Kia EV6 VS Alfa Romeo Stelvio
- Rich power supply
- Plenty of backseat space
- Modern, clean cabin feels bang on
- USB set-up is quirky
- Steering not as good as the ride and handling balance
- EVs are still expensive
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
- Sexy design
- Sporty handling
- Great chassis
- Reliability fears of it being Italian
- Some cheap feeling touches
- Doesn't sound like an Alfa
Strap in, folks. This one is going to be electrifying.
Gawd, that's a terrible pun. But don't give up on me yet, because this really is pretty exciting. I promise.
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It's new, it's exciting, and there's already a waiting list as long as your arm for it in Australia. So let's not waste time, shall we? Let's go figure out exactly what we're dealing with here.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Just how important are looks, really? Sure, if you’re a model, or you’re asking Rihanna or Brad Pitt for a date, or you’re a sports car, or a super yacht, being attractive is helpful. But if you’re an SUV, like Alfa Romeo’s new, brand-reshaping Stelvio, does it really matter?
There are some people who believe all SUVs are ugly because they are simply too big to look good, in the same way that all 12-foot tall people, no matter how good-looking, would be undeniably off-putting.
Yet there are undeniably a lot of people who find SUVs, particularly expensive European ones, very much attractive, as well as practical, because how else could you explain the fact that cars like this Stelvio - mid-sized SUVs - are now the biggest-selling premium segment in Australia?
We’re set to snap up more than 30,000 of them this year, and Alfa wants to take as much of that tasty sales pie chart as it can.
If success could be put down to looks alone, you’d have to back the Stelvio to succeed fabulously, because it truly is that rarest of things, an SUV that’s actually attractive, even sexy. But does it have what it takes in other areas to tempt buyers into choosing an Italian option over the trusted Germans?
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
At first glance, the EV6 deserves its many accolades, and its lengthy – and growing – waiting list.
Part spacious, family friendly cruiser, part potent and pretty sporty weekender, it sits in both camps comfortable, and performs both roles admirably.
Honestly, it's the kind of EV that will encourage more people to make the all-electric switch. And that can only be a good thing.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
Properly beautiful in a way only Italian cars can ever be, the new Alfa Romeo Stelvio really is what the marketeers promise - a more emotional, more fun and better-looking option to the German offerings we’ve been served up for so long. Yes, it’s an Italian car, so it might not turn out to be quite as well built as an Audi, Benz or BMW, but it will definitely make you smile more often. Particularly when you look at it.
Are the Alfa's looks enough to tempt you away from the Germans? Tell us in the comments below.
The EV6 is destined to be constantly compared to the Ioniq 5, but which one looks better is a matter entirely for you. One thing is certain, though - the two sure look different.
Bizarrely, the EV6 is actually considered a large SUV (based solely on its dimensions), but it sure doesn't look like one. In GT-Line spec, especially, it cuts a handsome on-road figure, with its wide-and-low front end, raked-style roofline and fat-bottom rear-end - accentuated by the cool light bar that stretches from brake light to brake light.
The real highlight is the cabin experience, both front and back. Kia's twin-screen set-up looks clean and modern, but you don't have to rely on it to control the car's key functions. Instead, an active bar below with a dial at each end controls the air-con, or the stereo, depending on which you're using.
The eco materials that span the dash feel high-quality to the touch, as do the seat materials, and the entire experience feels modern and new.
Downsides? The cabin in the EV6 Air is a noticeable downgrade (reminder, it's a $68k entry-level model), with lesser materials and design flourishes. And I know this is going to sound petty, but the use of Kia's traditional graphics and fonts simply don't do the new screens justice.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio9/10
It might be unfair to suggest Italians are more interested in design than anything else, but it would only be honest to suggest that it often feels that way. And when that obsession with making things look good results in a car as curvaceous, sensuous and sporty as this, who could argue that it’s a bad thing?
I once asked a senior Ferrari designer why Italian cars, and super cars in particular, look so much better than German ones, and his answer was simple: “when you grow up surrounded by so much beauty, it’s natural to make beautiful things”.
For Alfa to produce a car, like the Giulia, that reflects its brand’s design aesthetic and proud sporting heritage - it is the brand that gave birth to Ferrari, as its spin doctors like to remind us - is almost expected, or predictable.
But to perform the same feat on this scale, on a big, bulky SUV with all of its proportional challenges, is a real achievement. I’d have to say there’s not a single angle from which I don’t like the look of it.
The interior is almost as good, but does fall down in a few areas. If you buy the 'First Edition Pack', a $6000 cost and one that’s only available to the first 300 people to rush in, or the 'Veloce Pack' they’ll also offer ($5000), you get really nice sporty seats and shiny pedals, and the panoramic roof, which manages to let light in without cutting your headroom off.
Buy an actual base model, however, for a notional $65,900, and you’ll get a lot less class. The steering wheel won’t feel as sporty, either, but no matter which variant you buy you’re stuck with a slightly cheap and plastic-feeling gear shifter (which is also a bit counterintuitive to use), which is a shame, because it’s a touch point you’ll use every day. The 8.8-inch screen is also not quite of German standard, and the sat nav can be temperamental.
The cool-steel gear-shift paddles, on the other hand, are absolutely gorgeous, and would feel at home on a Ferrari.
It's pretty practical in the cabin, a little less so in the boot. Simple.
The EV6 is a sizeable beast, riding on the Hyundai Group's E-GMP platform and stretching 4695mm in length, 1890mm in width and 1550mm in height, and it rides on a big 2900mm wheelbase – all of which is good news for cabin space.
The front seats are spacious and airy, but the big win is for backseat riders, where there was miles of leg-room behind my 175cm driving position, and , thanks to the lack of a tunnel, enough room for three passengers. The raked roofline does impact headroom a little. Not enough to trouble me, mind, but perhaps taller people might find it a little tight.
More numbers? Kia reckons the EV6 will tow 1600kg braked, and 750kg unbraked, with a 100kg downball. Cleverly, the EV6 will automatically detect the weight of the trailer, and then adjust your range estimate accordingly.
There are some slight quirks in the cabin, though. I counted four USB-C connections - two in the front, and two in the sides of the front seats for rear passengers - but the only port that allows you to access Apple CarPlay is the sole USB-A connection. Which means, if you use a new iPhone and MacBook, then you'll be packing an older-style cord just to connect your phone to the car.
A wireless connection would solve that, of course, but it's missing from the EV6 inclusion list, though there is a wireless charge pad.
I do love the traditional house-style power point for backseat riders, which means you can run bigger laptops or gadgets, and I love the external V2L port in the GT-Line which allows you to power your campsite, or even trickle-charge someone else's EV. There's the usual array of cupholders and bottle holders, too.
Open the boot and you'll find a wide space that will swallow between 480 and 490L of cargo, depending on your trim level. It's joined by a frunk (or froot?) storage space under the bonnet that will store another 52L in rear-drive variants, or 20L in the twin-motor GT-Line.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
We were lucky enough to drive this car early, on a recent family holiday in Italy, and can tell you that the boot (525 litres) can swallow an astonishing amount of poorly packed crap, or a metric tonne of Italian wine and food, if it happens to be shopping day.
The load space is practical and easy to use, and the rear seats are also capacious We may or may not have tried to pack three adults and two kids in there at one stage (not on a public road, obviously, just for fun) and it was still comfortable, while I can easily sit behind my own 178cm driving position without my knees coming close to brushing the seat back. Hip and shoulder room are also good.
There are map pockets in the seatbacks, plenty of bottle storage in the door bins and two American-sized cupholders, and a big storage bin, between the front seats.
Price and features
When it comes to EVs, pricing is comparative, and bargains are relative, which is my convoluted way of saying the near-$70k asking price for the cheapest EV6 actually isn't quite as steep as it sounds.
The EV6 arrives in Australia in two trim levels - the entry-level Air ($67,990) and the GT-Line ($74,990 RWD, $82,990 AWD) - and all share the same battery and platform, but with differing levels of performance and range.
The Air rides on 19-inch alloys, gets LED headlights and taillights, flush-fitting door handles and power folding mirrors. In the cabin, you get a round gear selector, paddle shifters (that actually control the regen-braking), part vegan leather seats, LED interior lighting and a clever V2L power point that helps keep devices topped up.
On-board tech is handled by twin 12.3-inch curved displays, and there's dual-zone climate, on-board navigation, wireless phone charging and USB charging.
Step up to the EV6 GT-Line and you'll get bigger, 20-inch alloys, and you get the GT-Line body kit with an external V2L power point. The seats are trimmed in suede and vegan leather, there's a stainless steel luggage sill, and you get Active Sound Design that allows you to dial up or down the driving soundtrack.
You then add an augmented-reality Head-Up Display, a 14-speaker Meridian sound system, a smart tailgate, a more advanced version of Kia's Remote Smart Park Assist, a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats - which also have a leaned-back relaxation mode for when you're recharging.
Kia also homologated a smaller (which means cheaper) battery version of the EV6 for Australia, but with the brand holding some 25,000 registrations of interest, and with only around 500 vehicles to be delivered this year, there's little chance of them adding it anytime soon. If you want an EV6 now, then it will be one of these ones.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
If you’re buying the absolute base model Stelvio at $65,990, which we’d suggest you shouldn’t because it is a far, far better car with the adaptive dampers fitted, you get all those good looks thrown in for free, plus 19-inch, 10-spoke alloys, a 7.0-inch driver instrument cluster and the 8.8-inch colour multimedia display with 3D satnav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, an eight-speaker stereo, the 'Alfa DNA Drive Mode System' (which mainly seems to light up some graphics but supposedly allows you to choose between Dynamic, Normal and an eco-friendly option you’ll never use.
