Kia EV6 review

Kia EV6 review

We test the all-new Kia EV6 – an electric car that’s more than just eye candy

Kia has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to electrification – from the EV version of the quirky Soul in 2015 to the game-changing e-Niro of 2018, plus hybrids along the way.

Now the South Korean car company is on the money again with its EV6 – Kia first’s electric-only vehicle with a 300-mile plus range.

At launch the futuristic fastback is available as either a 321bhp four-wheel-drive (dual motor) or a more affordable 226bhp rear-drive (single motor). The usable battery capacity is 77.4kWh, regardless of which configuration you choose.

Kia EV6 review

The single motor has the greatest range (328 miles compared to 314 miles). The top speeds for both are 114mph, while the 0–60mph time for the four-wheel-drive version is 2.1 seconds faster at 5.2 seconds.

Charging from 10-80% takes as little as 18 minutes via 350kW ultra rapid charger (it’s future-proofed with 800-volt charging infrastructure). A more common 50kW charger will take one hour 13 minutes, or if you can plug-in at home (7kW) it will take seven hours 20 minutes.

Priced from £40,840 to £51,840, its rivals include everything from the Ford Mustang Mach-E to the Jaguar I-Pace, Polestar 2, Tesla Model 3, Volkswagen ID.4 and its cousin, the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Kia EV6 review

A smidgen smaller than an I-Pace, the boldly styled EV6 also shares the stubby nose, short overhangs, pop-out door handles and big wheels of the Jag.

Inside, it’s spacious and slick, with plenty of room for five adults. Our only gripes are that we’d like the driver’s seat to lower a little more and rear visibility could be better.

Elsewhere, there’s a generous 490 litres of space in the deep, but shallow boot, expanding to 1,300 litres with the rear seats folded.

Kia EV6 review

The EV6 also features extra storage at the front – a front boot, front trunk, or ‘frunk’ – providing an additional 52 litres of storage space for RWD models and 20 litres for AWDs – more than enough space for charging cables.

Inside the cabin it has a classy feel and it’s well put together, but there are more hard plastic surfaces than we would like.

On the plus side, it is trimmed in a range of sustainable materials, such as “vegan leather” seats, and sections of the dashboard and centre console are clad in recycled plastics, equivalent to 107 plastic 500ml water bottles per car.

Kia EV6 review

There’s a large, curved touchscreen on top of the dashboard, alongside a digital driver’s display. Both are 12.3-inches and feature Kia’s usual clear graphics. Generally, it looks state-of-the-art and delivers a good mix of dials, buttons and touchscreens.

Standard equipment with the entry-level EV6 includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, LED lights, heated front seats and steering wheel, sat-nav based smart cruise control and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Goodies further up the range includes wireless smartphone charging, privacy glass, blind-spot collision warning, a panoramic sunroof, remote smart park assist, a powered tailgate, a 14-speaker Meridian audio system and a head-up display.

Kia EV6 review

On the road the EV6 is comfortable, refined and turns heads for all the right reasons. There really is nothing like it on the market at present.

We tested both the single and dual motor versions and frankly there’s not much between them. If money is no object and the loss of 14 miles of range makes no difference, then go for the all-wheel drive version which is a tad faster and offers extra traction.

A button on the steering wheel allows you to choose between Sport, Eco and Normal drive modes. Normal is just fine and Sport is fun for overtaking, while Eco is strictly for Scrooges and motorway runs.

Kia EV6 review

The steering wheel paddles let you choose between six levels of regenerative braking, the last of which switches to “one-pedal” driving, which harvests maximum energy when you lift off the accelerator, bringing the car to a stop without touching the brakes.

The EV6 does a decent job of hiding its two-tonne weight, feeling agile and staying flat in faster corners. However, when really pushed the crossover origins it shares with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are more obvious. No doubt the upcoming GT version will unleash the EV6’s full dynamic potential.

Kia EV6 review

That said, the steering is light enough in town, yet adds weight at speed, while the brakes are more progressive than many an EV.

No car is perfect and the EV6 is no exception, but it’s still an impressive all-round package with a range far exceeding many premium rivals.

Verdict: The all-new, all-electric EV6 is another great value game-changer from Kia – a winning blend of style, performance, practicality, technology and long-range capability.

Kia Motors UK

Volvo C40 Recharge review

Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo is doing its bit to save the planet, and it has an ambitious plan for a zero emissions future.

By 2025, 50% of its global sales will consist of fully electric cars. By 2030, it aims to sell only EVs before turning “climate neutral” 10 years later.

