Driven: The 2023 Kia EV6 GT Is A Family Car That’s Nearly As Fast As A Lambo Urus | Carscoops
With 576 hp and a starting price of just $61,400 the EV6 GT is poised to steal a lot of sales from rivals
14 hours ago
by Stephen Rivers
Earlier this year, we had one of the very first cracks at driving the then-all-new Kia EV6. We called it the new electric vehicle benchmark despite the fact that the top trim level, the GT, still hadn’t arrived. Now, as the year draws to a close, the flagship trim level is ready for the public and arriving at dealerships nationwide as you read this.
Unlike the rest of the EV6 lineup, the GT features a new 362 hp (270 kW) motor on the rear axle and the 214 hp motor that’s on the back of the GT-Line trim is now on the front axle of the GT. In combination, the pair makes a combined total of 576 hp (429 kW) and 545 lb-ft (738 Nm) of torque.
To find out if it really was worth the long wait, we went to Las Vegas and tested the Kia EV6 GT on public roads, on a road course, and on the drag strip. Here’s what we’ve found out about the most powerful production car to ever wear a Kia badge.
|› Model:||2023 Kia EV6 GT|
|› Starting MSRP:||$61,400|
|› Dimensions:||184.3 in. (4,681mm) L x 74.0 in. (1,880mm) W x 60.8 (1,544mm) H|
|› Power:||AWD – 576 hp (429 kW) and 545 lb-ft (738 Nm) Torque|
|› 0-60mph (96km/h):||3.4 seconds|
|› Top Speed||161 mph (259 km/h)|
|› Range:||206 Miles (331 km)|
|› On Sale:||Now|
Subtle Speed Aesthetics
We’ve talked before about just how polarizing the design of the EV6 can be. The EV6 GT is likely to create similar feelings on each end of the spectrum because it’s not much different. In fact, that lack of clear discernible difference from the normal EV6 might be a cause for rejoicing or derision all by itself depending on whom you ask.
Just like the rest of the EV6 lineup, the GT features a functional lower grille, a fairly tall ride height, and a dark body line near the ground that elevates to meet the rear decklid spoiler. The 3D headlight and tail light treatments look great in person and the holy roof-mounted spoiler at the rear is a cool touch that needs to be seen up close to be appreciated.
First Drive: The 2022 Kia EV6 Is The New EV Benchmark
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Still, we wonder if Kia has done enough to make people aware of just how special this car is. The only external dead giveaway, other than the small GT badge in the back, is the green brake calipers at each corner. That name, GT, might not be bold enough either as online searches will show that this car and the GT-Line get confused by people all over the place. Perhaps Kia will allow owners to spec different colored calipers in the future but for now, it won’t say.
A Sporty Interior
The inside of the EV6 GT isn’t far afield from the rest of the lineup either. There are some notable changes that are almost all positive. Kia has added impressive green stitching to match the green calipers and the green GT button on the steering wheel. The capacitive touch buttons at the end of the center console have been swapped out in favor of physical push buttons and that’s a big plus. Gone are the days of accidentally enabling them with your wrist while you work with the climate control.
Spatially, the EV6 GT loses none of its interior cabin capacity compared to the rest of the lineup. The headroom is great in the front seats and not bad in the back. Taller drivers will struggle in the rear seats and forget about using this thing with a helmet on in the front. I had to lean way back to have my head straight up in the track testing portions of the drive. Still, it’s a very comfortable car in terms of space. In the back seat, I had more than enough room to stretch out.
Cargo space is great too. While the EV6 might look like a tall sedan, it has a cavernous boot. With the seats in place, it features 24.4 cubic feet in the back. Drop those seats down and that figure expands to 50.2 cubic feet.
The only pain point in the GT is the front seating situation. We love the added bolstering and their general shape. They are fantastic on a track. Still, we wonder how many buyers will be content with giving up lumbar support, ventilation, and power adjustability compared to the buckets in the GT-Line. It’s a tradeoff that we’d happily make but it would be nice for Kia to at least offer a different seat for those that want the luxuries.
Tech Enabling Multiple Cars In One
Kia doesn’t add much in the way of special tech to the EV6 GT compared to the rest of the lineup. Dual 12.3-inch screens make up the infotainment system and the driver information display while a heads-up display utilizes augmented reality to improve the driving experience. Where the GT stands out from its other stablemates is with regard to driving modes, of which it has five.