But wait, there’s more, including cruise control, dual-zone climate control, an electric tailgate, front and rear parking sensors, rear camera, hill-descent control, electrically adjusted front seats, leather seats (not the sporty ones, though) and a tyre-pressure-monitoring system.
It’s quite a lot of gear for the cash, but as we say, most people will want to step up to the extras you get - and most tellingly the adaptive dampers - with either the First Edition ($6000) or Veloce ($5000) packs.
Alfa Romeo is keen to point out how keen its pricing is, particularly against German offerings like Porsche’s Macan, and it does seem like good value, even at just north of $70k.
Engine & trans
The Air and the GT-Line RWD are powered by a single electric motor at the rear axle, good for 168kW, 350Nm and a 7.3-second dash to 100km/h.
The GT-Line AWD adds a second electric motor, and produces a total 239kW and 605Nm - enough to deliver a sprint to 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio7/10
Because I am older than the internet, I’m still mildly baffled every time I see that a car company is attempting to fit a four-cylinder engine into a largish SUV like the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, so I’m always politely surprised the first time such a small-engined big car manages go up a hill without exploding.
While bigger, faster Stelvios will arrive later in the year, with the all-conquering QV set to land in the fourth quarter, the versions you can buy now must make do with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine making 148kW/330Nm, or the 2.2T diesel with 154kW/470Nm (a 2.0 Ti will also arrive later, with a more fabulous 206kW/400Nm).
It should come as no surprise from those numbers that the diesel is actually the better option to drive, with not only more usable, down-low torque (the max arrives at 1750rpm) but more kilowatts as well. The 2.2T thus gets from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds, quicker than the petrol (at 7.2 seconds) and also quicker than competitors like the Audi Q5 (8.4 in diesel or 6.9 petrol), BMW X3 (8.0 and 8.2) and Mercedes GLC (8.3 as a diesel or 7.3 in petrol).
Even more surprisingly, the diesel sounds slightly better, more growly, when you attempt to drive it hard, than the slightly wheezy petrol. On the down side, the 2.2T does sound tractor like at idle in multistorey car parks, and neither engine sounds even vaguely like you would want an Alfa Romeo to.
The diesel is the pick at this level - doing an impressive job despite being asked to do the equivalent of piggybacking Clive Palmer up a hill - but the 2.0 Ti (which will hit 100km/h in a more impressive 5.7 seconds) would be worth waiting for.
Energy consumption here is measured in Wh/km, and the Air needs 165, the GT-Line RWD requires 172 and the GT-Line AWD needs 180. More commonly, we state these in kWh/100km, because that's what is more understandable. Thankfully, the maths is easy: Air - 16.5kWh/100km; GT-Line RWD - 17.2kWh/100km; GT-Line AWD - 18.0kWh/100km.
But what does that actually mean? Well, the Air will give you the best driving range, at a claimed 528km between charges. Interestingly, the GT-Line RWD shares the same battery and motor, but will travel 24km less, at 504km. Finally, the GT-Line AWD will travel 484km between charges.
When it does come time to plug in, Kia reckons a 50kW charger will take you from 10-80 per cent in around one hour and 13 minutes. A 350kW charger will do the same in around 18 minutes. Using an at-home wall box will take you to full in around 11 hours.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
Alfa is also keen to point out that its new Stelvio is class leading when it comes to fuel economy, with claimed figures of 4.8 litres per 100km for the diesel (no one else gets under 5.0L/100km, they say) and 7.0L/100km for the petrol.
In the real world, driven enthusiastically, we saw 10.5L/100km for the petrol and closer to 7.0 for the diesel. The simple fact is you will need, and want, to drive them harder than those claimed figures suggest will be possible.
The mark of a sorted car is often how well it hides its size and weight. Some vehicles seem bigger from behind the wheel, but the good ones seem to shrink around you.
The EV6, then, is definitely in the "good ones" camp. Despite lugging two-tonne-plus with it wherever it goes, it somehow manages to feel constantly eager, mostly lithe and impressively sorted.
Yes, there are moments when the weight makes itself known (especially on the outside-front tyres when you're getting carried away in corners), but most of the time it's up to you to remember you're driving something pretty big and heavy, and to adjust your brake points accordingly.
Helping massively in that department is the rich flow of power generated by the EV6's electric motor, or motors. We took on a whole heap of roads and conditions, and never discovered any kind of flat spot in the power delivery, with the EV6 happy to keep accumulating speed in a refreshingly quiet and dignified manner.
