Australia might not be due to receive an electric Kia Cerato until the next-generation model arrives in the coming years – but there’s already one for sale exclusively in China, known as the Kia K3 EV.
Based on the regular K3 sedan sold by Kia in China – a rebadged version of Australia's Cerato sedan, with a new front bumper and tweaked interior – the K3 EV arrives as the brand's second electric vehicle in the region, built there as part of a joint-venture with local companies Dongfeng and Yueda.
Powering the electric sedan is a 135kW/310Nm electric motor on the front axle, paired to one of two lithium-ion battery sizes: a 48.6kWh pack providing up to 410km of claimed driving range, or a larger 56.5kWh unit delivering 490km of claimed range.
However, it's worth noting both numbers are calculated according to the more lenient NEDC laboratory test cycle used in China, rather than Europe's more realistic WLTP protocol. Expect real-world ranges to fall to around 270km and 350km, respectively.
No performance figures or charging speed claims have been released, however regenerative braking is on hand to top up the battery with energy recuperated under deceleration in city environments.
Visual differences between EV and petrol-powered versions of the Chinese-market K3 are minimal, limited largely to a closed-off front grille, tweaked lower front and rear bumpers, and blue accents.
Inside, whereas facelifted, Australian-delivered Cerato models feature a 4.2-inch display between the analog instruments – with a fully-digital 10.25-inch cluster available overseas – the Chinese K3 EV offers a 7.0-inch instrument display, flanked by digitised speed, range, battery voltage and battery current readouts.
A 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen sits in the centre of the dashboard, like Australian models (albeit with Chinese-specific software) – though the EV replaces petrol models' conventional gear shifter with a shift-by-wire rotary dial.
Available features on flagship K3 EV vehicles include keyless entry, an electric sunroof, electric tailgate, wireless phone charging, Baidu satellite navigation, and a suite of active safety features, including autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring and high-beam assist.
Prices for the 2021 Kia K3 EV in China start at 176,800 yuan (AU$35,700) for an entry-level, 410km version – a circa-55 per cent increase over an equivalent petrol model, equating to around $42,000 drive-away in Australia.
A range-topping model with the long-range 56.5kWh battery would be priced just under $50,000 drive-away Down Under.
However, those prices will remain purely theoretical, as the Kia K3 EV is built solely for the Chinese market.
Australian Kia buyers keen on swapping trips to the petrol pump for a charging station can currently opt for the recently-launched Niro EV small SUV, which will serve as a stop-gap until the arrival of the larger EV6 and next-generation Niro EV in 2022.