ELECTRIC cars have been charging ahead in recent years – transforming from quirky vehicles with impractical ranges to stylish cars that can do hundreds of miles with a full battery – and none of the latest models better illustrates this progress than KIA’s EV6.

It is less than a decade ago that I got to test my first EV, the somewhat doomed Chrysler Volt that could manage just 14 miles on a full charge. Needless to say the test did not go well, especially when the Volt deciding to lose even that very restricted range and leave me stranded.

Fast forward to 2023 and the EV6, which can achieve a claimed range of over 400 city driving miles on a single charge and refill from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in 18 minutes on an ultra-fast charge point. On a more common, 50kW public charger, that takes 73 minutes.

It is, however, fair to say many electric cars have proved quick but a bit soulless – not so the EV6 as KIA go up a gear with its no compromise EV line-up. Sharing a platform with the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and upcoming Genesis GV60 the EV6 shows what a car maker with the expertise and resources of KIA can really achieve.

They have kept the model range simple – just one battery size (77.4kWh) driving a single 226bhp rear-wheel drive motor or two for a more powerful (321bhp) all-wheel drive set up.

The KIA is not only more powerful than rivals it is lighter so no surprise then that the 0 to 60 time is just 6.9 seconds with a top speed of 114mph.

There are also just three trim levels – Air, GT-Line and GT-Line S. Air is rear-wheel drive only so you need to step up to GT-Line for all-wheel-drive, although you can also have GT-Line trim with rear-wheel drive only like our GT-Line S test car.

As it is designed from the start to be an EV, the heavy battery pack is set low down giving improved handling and that single rear drive motor means lots of space for a generous passenger compartment. One consequence of a battery pack under the floor is that although the EV6 is not an SUV it is a little taller than most hatchbacks for passenger space.

And this EV has a few tricks up its sleeve including reverse charging, where it can supply up to 3.6kW through an adaptor with a three-pin socket – enough to power a freezer during a power cut or even to top up a lesser EV.

Inside there is an airy cabin with a very driver-focused cockpit including a tall centre console which houses the drive selector, a wireless charging pad, controls for the heated seats and steering wheel and lots of quirky storage. Passenger space in the rear is generous with lots of leg room.

The driving position feels sporty and beneath the central air vents there is a separate panel of virtual buttons and two knobs which double as infotainment and climate controls as you switch between the two.

KIA has one of the best touchscreen infotainment systems – clear, logically laid out and easy to use – beware though, the heated seats and steering wheel switches mounted at the front edge of the centre console are easy to accidentally activate.

The navigation system can suggest nearby charger points but, while the vehicles are getting there our charging infrastructure has yet to catch up and with thoughtless non-EV drivers blocking some of the few spaces it can still be a bit of a nightmare topping up. Special mention here for Paul at Bolton KIA for helping me out with that one.

Even the cheapest EV6 gets adaptive cruise control with speed limit recognition as well as automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance systems. GT-Line adds blind spot assistance and rear cross-traffic assistance. GT-Line S gets blind spot camera views in the instrument

cluster and other standard kit on our car included selective regenerative braking to recover energy when slowing down.

Servicing is every 10,000 miles or 12 months and like all KIAs the EV6 has a seven-year warranty including the battery, whose capacity is also guaranteed up to 70 per cent of its original factory level.

The EV6 Air starts at £45,245 rising to £48,245 for a rear-wheel-drive GT-Line and £53,645 for our GT-Line S. A front motor for more power and four-wheel drive adds another £3,500. A super-hot 4×4 577bhp GT version is also available for £62,645.

More info at www.kia.co.uk

By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth