To find out the worst thing about an internal-combustion car, drive one in winter.
You’ve already summoned the courage to break out of bed, out of your pyjamas, and then out of the door, only to spend several more minutes sitting in an esky, at least until the engine warms up and the heater starts pumping. By which time, you’re at work and getting out into the cold again.
But in an electric vehicle, there is no purgatory. Punch the start button and the heater is breathing life into the 10 fleshy icicles on your hands within seconds.
It’s even better in the new Kia EV6 because the steering wheel is heated too.
The only trouble is, this drains the battery. After all, there is no internal-combustion generator on board.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of range to play with in the EV6, up to 528 km to be (more or less) precise.
It can also (technically) charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes, although there’s hardly a charger in Australia than can deliver that much power that quickly.
Admit it, there was a time when you would not dream of driving anything with a Kia badge that far. Mainly because you worried it wouldn’t make it out of the driveway in one piece. Those days are long gone.
Kia, and its stablemate, Hyundai, have come a long way, and we know this because they’re offering market-leading seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranties. They wouldn’t do that if their cars weren’t up to it.
The EV6 is the brand’s first dabble in electric vehicles, but in a way, they’ve cheated by pinching everything from the Hyundai IONIQ 5. So you get suspension expertly tuned for Australia’s shoddy roads, a sweeping infotainment screen, and a regenerative braking system with four levels from ‘off’ to ‘really very on’.
The designers were just told to make EV6 look different, and they certainly have. I’m not sure the result is pretty, but people can’t stop looking at it.
Much like the IONIQ 5, you expect a hatchback from the pictures, but it turns into an SUV very fast when you approach it in the metal. It also isn’t small.
This, and the lack of a transmission tunnel, means it’s very roomy inside. It’s also very pleasing to see yet another car manufacturer moving away from your accountant’s trousers for inspiration, although I have doubts about the piano black trim – I had it for a week and there were already scratches.
In this top-of-the-range GT-Line, motors on both axles give it all-wheel drive and a 0-100 km/h time of 5.2 seconds. The acceleration doesn’t quite snap your spleen and liver the way a Tesla does, but it’s urgent nonetheless.
This model comes in at $87,590, but a cheaper rear-wheel-drive EV6 Air starts at $72,590.
Under normal circumstances, you would tell me I’m dreaming and go off to buy something with a badge worth that much. And under normal circumstances, I would not argue. But the Kia EV6 is legitimately good.
It’s quiet, smooth, refined and … okay, really quite cool-looking.
The only bad news is that you can’t buy one. A microchip shortage has slammed electric vehicle production and the wait time for the EV6 has blown out to nigh on two years. Even the local John McGrath dealerships are only accepting expressions of interest rather than risk holding deposits for more than one financial year.
While we wait, the new Kia Sportage GT-Line offers all of the space of the EV6 for $54,990. There is a petrol option, but I’ve been driving the 2-litre turbo-diesel (in a very fetching dark green-blue) up and down Canberra Avenue for a week now and the range has refused to budge from 600 km.
Must be the lack of a heating steering wheel.
These cars were provided for testing by Kia Australia. Region has no commercial arrangement with Kia Australia.