Test-Driving the All-New Kia EV6, the Way My Boss (Presumably) Would
I've always been skeptical about electric vehicles, but for Kia Philippines' EV6, I can make an exception. The arrival of the EV6 marks a turning point for the brand and its local market, as Kia goes all in on the inevitable EV revolution. This is its first electric model in the Philippines, and the GT-Line Long Range certainly doesn't want to disappoint.
It had already been previewed at last year's Philippine International Motor Show and got quite the buzz around the local motoring world. Reps from Kia tell me that these bad boys are meant for the common chief executive officer (CEO), which is why they gave me a simulation of a CEO's day for my test-drive. I had two places I had to go to that day: a luncheon at Ilustrado in Intramuros, Manila, an appointment at the University of the Philippines-Diliman in Quezon City, and an ITZY press conference at Greenbelt 3 in Makati. A real pleasant day for a spin. I don't know much about CEO schedules, but suffice to say, I do know that their regular day can look much busier than mine.
Well, by the looks of this futuristic crossover of sorts, I can definitely see why the boy and girlbosses of tomorrow would love it. You get the stamina and acceleration of a sportscar; the sleekness and build of a luxury sedan; and the wiggle room of an SUV, all rolled into one. It even looks like an Audi R8 on steroids to me, with its front-end (how the curves of its build give way to the grille). The rear-end, on the other hand, has that premium crossover feel. Meanwhile, the large 20-inch, rubber-wrapped wheels are a beauty. This is one sexy-ass car.
Looking at it, what stands out is its girth. It's as wide as some SUVs, sporting a length of 4695mm, width of 1890mm, and a wheelbase of 2900mm. This lends to a generous cabin (which I'll get to in a second).
Mother of god, the legroom is just something else. I had to adjust my seat because I felt too short to reach the pedals. We get vegan leathers seats with wide center armrests for both the front and rear seating.
There are two 12.3 inch displays inside the vehicle. One is for the digital instrument cluster while the other is for the touchscreen infotainment system. The latter comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well. Here, we get to see a hell of a control system. There's the battery usage, range, and information, as well as the advanced driver assist systems and safety features like the adaptive cruise control. Oh, the 14-speaker Meridian sound system is a nice touch, too.
Side note: The seat-warming function and sunroof were nice touches. Wow, we got a California boy over here.
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Performance and (dun.. dun... dun) Charging
Okay, so after having breakfast at Seda (which I admittedly was late for—certainly not CEO behavior now... or is it? I hope I got the benefit of the doubt), I drove around Makati and Taft Avenue first before heading to Intramuros for lunch. Not that a CEO just goes around driving aimlessly or anything. It's a test-drive, after all.
After muching down on paella and some tapas (not that it matters, but that was a fine meal; I imagine bosses eat like this everyday), I head to Quezon City, cutting through España, then Quezon Avenue. The Kia EV6 puts a premium on the drive and I would come to learn why. For starters, I think this is the smoothest I've ever driven just because of how silent things got, thanks to that 77.4-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. I arrive at UP and park.
All that space. All that silence. All those unwanted looks from MMDA officers and bystanders (this ain't mine!). Christ, I almost felt bad decompressing inside because my intrusive thoughts were getting the best of me. What do CEOs think when they're by their lonesome? Business things, like, numbers? People management things? Quotable motivation lines for townhalls? Then again, I thought to myself: hey, I'm a pretend-CEO today. Hence, I should indulge in this pretend-busyness. So I imagined myself stressing about some imaginary board meeting and how I was prepping by playing some music that screamed suffering from success (it was DJ Khaled).
Anyway yeah, handling. It offers drivers sharp steering, nice handling, and packs quite the punch (you can literally go zero to 60 mph in more or less 30 seconds, or zero to 100 mph in six to eight seconds). Drivers can choose from Eco, Normal, or Sport for our driving mood (or vibe) for the day. You also get 229-PS and 350-Nm of torque as soon as you press the pedal. In Diliman, I was cruising around the campus with pleasure.
Next stop was ITZY. I get there and, as much as I wanted to, I couldn't even see Ryujin. The Greenbelt crowd was nuts. I bet CEOs get cancelled meetings left and right anyway. I would return to Seda to charge and give the keys back. That was that. The CEO in me was done.
Charging stations, understandably, is an issue with EV skeptics. But today, this isn't as big a deal as it once was. We're in different times now. The Kia EV6 can go more than 500 kilometers when fully charged. My test-drive left me with 420 kilometers to spare after going from Taguig to Manila to Quezon City then to Makati and Taguig again. It should only take more or less an hour to get from 10 to 75 (on a fast-charging system of 50 kW), which isn't bad. With a 350 kW system, you can go from 10 to 80 percent in practically a hair under 20 minutes. Hell, I've had lines at mainstream coffee shop X on a busy noon in Salcedo that take longer.
Debunking EV Anxieties
I think every electric carmaker hears about the unflattering chatter about its products. There isn't enough charging stations, the murmurs will say. Even if there was one near, it would take too long and get in the way of your busy schedule. Replacing batteries can be a drag, as well. You're not getting as far as you could if you go with a gas-powered one. But we're in the middle of the EV revolution now, and these criticisms just don't apply anymore. Sooner or later, every brand is going to play along.
The EV industry isn't what it was 10 years ago. The infrastructure has gotten infinitely better over time. In the Philippines, we have charging stations along national expressways like NLEX, at establishments like SM and Ayala Malls. Shell, Solarius, and UniOil also offer charging stations. On top of these, some hotels, like Seda in Taguig have one, as well. We can even have one built into our homes for an extra fee.
Buyers also benefit from the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act, which lapsed into law last year. It's means to exempt EVs from the Unified Vehicular Volume Reduction Program (aka the number coding scheme) and aims to reduce tariffs on EVs, paving the way for a wider acceptance of these babies in the market. After all, why should an EV owner be penalized for helping cut greenhouse gas emissions?
In fact, about 16 EV models have already been introduced to the country as of 2022, like the Nissan Leaf, Porsche Taycan, BYD S1 EV, and BMW iX3, among others. There are about 9,000 registered EVs in the Philippines right now. The Department of Energy's ultimate goal is for Filipino car owners to go electric by the year 2040.
Kia Philippines' EV6 is the latest to join the fray. And what sets it apart is its competitive price point: P4 million. Not bad for an electric vehicle of this caliber. We shouldn't be all that surprised to see the EV6 in a company parking near us very soon.
The Kia EV6 GT Line Long Range is set to be launched on March 21, 2023.