I would argue that, for most people, most of the time, the single-motor models produce more than enough grunt for everyday driving. Not lighting fast, perhaps, but the power delivery feels so constant, so plentiful, that you never feel like you're really stretching its limits.
Yes, the AWD GT-Line is more fun powering out of corners, but it's also more to think about as your barreling towards one, too, with speed arriving pretty quickly whenever you plant your right foot.
There are no ludicrous modes or anything like that — just a rich seam of power ready to be mined when you need it. And for mine, it's a better car for it.
What is fun, though, is the Sport Mode, which doesn't just unlock more power (which is super noticeable when you swap from Normal to Sport with your foot flat), but also a much louder Jetson's style soundtrack.
Praise must once again be heaped on Kia's localisation program. We piloted some seriously dodgy road surfaces, and it's only the really major imperfections that make themselves known in the cabin.
The steering, however, isn't as brilliant. It's not terrible, either, it just doesn't feel all that linear, and it's super-sharp when you first turn the wheel, which can actually catch you off guard, before becoming a little more vague as the corner continues.
Honestly, I had just jumped out of another brand's hybrid before climbing into the EV6, and the all-electric drive was a much smoother and satisfying experience all around.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
Much like sitting down to watch the Socceroos lose again, I’ve learned not to expect too much from the driving experience offered by SUVs, because the way they drive clearly has little relevance to the way they sell.
The Alfa Romeo Stelvio comes as a genuine surprise then, because it drives, not just like a sports car on slightly rubbery stilts, but like an impressive but high-riding sedan.
Reports about how good the QV version is have been flooding in for some time now, and I've been taking them with large spoonfuls of salt, but it’s clear to see how that car can be so sharp and exciting to drive, because the chassis of this car, as well as the suspension set-up (at least with the adaptive dampers) and the steering, are built to cope with far more power and vigour than is on offer in this base model.
That’s not to say this version feels horribly underpowered - there are a few times when we were overtaking up a hill that more power would have been welcome, but it was never slow enough to be worrying - just that it’s clearly built for more.
In almost all situations, the diesel, in particular, provides enough grunt to make this mid-size SUV genuinely fun. I actually smiled while driving it, several times, which is unusual.
Most of that is down to the way it corners, rather than the way it goes, because this thing really is a light, nimble and enjoyable car on a twisty bit of road.
It feels genuinely involving through the steering wheel and genuinely capable in the way it holds on to the road. The brakes are genuinely good, too, with plenty of feel and force (apparently Ferrari had some involvement here, and it shows).
Having driven a far more basic model, without the adaptive dampers, and being less than impressed overall, I was surprised at how good the First Edition Pack cars we drove on some properly challenging roads were.
This really is a premium mid-size SUV I could almost, just about live with. And, if it’s the right sized car for your lifestyle, I’d absolutely understand you wanting to buy one.
The safety story here starts with driver and passenger airbags, along with front-side, curtain and a centre-side airbag.
The Air then adds clever stuff like a reverse camera, AEB, blind-spot collision with rear cross-traffic alert, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Following Assist, multi-collision braking, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise with speed limit assistance, and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
The GT-Line models build on that again, adding a Blind Spot View Monitor, a 3D surround-view camera and powered child locks.
No ANCAP rating yet, but Kia will adopt the European crash scores in its bid for a five-star rating.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
There’s much talk from Alfa about how its offering wins on emotion and passion and design, and not being bland and off-white/silver German, but they’re also keen on saying that it’s a rational, practical and safe alternative, as well.
Alfa claims, yet again, a class-leading safety score for the Stelvio, with a 97 per cent adult occupancy score in Euro NCAP testing (aka a maximum five stars).
Have you heard EVs are cheaper to service than ICE cars? They are.
The EV6 is covered by Kia's seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with its "high-voltage" bits covered for the same time, but the kilometres are capped at 150,000km. The battery, by the way, is guaranteed to maintain 70 per cent capacity at the seven-year mark.
Servicing costs are pretty impressive, with Kia inviting owners to pre-pay their maintenance costs for three years at $594, five years at $1089 package, or $1584 for seven years. That comes out at around $226 per year.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio8/10
Yes, buying an Alfa Romeo means buying an Italian car, and we’ve all heard the jokes about reliability, and heard companies from that country claiming those problems are behind them.
The Stelvio comes with a three-year/150,000km warranty, to make you feel safe, but that’s still not quite as good as the Giulia, which is being offered with a five-year one. We’d be pounding the desk and demanding they match that offer.
Servicing costs are another point of difference, the company claims, being cheaper than the Germans at $485 a year, or $1455 over three years, with those services coming every 12 months or 15,000km.