Turn the car on and it’ll be in ‘Normal’ mode by default. In this setting, the EV6 GT makes 429 hp (320 kW). Push the mode button and it’ll jump into Eco mode where power gets dialed down to 286 hp (214 kW). Hit it again and you’ll get Sport mode. Power goes back to where it was in Normal mode but the steering and suspension get tighter for a more direct feel.
Press the green GT button on the bottom right-hand side of the steering wheel and you’ll get the full-fat 576 hp (429 kW) experience complete with even tighter steering and suspension behavior as well as special sport-oriented settings for the electronic limited-slip differential and the electronic stability control. Traction control takes a holiday in GT mode. Finally, there’s ‘My Drive’ mode which allows the user to pick and choose which settings from which features they’d prefer.
High-Performance Lowers Range To 206 Miles
Gearheads have been trading performance for range for decades and that’s the same in the EV6 GT. Instead of the 252-mile (406 km) range found in the GT-Line trim, the GT, with the same 77.4 kWh battery pack drops down to just 206 miles (332 km) when full. That’s still more than the average driver will need during a normal day but it’s low enough that we bet some will be put off simply because of that.
Of course, Kia’s answer to those concerned about range is that it can charge much faster than the competition. It says that the EV6 GT will go from 10 percent to 80 in just 18 minutes when hooked up to a DC fast charger. That’s much faster than Tesla or Ford can accomplish. Every EV6 GT also comes with 1,000 kWh of fast charging from Electrify America.
We can confirm that it’ll get close to that range if you’re not beating on it constantly. Our total travel for the day was around 150 miles and we had about 25 remaining when we pulled into the garage at our final destination. Sure, that’s down about 30 miles from its range estimate but that number isn’t factoring in the kind of abuse that we threw at it. It’s worth noting that below 70 percent state of charge, the EV6 GT loses performance on a curve. Near the end of the day, it was noticeably slower than at the beginning.
How Fast Is It?
The whole point of the EV6 GT is to be an outright performance flagship and to that end, it accomplishes the task quite nicely. Think of it this way, the Lamborghini Urus is a five-seat super SUV that can do 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds and dispatch a quarter of a mile in 11.3 seconds. The $61,400 EV6 GT comes in about $164,000 less than the Lambo and can nearly match those performance figures.
Kia says that the EV6 GT is probably faster than its official 3.4-second 0-60 time and while we couldn’t confirm that, we do know a lot more about how it handles itself on a race track. For an entire afternoon, we had the chance to drive the EV6 GT on both the outside road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and also on ‘The Strip’, the compound’s full quarter-mile drag strip. It was not a boring day.
First and foremost, on The Strip, the EV6 GT is a bit shocking, and perhaps not in the way one might assume. The insane instant torque provided by high-performance EVs is still impressive, sure, but it’s lost a bit of its novelty now that so many automakers have an offering that can do that same trick. The EV6 GT isn’t the fastest or most extreme, though it’s probably one of the best bang-for-your-buck EV drag racers on the market today.
More: What Do You Want To Know About The 575HP 2023 Kia EV6 GT?
It was unflappable in our drag race testing. Pass after pass resulted in mid-11-second times with the best of the bunch dipped to 11.469. We didn’t have a chance to test it below a 70 percent state of charge but down to about 80 percent, it was still pulling as though it were topped up. That’s considerably faster than a Tesla Model Y Performance, a Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, and the Jaguar I-Pace.
It’s also more resilient as each of those three rivals tends to experience a bigger performance drop-off more quickly. Our first pass resulted in an ET of 12.1 seconds at 116.94 mph (188.2 km/h). Every other run was at least an 11.535 if not slightly quicker. Our last run of the day was 11.534 at 118.43 mph (190.6 km/h). Smoking supercars in the EV6 GT is as easy as hitting the GT button and mashing the go pedal.
How Was It On The Las Vegas Motor Speedway?
While setting nearly identical times on the drag strip was an easy affair in the EV6 GT, laying down similar lap times on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway outside road course was a different story. The GT utilizes regenerative braking up to .6-Gs and supplements braking performance with the actual 15-inch front and 14.2-inch rear brake discs. On track, modulating that balance took some getting used to.