The Swedish car maker’s latest model, the C40 Recharge, is a case in point. It’s electric-only (there will be no petrol or hybrid variants) and it’s manufactured using a variety of sustainable materials.

Volvo C40 Recharge

For instance, the carpets are made from 71 recycled plastic PET bottles, and thanks to renewable wool fibres, it’s the first Volvo to feature leather-free upholstery.

You could even say the car itself has something of a recycled feel to it because it shares its EV powertrain and much of its body with the XC40 – Volvo’s big-selling SUV.

Unlike its sibling, it’s sleeker with a lower roof line and steeply-raked rear window, while the front end introduces a new face for electric Volvos. Here, the signature Thor’s Hammer headlights are augmented with pixel technology designed to avoid dazzling other road users.

Volvo C40 Recharge

It’s also fitted with the latest version of Volvo’s infotainment system, jointly developed with Google and based on the Android operating system.

So now there’s access to Google Play apps and services like Google Assistant and Google Maps. It’s also capable of over-the-air updates, which means the car is constantly kept up to speed with the latest software.

The voice commands (prompted by “Hey Google”) usefully cut down on the swiping, pinching and scrolling otherwise needed to control the features within 9.0-inch central touchscreen.

Volvo C40 Recharge

C is for Crossover and Volvo claims the C40 Recharge provides buyers with the high seating position that its owners prefer. The reality is that there’s very little difference between the siblings apart from the design.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way because the pure electric XC40 Recharge is a fantastic package, offering the combination of style, practicality, performance and a decent range of up to 259 miles.

The C40’s lower roof line looks smarter and makes it more aerodynamic, resulting in a higher range of 273 miles.

It also differs from other models in the Volvo range because it can only be bought online and it’s also available with a ‘Care by Volvo’ package (monthly subscription from £729) which offers a warranty, servicing and roadside assistance, as well as insurance and home charging options where available.

Volvo C40 Recharge

At launch there’s just one version of the C40 Recharge available with an eye-watering ticket price of £57,400, though in time we can expect other more affordable specs.

Like the XC40 Recharge, the C40 has twin electric motors – one on the front and one on the rear axle – and is powered by a 78kWh battery that can be fast-charged from 10 to 80% in about 40 minutes (via a 150kW rapid charger).

Inside the factory

We were given a quick tour of Volvo’s impressive state-of-the-art plant at Ghent in Belgium, where the C40 is assembled on the same production line as the XC40 and V60 estate.

Volvo C40 Recharge production line in Ghent, Belgium

Volvo is increasing EV capacity at the facility to 135,000 cars per year, and already expects more than half of the plant’s production volume in 2022 to consist of fully electric cars.

On the road, the C40 offers the same combination of blistering performance and polished road manners as the XC40 Recharge.

Developing a combined 402hp, it can sprint from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds, which is almost supercar fast. Plant your right foot on an A road and before you know it, you’re travelling at the legal limit.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The ride is smooth and refined, the light steering is sharp and it handles well for a relatively heavy crossover.

There’s surprisingly good body control in faster, more challenging corners and plenty of traction thanks to all-wheel drive.

The brakes are progressive, which is relatively rare in EVs, and the regenerative braking system (which recovers kinetic energy otherwise lost during braking to recharge the battery) works well, especially in one-pedal mode where a simple lift off the accelerator is usually enough to slow the car down without using the brakes.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Ultimately, the C40 is a smoothie, at its best cruising. And as most EV drivers will tell you, the challenge of squeezing as much range as possible out of the battery is irresistible, so apart from the odd burst of instant-torque acceleration, it’s more about economical driving.

I have a few criticisms. I would have liked some drive modes (no Sport or Normal – just one-pedal or not). And even though the C40 Recharge ticks lots of eco-friendly boxes, the lack of leather and Scandi chic wood veneers made the interior less special to me.

The lower roofline also results in a slight headroom penalty for rear passengers six-foot or over, while the rear window itself is more post box than panoramic, so the view behind is on the challenging side.

Volvo C40 Recharge

The C40 has less boot space than the XC40 Recharge, but there’s still a useful 413 litres of luggage capacity (down from 452 litres), or a total of 1,205 litres if you flip the 60/40 split rear bench (1,328 litres). That said, rear passenger legroom is generous.

Up front there’s a 31-litre compartment under the bonnet – ideal for storing charging cables. There are also plenty of storage spaces scattered inside the cabin for phones, water bottles and other clutter.

Needless to say, like all Volvos, the C40 is packed with the latest safety and driver assistance tech as standard, including lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and a 360-degree parking camera which makes it easier to get in and out of tight spaces.

