22 December 2021
Are we really well down the electric route, or is it just hype? writes Brian Byrne. Here are a couple of facts, out of many recent that are EV related. In July of this year, two thirds of all cars sold in Oslo, capital of Norway, were electric. In Shenzhen, China, all 16,000 buses serving the city have been switched to electric, as well as 22,000 taxis. Sure, Norway has been an EV leader for some time, and in China there's a state-backed impetus for EVs. But that's the destination for all of us, sooner or later.
I was thinking of that when I had my first drive experience in Kia's latest electric contender in the passenger car market. The EV6 has just joined the Soul and Niro in the Korean brand's EV offerings, and in this case is moving the company close to the premium EV business. The Hyundai-Kia group is one of those which have committed strongly to electric (and also to hydrogen fuel cell development, further down the sustainable motoring road).
Unlike the Soul and Niro, the EV6 is built on a dedicated EV platform, which will underpin a range of different models under the EV moniker. The same platform is carrying the Hyundai Ioniq 5 which I reviewed a while back. But the Kia suggests how this brand will be shaping its future course, as perhaps more upmarket than Hyundai.
The EV6 style is standout. Futuristic without being off the wall. Classic without being retro. Sporty as thoroughbred rather than tearaway. And that recently-changed Kia badge marks the brand transition perfectly here. Kia on the move.
In size the EV6 parks smack in the middle of the main competition, a whisker larger than the VW ID.4, just a tad smaller than the Jaguar I-Pace. And side by side with the Ioniq 5 half-brother. The Mustang Mach-E, which I have yet to drive, is just a little longer than all those.
If the exterior style isn't enough to show Kia's premium intention, there's no mistake when you slip inside. Other electric cars have, in general, taken a somewhat minimalist direction on interior styling. Tesla, for instance, makes a feature of spartanism. Volkswagen's ID cars also do, especially in instrumentation (for some reason the German group seems to have given Skoda's Enyaq the more upmarket interior). Of course, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have retained their premium ethos in their electric offerings. And to my mind, it is these last that Kia is targeting.
The EV6 style and quality of finish is exemplary. And, like the exterior, standout in the mix of classic and future-proofed modernist. It doesn't try to state luxury, yet in the details, materials, and really coherent colours-matching, it deserves a premium tag.
The premium drive that is a feature of the relative silence of electric cars suits this ambience perfectly, both on motorway and country roads. I'll be doing a longer experience with the EV6 in due course, but 24 hours with the car allowed me to try it in a wide range of country and urban spaces. It's a big car, but even on a narrow boreen it didn't feel awkward. On the motorway it hums confidently, and a flick of the drive mode button on the steering wheel will instantly click it into Sport for very quick overtaking.
I left the car back with the clear impression that the EV6 is quite likely the best electric car in its size class I have so far driven. As I said I'll be going more in-depth at a later stage. But here are the salient technicals: a 229hp electric motor and a range of up to 528km; charging 10-80pc at a 50kW in an hour and 13 minutes, or in 18 minutes only at a 350kW charge station.
The EV6 comes with pretty well every driver assist currently available even in the Earth grade, while the GT-Line adds bigger alloys and some extra body detailing, as well as an opening panoramic sunroof.
All this, of course, is not cheap. The EV6 is up there with the main premium contenders in the pricing. Another indication of brand intent.
PRICE: From €50,000. WHAT I LIKED: Where Kia is going.
3 December 2021
Toyota has revealed its first battery-electric car, the bZ4X SUV which will arrive in Ireland in May of next year, writes Brian Byrne.
The car will have a front-wheel drive electric motor with 204hp and there will also be an AWD version. The bZ4X has been given a provisional range of more than 450km, and Toyota says an 80pc charge can be achieved in 30 minutes at a 150kW charging unit. An optional 3-phase on board charger will be available from later in the year.
Cabin heating is by heat-pump, augmented by infra-red under-dash heating for the front occupants. Potential customers can register their interest through Toyota.ie.
2 December 2021
For those who appreciate a stylish compact estate, the reveal of the new Astra Sports Tourer is a treat, writes Brian Byrne.
The wagon version of the Astra will be here next summer, and will have petrol and diesel power, as well as a plug-in hybrid engine. Six-speed manual and 8-speed automatic transmissions will be available, depending on engine choice.
The boot provides up to more than 608 litres of storage space, with the rear seatbacks upright, and up to 1,634 litres when folded.
Prices, trims and other details will come closer to launch here.
26 November 2021
All-season tyres have registered a 'huge' growth in the Irish market over the last two years, according to Continental Tyres Irish boss Tom Dennigan, writes Brian Byrne.
Speaking at a media briefing to Irish journalists, he noted a 158pc increase in all-season sales in passenger cars, and a 448pc rise in the van segment. "All-season tyres are a good option for our mild climate," Mr Dennigan said, noting that we rarely see the levels of extreme cold or hot weather as experienced in continental Europe.
Overall tyre sales in Ireland have rebounded from the 12pc 'covid drop' of 2020, and during 2021 are up 124pc compared to sales in 2019. Tom Dennigan said much of this is due to increased sales of tyres for vans, reflecting the big increase in deliveries due to online sales.
25 November 2021
This is the next generation of the Kia Niro, unveiled at the 2021 Seoul Mobility Show this week, writes Brian Byrne.
Though no technical specifications have been made available, the car will have hybrid, PHEV and electric powertrain options. The interior follows the theme set by the new generation Sportage, and the car will be officially launched next year.
In nods towards sustainability, Kia said the headliner of the interior is made from recycled wallpaper, and the seats from plastics derived from eucalyptus leaves. The paint is water-based.