Stomp on those brakes before a turn and the EV6 GT produces satisfying and powerful performance. It’s almost too sensitive on the initial tip-in. Overcook a turn and attempt some trail braking though and it’s much harder to dial in. On top of that, the EV6 isn’t a light car. It tips the scales at a hefty 4,795 pounds (2,175 kg). All of that mass and the somewhat steep learning curve of the braking system means that multiple laps are needed to get a proper feel for creating clean laps in the GT.
What’s great about it though is that from the moment you pull out of the pit lane, it’s fun and mostly approachable. The steering feedback is great and the only understeer we experienced was as the result of pushing speeds too high too deeply into corners. Slow things down to the right entry speed and the EV6 GT responds with balanced turn-in and smooth stable cornering behavior.
Kia has set up the GT with its own bespoke suspension system, electronically controlled adaptive dampers, revised spring rates, and re-tuned steering. All of those pieces help the GT maintain stability at high speeds which is great because it will happily pull hard above 120 mph (193 km/h). We can’t say that for all the performance EV crossovers out there.
Once comfortable, you can carry a little more speed through turns by turning in a little early. The car rotates nicely and then the real fun begins. It’s supremely good at exiting corners with gusto. Of course, it should be thanks to electric motors and AWD but unlike some of its rivals, the EV6 GT doesn’t dampen the fun when it detects a bit of wheel spin. It allows the driver to put the hammer down and that adds to the engagement. Smoky power slides aren’t out of the question either thanks in part to an electronic limited-slip rear differential.
Mastering the performance capability of the EV6 GT on a road course takes time and practice. It’s still approachable, just like the EV6 GT-Line, but it’s fast enough that drivers have to give it more respect. We love that balance.
On The Road
What the EV6 GT does on the track is one thing but we don’t necessarily expect to see these things popping up at track days across the nation anytime soon. Where most will be used is on the road and to that end, it’s important to recognize that the performance capability of this car has brought with it some real compromises in terms of everyday comfort.
Much like we found in the normal EV6, the general driving experience is very refined. The ride though, even in Eco mode is a bit rougher than in the rest of the lineup. We think that comes down to a number of components including the 21-inch wheels, the low-profile tires, the GT-specific suspension components, and maybe more. As a result, it’s a little louder in the cabin too.
We suggest setting it up in custom ‘My Drive’ mode with everything dialed to 11 except the suspension. Leave that in normal mode. It’s still sharp and fun to drive but it’ll punish you less when the road isn’t perfect. According to executives at Kia, that’s the way that former head of R&D Albert Biermann likes to set up the EV6 GT.
They called this car his swan song and it’s easy to see why. Biermann deserves his fair share of credit for taking Kia from where it was about a decade ago and lifted it up into the space where it now resides from a performance standpoint. The N line-up, the Stinger GT, and this EV6 GT all got the green light in part thanks to Biermann.
The Mustang Mach-E GT is probably the closest direct competitor to the EV6 GT but there are tradeoffs on both ends. At its quickest, the Mach-E GT is still about a second slower than the Kia in a quarter-mile drag race. Around a track, the gap is even wider since the Kia benefits from more power and a lower center of gravity. In terms of practicality, the Mustang wins thanks to extra cargo space and a more comfortable ride. At the same time, the Ford costs more and charges slower.
Tesla could stack the Model Y Performance or Model 3 Performance against the EV6 too. Each of the three has something to brag about compared to the other two. The EV6 GT is cheaper ($61k vs $63+). It’s more spacious and practical than the Model 3 but not as quick nor does it have as much range. The Kia also doesn’t handle as well as a Model 3 Performance. It’s faster than a Model Y Performance and much cheaper but again, misses out on the range equation.
Staking Its Flag In The Ground
Kia didn’t need to build the EV6 GT. It could’ve continued to focus on the numerous other projects that it has in the works. Instead, it brought us the most powerful and best-performing Kia in history. No, it’s not a perfect car, and Kia will need to continue refining it to keep it among the best in the business but for now, it’s a true flagship performance model that’s also a competent family car. It’s a little rawer and it requires real skill to hustle it around a track. It’s also priced low enough that we seriously expect a number of Ford and Tesla buyers to make the leap to Kia.