In this EV game, there are heroes, both sung and unsung. More often than not, it’s the Teslas and Polestars of this world that steal all the headlines with their space-age technology and spaceship designs. But actually, some of the most significant EVs of the past decade have rather flown under the radar, adored by those who drive them but underappreciated by the rest of the world.

And there is surely no better example of this than the electric offerings of Kia and Hyundai. For years now, the Korean sister brands have been churning out high-quality, great value EVs with immense range and a tonne of tech as standard. The E-Niro, the Soul, and the Kona Electric — all brilliant cars in their own right, but all with the same Achilles’ heel. They’re very impressive, very worthy, but not very… sexy. Like almost all Kias and Hyundais before them, these are cars you buy with your sensible hat on. They appeal to your head but not your heart. They are, to be blunt, a bit charmless.

But the beautiful thing about this EV revolution is it does create a lovely opportunity for reinvention — an opportunity that both Kia and Hyundai have seized emphatically. Having successfully developed their own modular EV architecture — the E-GMP — which will underpin a plethora of new EVs in the coming years, both brands have decided now is the time for a bit of a makeover. Hyundai went first with the Ioniq 5, and the reception was truly remarkable. No Hyundai before it has ever generated such buzz. And it’s easy to see why — it’s a wonderful piece of design, a truly desirable object, and still packed with the ultra-impressive EV hardware and as-standard tech we’ve come to expect from the Korean carmakers.

And now it’s Kia’s turn — and it’s safe to say that with the new EV6, they’ve gone in a slightly different direction to Hyundai. Yes, both cars are underpinned by the same platform. Yes, they are roughly the same size and use roughly the same batteries. But design-wise, the EV6 is a very different proposition. No friendly, boxy, retro-futurism here — this is a far more aggressive and polarising design, both inside and out. And having spent a day poking and prodding around a pre-production car, I’m completely sold.

There are two things that really struck me during my day with the EV6. First is, of course, the way it looks. Based on pictures, I was certain that the smiley, butter-wouldn’t-melt Hyundai would be my favorite of the two. But seeing the Kia in the metal, I’m not so sure. There are so many design cues that catch your eye, from its swooping, sporty silhouette to that muscular rear haunch and the utterly outrageous rear lightbar. Even the wing mirrors are mad. There’s a lot going on, and it could very easily have amounted to a design that’s a little too busy. But it doesn’t. Instead, it all combines for a seriously handsome and not especially SUV-looking family SUV. A true head-turner

The second thing that struck me is the sheer quality of the thing. Even on this pre-prod car, the fit and finish were beyond anything I’ve ever seen from a Korean car. The cabin is beautiful, dripping with tech, and everything you touch feels expensive. In fact, the interior might just be the most impressive thing about the car — and we haven’t even got to the face-melting performance on offer at the point end of the EV6 range yet. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say the following sentence: I cannot wait for a drive in this new Kia.

Check out the video above for my detailed first look at the remarkable EV6, and be sure to let us know in the comments what you make of Kia’s brave new look.

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