by Ian Wright
The Kia EV6 is an athletic, stylish, four-door crossover that starts at just under $50,000 and does almost everything right.
As standard, its rear-wheel drive with its single motor making 225 horsepower. Configured with all-wheel drive, the EV6 packs a more than respectable 320 hp. Given it handles well out of the box and more power can be made at the expense of range, a performance model makes sense. Kia has not messed around with additional power, and the GT model comes in as Kia's fastest vehicle yet by a long shot.
With a change of motors and some enthusiastic tweaking, the EV6 GT generates a supercar level 576 hp with an instant 545 lb-ft of torque. There's more to the EV6 than just gobs of power, though.
To take a closer look, we took ourselves to Las Vegas to drive the canyons of Nevada, take it for a spin around a track, and a couple of runs down a drag strip. If you want a review of the EV6 as a practical vehicle, check out our review here. For this review, we're going to focus on the changes and performance of the GT trim.
See trim levels and configurations:
Single Speed Automatic
To create 576 hp and 545 lb-ft of torque, Kia took the more powerful rear motor from the AWD model and put it in the front, then put a more powerful motor in the back as the EV6 GT is rear-biased. That means it has a 160-kilowatt front motor and 270-kW rear motor and a maximum combined output of 430 kW.
The battery remains the same (77.4-kWh with an 800-volt multi-charging architecture), so it still can be charged at a high rate, but the range drops to just over 200 miles. Kia says it can do 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds, but it claims that's conservative. After driving it, our trouser seat dyno believes that's the case. It's fast. Kick you back in the chair fast.
The drive modes have expanded to include GT on top of Eco, Normal, and Sport. Eco gives 214 kW of output from the motors and softer throttle input, while Normal and Sport give 320 kW. GT mode gives the maximum 430 kW with the sharpest throttle response.
There is a caveat, though. Below 80 percent battery capacity, the power is dropped. Kia wouldn't tell us by how much, to the point of being cagey, but our butt dyno says it's not a significant drop-off.
On the outside, the EV6 gets sportier front and rear fascias, neon accents from the monoblock brake calipers, and 21-inch wheels wrapped in Z-rated Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. There's also a practical rear spoiler and rear diffuser, which complement the existing body well.
Inside, there's neon stitching, and the dash and front armrest have a modern, sporty pattern. The steering wheel gains a neon button for GT mode, but sporty bucket front seats are the most significant upgrade. They might not be as lightweight as buckets from, say, Porsche, but they are comfortable and do an excellent job of keeping driver and passenger in place when things get hectic while also being comfortable for grand touring.
The seats are manual adjustment only, in contrast to the fully-loaded mindset of the rest of the interior.
Off the line in GT mode, the EV6 GT mode punches hard, pushing you back in the seat and delivering that hint of internal discomfort that usually means you're in a particularly hairy supercar.
Before heading to the track and drag strip, we took the EV6 through Nevada's Valley Of Fire and paid particular attention to the adaptive suspension. In Normal mode, you wouldn't think you were in something explosively fast; Sport mode keeps everything flat through long fast corners, but ride quality stays surprisingly smooth, and GT mode is much the same.
It's a car you can grand tour in, assuming there are chargers that work on your route. Compared to the non-GT models, there's not a massive drop in comfort- just a huge upgrade in performance. We didn't test the chassis much in corners until we got to the track.
We appreciated how Kia set up the track driving part of our day with the EV6 GT, sending us out on lead-follow laps with instructors that knew the track. As we got to know the track, the speeds were increasing.
The first conclusion we reached was that the brakes, even with full regeneration applied, could use an upgrade for the track when you want to brake as late and hard as possible. The car wasn't as stable as we would like under such intense braking, but the lack of diving from the chassis on a car weighing 4,795 pounds is a testament to the development of the suspension.
The same goes for squats under acceleration. It started to feel like it didn't matter how early we piled on the power out of the steeper corners; the electronic differential wasn't bothered, and the shift in the balance of power between the front and rear motors. The back might drift out a bit, but even when we decided to be silly with how early we came on power, the EV6 GT's electronics kept things ridiculously stable without feeling like it was bogging down.
The biggest weak link on the track is the tires. It was easy to get them on the edge of traction, but the suspension and differential setup allowed us to keep on the edge.
Even when we pushed the lead driver to put in a fast lap, that put us at ten-tenths. The lead driver could have been sipping on a latte, for all we know. We're not track heroes, but the EV6 GT made us feel as such with how controllable it is on the limit. It's no supercar that's going to lay down the fastest time of the day, but the EV6 GT is an absolute hoot on the track. Of course, you could put stickier rubber on it would reduce the EV6 GT's range.
On the drag strip and with no cops to look out for, we laid down an 11.662-second quarter mile at 117.81 mph. Unfortunately, that's with an embarrassingly slow 1.139-second response time. It was also late in the day, so the tarmac was cold, and the tires had not adequately warmed up, meaning a driver with quicker reflexes on a warmer surface could likely get in the 10s.
If you want to shred tires and behave like a hooligan, Kia has slipped in HDM (Hidden Drift Mode) and HDM+ (Hidden Drift Mode +). Presumably, they're hidden so people borrowing the car won't go nuts. Once you're into them, though, up to 100 percent of the torque goes to the rear wheels, and shenanigans ensue.
In HDM, rear bias increases from 20 percent entering a corner to 50 percent mid-corner and 70 percent on exit. In HDM+, you start at 70 percent and exit at 100 percent to the rear, and it's all based on the throttle and steering input signals.
In theory, you should be able to execute perfect drifts with some skill. In reality, we had fun watching other journalists spin out before realizing they would still have to concentrate and use previously learned skills. By other journalists, we mean us.
Before we dig in, let's look at how Kia tried selling the GT6 to us and the reality.
Kia tried to sell us on the value proposition versus supercars and hypercars, bringing up the fact it's quicker than several supercars, including the Pagani Huayra. That's true if you like driving in a straight line fast, but you'll notice Ferrari, Lamborghini, and so on don't show their cars off on the drag strip.
Sure, the EV6 GT will out-drag some supercars and older hypercars, but all of them will drop the EV6 GT at the first corner. The 0-60 mph time of those cars is a side effect of them being all-around dedicated performance cars, which the EV6 GT is not.
It's an excellent marketing line, but it's not fooling anyone. We already know electric cars can make a lot of power relatively easily. Kia isn't inventing fast EVs here. Tesla, Polestar, Ford, and more recently, Rivian, and even the monstrously heavy GMC Hummer can lay down a hot run at the drag strip. The last two are trucks. That's how easy it is to make immense power with electric motors.
In other words, we don't accept that the EV6 GT is breaking any mold by being fast in a straight line. Kia sprinkles too much sugar on the cake, which is a disservice because it's a delicious cake.
For just over $60,000, the EV6 GT is a lot of car for the money. It'll hit 60 mph in around three seconds, is a lot of fun to toss around at the track or on a back road, still pulls 200 miles of range, which is plenty for the vast majority of people, and is easy to live with, useful crossover.
That's quite the package, and the value for money is right there. If you wanted to sacrifice some range for extra grip, changing tires would favor the EV6 GT considerably. If you don't want to sacrifice range, it's a lot of fun to drive and shows you don't need to sacrifice speed and fun with an EV.
In that respect, it outdoes the Tesla Model Y Performance and Ford Mach-E GT on fun, speed, and price. Those are its natural competitors, and at first bat, the EV6 GT should be a wake-up call to both. Hopefully, a whole week's test drive will cement that opinion.
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