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Why the Kia EV6 is everything the Stinger wasn't: The new electric model is the long-awaited game-changer for the brand - Opinion

The EV6 is Kia's new hero model and ushers in a new era for the brand.

The Kia EV6 isn’t the biggest-selling model for the South Korean brand - but it is the most important.

Not since I drove the brand new Ford Mustang a few years back have I noticed as many onlookers staring at my press evaluation car, but the EV6 demands attention. And in all the right ways.

It’s unlikely to sell in huge volumes, given its premium price and limited supply, but that’s not really a problem in the grand scheme of things.

Kia has long tried to find a breakthrough model that would alter buyer’s perception of the brand, changing its image from a maker of ‘cheap and cheerful’ (a euphemism for cheap and not very good) cars and into a mainstream rival to the likes of Toyota, Mazda and its own sister brand, Hyundai.

Kia tried to achieve this with the Stinger, creating a powerful, rear-wheel drive sports sedan that could - in theory - replace the likes of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, and potentially even compete with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class (although the latter was arguably a more European-centric aspiration from the company).

The reality was - and as we’ve previously written - the Stinger was the right car at the wrong time. It would unquestionably have been a more popular model for Kia if it had arrived five or even 10 years earlier, when demand for affordable sports sedans was much higher.

In contrast, the EV6 is seemingly exactly the right car for this moment in time. More and more consumers are beginning to make the switch to electric cars. Sales are up more than 400 per cent in the first five months of 2022, with the EV6 joined by the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, Tesla Model Y, BMW iX3 and Audi e-tron in an expanding selection for buyers.

It should also go without saying that Kia’s decision to make the EV6 an SUV was a wise choice, as demand for these sorts of vehicles continues to out-strip demand for sedans by a significant margin.

The Stinger has found itself a niche, appealing to a small but loyal sedan-loving audience as well as law enforcement agencies. But for Kia the EV6 represents everything the brand is aspiring to be.

Kia has overhauled not only its showroom range but the showrooms themselves, undertaking a corporate rebrand complete with new logo. While it seemed somewhat out-of-place on existing or facelifted models, the new Kia badge seems perfectly placed on the EV6.

In many respects the differences between the Stinger and EV6 represent not just how far Kia has come as a company, but how much we’ve changed as a buying public in the last decade.

The Stinger represents all that the industry used to stand for - sedans, rear-wheel drive and internal combustion - while the EV6 is all about the present and the future - SUVs and electrification.

Perhaps the bigger question is what Kia will do with this new hero model? There’s no doubt that since the Stinger arrived Kia has enjoyed huge sales growth, rising as high as number four on the sales charts, but it seems that success came regardless of the Stinger.

Will Kia be able to use the success and attention of the EV6 to position itself as a market leader as we move into this new era of electrification. It already has a more affordable EV, the Niro, available locally and has expanded into hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains across various models. It seems the brand is on the right track and the EV6 is helping to push it further forward.

But perhaps the best news for Kia is that the real hero of the EV6 line-up hasn’t even arrived yet - the EV6 GT. This range-topping model will boast 430kW/700Nm, taking the brand way beyond the 274kW/510Nm offered in the twin-turbo V6 Stinger. This will push Kia into genuine performance car territory and who knows where else that will lead…