However, at this price the C40 is up against tough EV competition – everything from the Hyundai Kona Electric, Skoda Enyaq and Kia e-Niro up to the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Polestar 2, Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron and Mercedes EQA.

Verdict: The stylish new Volvo C40 Recharge is a class act, blending performance, practicality and refinement with a good EV range and extensive safety features. At launch, the sole top-of-the-range model is on the expensive side, but in time the C40 will become more attainable as other variants are offered.

Volvo Cars UK

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus UX 300e review

Lexus was a part-electrification pioneer when it launched the RX400h self-charging hybrid SUV way back in 2004.

However, it’s taken until now for the premium car maker to bring its first all-electric vehicle – the UX 300e – to market.

Consequently, it’s a little late to the party, joining the likes of the similarly sized Kia e-Niro, Hyundai Kona Electric and Peugeot e-2008, to name but a few.

Lexus UX 300e review

Starting at £41,745, the Lexus has an official range just shy of 200 miles (190-196 miles, depending on the wheel size) and looks much the same as its hybrid sibling (priced from £29,955).

“Compact, classy, comfortable and economical, it’s engaging to drive, distinctive and oozes badge appeal,” was our conclusion when we reviewed the regular UX (Urban Crossover) in 2019.

In fact, our only gripes were the CVT gearbox (short doses of uncomfortably high revs on hard acceleration) and the infotainment screen which is accessed via a fiddly touchpad down beside the gear selector.

Lexus UX 300e review

The infotainment system is much the same in the UX 300e, but going all electric means there’s no need for a CVT because it’s a one-speed like all EVs, so the new model is a smoother operator.

For now there’s just one power option and three trims levels. A 201bhp e-motor and 54.3kW battery pack combine to power the front wheels and it’s good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.5 seconds.

The UX 300e can be fully charged at home in just over eight hours or via a 50KW public charger (up to 80%) in as little as 50 minutes.

Lexus UX 300e review

Naturally, it’s also (modestly) charged on the move via regenerative braking (the levels are controlled via steering wheel paddle shifters) which converts much of the energy lost while decelerating back into stored energy in the car’s battery.

Talking of charge, we found the UX’s real world range to be closer to 170 miles, though this figure will always depend on driving style, terrain, whether you use items such as the heater and the outside temperature.

To look at, the sleek electric UX is definitely one of the most stylish compact SUVs available.

Lexus UX 300e review

In fact, it looks like no other car in its class with bold, sculpted lines, a full-width rear lightbar, roof spoiler and that unmistakable Lexus mesh front grille.

Slightly lower than most competitors and sporting a coupe-like profile, it’s full of innovative features including wheel arch mouldings which not only protect the bodywork, but also have a secondary aerodynamic function, just like the rear lights and the special alloy wheels.

Inside, it oozes class. There’s plenty of room up front, though it’s not as spacious in the rear as some rivals, no is there much space to stick your feet under the front seats, thanks to the batteries below.

Lexus UX 300e review

Luggage capacity is a useful 367 litres (more than the hybrid UX) expanding to 1,278 litres with the rear seats folded.

The cabin itself is stylish, beautifully finished and very Lexus with superb attention to detail. Up front it’s very driver-centric with the instrument panel, switchgear and infotainment screen subtly angled away from the passenger.

Despite its batteries, the UX 300e feels light on the road and even swifter than the official acceleration figures suggest. In fact, in the wet, the traction control system struggles to stop the front wheels spinning if you really go for it.

Lexus UX 300e review

There is a Sport mode, but the difference isn’t that dramatic, and while body control in faster corners is fairly good, the overwhelming sensation is one of comfort and refinement, which again, is very Lexus.

Like many electric cars, the brakes aren’t massively responsive, though the steering is light, making it easy to drive around town.

The 300e is packed with safety and driver assistance systems, and when the hybrid UX was tested by Euro NCAP in 2019 it achieved a maximum score of five stars.

Lexus UX 300e review

And for extra peace of mind, it comes with the standard Lexus three-year/60,000 mile manufacturer warranty for the car, plus an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

Perhaps the 300e’s biggest challenge is its price point and range. For instance, it costs significantly more than the e-Niro and Kona Electric (which both have a range closer to 300 miles) and is even nudging the bigger Ford Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model 3.

Verdict: Refined, comfortable and offering a premium experience, the all-electric Lexus UX 300e is a class act. With a range best suited to urban ownership, it’s easy to drive and stands out from the crowd, but it’s also up against some serious competition.