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The new Kia EV3 is a mini box on wheels that’s as aerodynamic as a Vauxhall Calibra

Somehow, Kia has made its small electric crossover as aerodynamically efficient as a swoopy 90s coupe

Published: 23 May 2024

Carmakers’ understanding of aerodynamics has come a long way since the Vauxhall Calibra 2.0 8V and its 0.26 drag coefficient. Heck, you wouldn’t think it by looking at it, but somehow Kia’s boxy new EV3 pretty much matches that Cd figure.

Yep, with its 0.267Cd this compact crossover is as slippery as a 1990s coupe, and the result is an impressive maximum range of 373 miles on a single charge.

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That range comes courtesy of an 81.4kWh battery in the Long Range version of the EV3, but from launch you’ll also be able to spec a Standard Range car with a 58.3kWh battery and 255 miles of range. The EV3 will be front-wheel drive only when it’s launched later this year, with both versions getting a single motor that makes 201bhp. As a result, the 0-62mph times are a sensible 7.4 seconds for the Standard Range and 7.7 seconds for the heavier Long Range.

Want to go quicker? A twin-motor, all-wheel drive GT variant is in Kia’s product plan and should arrive in a couple of years’ time.

The EV3’s design is of course heavily influenced by the monstrous EV9, with similar upright lighting, a modern ‘Tiger Face’ front end and super square wheelarches. The production car that you see above looks remarkably similar to the concept that was first shown in late 2023, too. We’re told the look conforms to Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy by combining “the emotional with the rational” – we think that’s designer speak for “it’s boxy but we quite like it”. Oh, and it’s worth noting the windscreen is heavily raked and the roof slopes away quite dramatically, while the rear is actually slightly narrower than the front and 80 per cent of the underbody is covered to improve aero.

The extended wheelbase and short overhangs mean there’s plenty of room inside the cabin. You get five seats and a “technology-rich living space interior", says Kia. Said space is dominated by screenage that you’ll also recognise from the EV9. That means there’s a 12.3in digital dial display, followed by a 5.3in touchscreen that’s dedicated to the climate controls (and is mostly obscured by the steering wheel, oops) and another 12.3in central touchscreen for the infotainment. The EV3 will be the first Kia to get apps such as Netflix and YouTube and there will be inbuilt gaming to pass the time while charging (at speeds of up to 102kW in the Standard Range and 128kW in the Long Range). Oh, and there’s also a 12.3in head-up display in there too. That certainly is ‘technology-rich’.

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The ‘living space’ features include Kia’s reclining relaxation seat option and a sliding tray that can extend the centre console to give you a working or eating space while stationary. There’s 28.5kg of recycled material in there too, plus a flat floor and very few buttons on the dash. Don’t worry too much though, because there are a couple above and below the air vent and there are more on the doors, the steering wheel and the centre console.

“We really wanted to create a very modern look for the dashboard,” interior designer Eunsung Choi tells TG. “We tried to reduce the number of buttons, but in the end you need some because these are functions that you use every day. So, we tried to get rid of the buttons that we rarely use, but we kept those that are most important like volume buttons and climate temperature buttons.”

Those buttons set the EV3 apart from rivals like the Volvo EX30, and Kia isn’t shy about naming the Volvo, the Smart #1 and the Renault Megane E-Tech as direct competitors. It also reckons it can steal sales from more traditional hatch shaped EVs like the VW ID.3 and Cupra Born. For reference, the EV3 is 4.3m long, 1.85m wide and 1.56m tall, with 460 litres of boot space and a 25-litre frunk.

Anything else you need to know? The EV3 will feature bi-directional charging with V2L, V2H and V2G capability. There will also be a ChatGPT voice assistant (eugh), many driver assist systems and a little QR code on the dash that takes you to the sustainability section of Kia’s website.

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