Lucire: Mix genres
LIFE Jack Jan wonders why Lucire has named the Kia EV6 the winner of its latest Car to Be See
You see automakers go through phases where they don’t seem to be doing anything wrong. Fiat always presented a winner when it came to design in the mid-1990s, but struggled for years with variant after variant on outdated Punto parts; Ford was on a good track for years with some inspired drivers before withdrawing segment after segment, especially in places like Brazil where it was once so strong. Volkswagen was one of the most copied automakers when it indulged in Bauhaus curves with the Passat V, Audi TT and New Beetle. And right now Hyundai and Kia are in the zone, daring to create shapes like the Ioniq 5 (a sizable electric car that looked deceptively compact in photos) and its E-GMP platform twin, the EV6.
The Ioniq 5, as impressive as it is technically, with 800V fast charging and up to 300 miles of range, has an angular shape with clean details and screams how high-tech it is like a modern phone or laptop. There’s no denying it has presence, and the design is fully in line with Hyundai’s claims of its dedicated EV designed from the ground up. But there’s a feeling that the two-box wedge shape harks back to earlier times; Commentators have compared it to the Volkswagen Golf I and even the 1975 British Leyland 18-22 series, which was only built for half a year before being renamed the Princess. In a world of inefficient shapes (where 46 percent of European buyers have opted for SUVs and crossovers, where rising gas prices are obviously of secondary importance), is the two-box EV the best shape the Ioniq 5 could have been? Is it, as we like to ask in this magazine, consistent with the Zeitgeist?
In a way, it is: we wrote not long ago about the heavy shapes and massive C-pillars, how the appearance of weight gave security in uncertain times dating back to the early 1970s. And what was the antithesis to that? Giugiaro’s application of the folded paper look to his Volkswagen Golf I. It marks happier, more efficient times ahead.
But Giugiaro worked on a package presented to him by Volkswagen engineers and dressed them. Electric vehicles have fewer such limitations. That means you can push the envelope more, like Jaguar did with the I-Pace, for example. This is why you don’t see the acclaimed Ford Mustang Mach-E on this page: its proportions are predictable, the Mustang detailing looks like an afterthought on a vehicle that, according to its internal development code (CX727), could have been an electric crossover by Focus.
No, if you want to stick with forms that hark back to the internal combustion engine era, there are sexier proponents, like Xpeng’s P7. And in the C segment, the Renault Mégane E-Tech looks a more cohesive design, as if design chief Laurens van den Acker and his team intended it to look from the start. It should also be familiar to those who might otherwise have bought a regular hatchback.
The Ioniq 5 might then hold back too much. So no such concerns with the Kia EV6.
When you find this on the same platform, you’ll be amazed at how well thought out it is. Unlike the days when Kias shared doors with Hyundais but put on new front and rear fascias, or when an electric Kia meant a Soul EV, this is sexy and sleek. It takes up Kia’s “Opposites United” design philosophy and embraces the interaction between humans and nature.
Although Kia sees the EV6 occupying the electric crossover space, the design is decidedly sporty, with a low nose and air intake (which directs air under the car where there’s a flat floor) and a short front overhang. While the Ioniq 5’s overhang is also short, we think Kia has more deftly blended the lights, fenders and hood. The windshield extends forward into the sculptural bonnet, while the glass house elongates and lowers the vehicle’s appearance, while the rear pillar forms a triangular shape that is part of a sporty aesthetic in car design.
While that rear pillar shape (and the “floating” roof effect) isn’t novel, the way Kia’s designers integrated the taillights into the bumper is. Rising from the wheel arch to the rear, this thin stripe is one of the cleanest solutions we’ve seen, leaving the rear panel uncluttered except for Kia’s proud new logo.
The interior might not be as high-tech as some, but Kia isn’t selling the EV6 in that regard. Everything indicates that it is a driver’s car; Geeks can get the Ioniq 5. Despite the low roof line, there is plenty of space: 1,078 mm legroom at the front, 990 mm at the rear. Wheelbase is a whopping 2,900mm (for what Kia calls “compact” in the US).
And it’s high tech enough. The dashboard is simple with a minimal number of buttons, and a wide curved screen integrates the driver’s instrument cluster in front of them, with infotainment and navigation above the center stack.
Kia offers premium seats for more upscale EV6s, allowing the driver and passenger to recline in comfort – just right when you’re charging at a public service station. For its eco-friendliness, the EV6 has sustainable and recycled materials inside.
Despite the crossover label, it has a low center of gravity and the handling has been tuned in Europe, and you have a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.
It blends many genres so well, offering sporty looks, space, practicality and the electric powertrain.
It’s nice to see curvaceous form among all the dull, energy-inefficient SUVs, and while the EV6 might not start a design revolution, it’s a far more appealing direction than yet another big box. There’s something special about it, and that’s always a criterion when we announce our Cars to Be Seen in.
But most importantly, the EV6 is classless, a criterion that seems to set some of our winners apart. In the US, you can pick up the base model for $33,400 (with the federal tax credit included), making it a far more attractive deal than another electric vehicle we unveiled in 2021: the Mercedes-Benz EQS, which has a base price in the US has over $102,000. It was tempting to celebrate the EQS, but the accessibility puts our 2021 award in the corner of the EV6. •
Jack Yan is the founder and publisher of Lucire.
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