CCS2 DC ports. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Charging port

    During my first drive, I tried my best to be as “inefficient” as possible. Activating sports mode at all times, forgetting every Fuel Economy tips I’ve learned, and traveling more or less 80 km in a traffic-riddled Metro Manila for an entire day as well as forgetting to turn the vehicle off during video and photo shoots. I brought the vehicle back at the end of the day with more or less 80% left in the battery! This means that even on a very busy, stressful, and long day, I barely made a dent in the fuel mileage, and I still have more juice to repeat the type of day I had for an entire work week! This was nothing short of phenomenal for me, this means I can simply connect the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line to my theoretical home charger at night and see the battery at 100%. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Steering Wheel

    Range anxiety, especially in the Philippines is the biggest concern, especially for early adopters. While it is a valid concern among potential owners, the Philippines is becoming a major market for EV charging stations. The Ayala Corporation has 21 fast charging stations across Luzon, and that doesn’t include other third-party providers. Installing a charger at home is also easy as the technology is now becoming more widely available. The bottom line is that thanks to modern battery technology, I can say with full confidence that I can see myself owning an EV without fear of Range anxiety.

    Safety Features

    The 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line is packed with modern and advanced safety features. Technologies such as  Auto Emergency Braking Technology, Blind Spot Detection Technology, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, Lane Keeping & Following Assist Technology, Smart Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go, Highway Driving Assist, Safe Exit Assist, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, and a 360 Surround View Camera make it one of the safest vehicles on the market today.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Headlamp

    Apart from the standard and tangible safety features, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line uses Lithium-Ion batteries that are less susceptible to overheating and have a longer battery life. I’ve also mentioned that it has an IP66 dust and water-resistant rating, and is also equipped with a water-sensing system that automatically shuts off the EV system in the event that water exposure is beyond safety standards. It also has special sensors to monitor the battery system. The BMS (Battery Management System) allows the power system shut to off upon vehicle collision. 

    Pricing and Conclusion

    As of writing, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line has yet to receive official pricing. The executives at Kia were quick to mention that the price will certainly be below Php 4 million which considering the technology involved in this next-generation vehicle, is quite a value. Speaking of value, if you consider purchasing the EV6, the PMS savings as well as the cost of running the vehicle certainly will attract budget-friendly buyers. 

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Quarter Profile

    In a span of 5 years, using the 2023 Kia Sorento as a baseline, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line will require about Php 25,000 worth of standard maintenance. This includes brake pads, brake fluid, AC filter, and wiper blades. The Mid-Sized SUV counterpart will fare worse in that regard as it requires even more maintenance and can reach a total of Php 110,000 over the same time span. Not to mention the savings at the pump or to run the vehicle. At current electricity prices, traveling 500km would net about Php 800 worth while the mid-sized SUV needs Php 2,400 worth of fuel. That amounts to about Php 32,000 worth of savings in a year if the standard mileage is about 10,000km per year. With the passing of Executive Order no. 12 this year, potential savings can increase even further.

    2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line Hero ilustrado

    At the moment, rivals that intend to go head to head with the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line are few and these include the BMW iX3 M Sport, BYD Atto 3, Hyundai Ioniq 5, and Weltmeister W5 EV. 

    We live in an age where electrified mobility is more than just a concept. No longer are EVs relegated to afterthoughts to comply with CAFE regulations and standards. While the Kia 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line is one of the first EVs to be mass marketed in the Philippines, it certainly doesn’t feel like a first-generation product, where all kinks have yet to be ironed out yet. It feels like a complete package, vehicle owners can simply get into, start and go. Can the EV6 start a revolution of full EVs in the market? After my first drive, I sure hope so. 

    Photos by: Roy Robles

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