The Kia EV6 is a great car. It’s reasonably priced, comfortable, offers as much as 310 miles of range and looks cool with its big ol’ ducktail on the back. But Kia knows it’s not enough to just be a good all-rounder in a world of high-performance electric cars. No, you’ve gotta be quick, too. Hence the introduction of Kia’s new halo electric car, the EV6 GT.
The EV6 GT is broadly similar to the GT Line model directly below it, but where it differs primarily is in the drivetrain. The GT takes the rear drive unit from the GT Line and puts it on the EV6’s front axle. Kia then adds a more powerful drive unit to the GT’s rear axle, which brings the EV to a maximum output of 576 hp and 545 lb-ft of torque – improvements of 256 hp and 99 lb-ft compared to the GT Line. Kia also gave the GT a new chassis tune complete with adaptive dampers, as well as a set of Goodyear Eagle F1 summer tires and 21-inch wheels, all of which attempt to make the EV6 a speed machine. But it’s not entirely successful.
Yes, with its 3.4-second 0-to-60-mph time and 161-mph top speed, the EV6 GT gives you a lot of straight-line performance for your money. Problem is, the chassis can’t quite handle the GT’s newfound power. The adaptive damping offers good overall ride comfort, yet even in its stiffest setting, the chassis struggles to control the GT’s 5,732-pound bulk when trying to hustle around corners. Throughout a day testing in and around Las Vegas, I’m never really comfortable pushing this car.
The EV6 GT doesn’t exactly embarrass itself, but it never feels settled or planted. On top of that, the Goodyear Eagle F1 tires scream their guts out at the slightest whiff of aggressive turn-in or throttle application. Kind of like the Kia Stinger, the EV6 GT is a quick, powerful grand-ish touring machine, but not a sports car.
Among the other features that set the EV6 GT apart from its more sedate siblings is a new drive setting, unimaginatively called GT Mode. Available at the push of a button, GT Mode gives drivers access to the GT’s full 576 hp when you have more than 70 percent battery charge, and then tapers it off from there. That’s right, according to Kia, you only get 287 hp when driving in Eco mode and 430 hp in Normal and Sport modes.
More importantly, activating GT Mode also gives you an extra 0.2 g of regenerative braking force to play with. The standard modes give 0.4 g of braking force, so the additional energy recuperation is noticeable on a spirited drive and should help extend the life of the mechanical brakes.
When it initially launched last year, the EV6 lacked a battery preconditioning feature to help speed up DC fast charging times. Kia added this feature on the GT, but the bad news is that it’s tied to the car’s navigation system. Put a fast-charge station into your nav system and the car will know that you want to charge, and will start preconditioning the battery at the appropriate time. But what if you want to use the nav software built into Apple CarPlay or Android Auto? You’re out of luck for now.
Standard neon green brake calipers and interior accents are the biggest visual differentiators between the EV6 GT and lesser trims. Also exclusive to the GT are some well-bolstered sport bucket seats, which are great for keeping you upright and stable on a track, but aren’t chairs I’d want to have on a long road trip. These seats are a little narrow and stiff, and I’d like a lower seating position. It’s an oddly tall and upright setup for a sporty car, but then again, the EV6 GT is just a quicker-than-normal electric crossover.
Kia is asking $62,695 for the 2023 EV6 GT, including $1,295 for destination. While it’s certainly not a bad car, I have to ask: Who is this for? Will the average electric CUV buyer miss the GT’s 576 hp? On a day-to-day basis, probably not, because all EVs are exciting and quick off the line. Instead, buyers are a lot more likely to miss the 46 miles of range that the GT loses compared to the AWD GT Line, and they’ll definitely notice the 104-mile drop between a RWD GT Line and the AWD-only GT. Don’t forget, the GT is also $4,000 more expensive than an AWD GT Line, too.
The bottom line is that Kia built something exciting: The quickest and most powerful production car in the brand’s history. But it’s not in the sort of package you might expect. The EV6 GT isn’t a bad car – far from it – but it’s not good enough to justify the range and price sacrifices that the horsepower demands.