What is it?
Launched last year, the Kia EV6 is the company’s new flagship, taking over from the retiring Stinger, with this electric fastback-come-SUV being representative of the future direction for the brand. While we’ve already taken a look at the GT-Line AWD model last year and will be testing the new GT range-topper in the coming months, here, we’re looking at the middle of the range GT-Line RWD model which is priced from $79,590 before on-road costs.
Why are we testing it?
Having been so enamoured by the GT-Line AWD model – which you can read our review of here – Kia suggested it might be worthwhile getting behind the wheel of this EV6 GT-Line RWD to see how it compares. Given how similar the two are in terms of specification, that had us intrigued.
What’s different between the GT-Line RWD and AWD?
Aside from it missing out on the AWD model’s sunroof, the GT-Line RWD is virtually indistinguishable from its all-paw sibling. It wears the same futuristic bodywork that’s utterly distinctive with a particularly aggressive front clip, along with the same aerodynamic 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels. Like the GT model, the GT-Line wears a 15mm longer and 10mm wider body than the base EV6 Air which adds to the sportiness of its styling.
Inside, both GT-Line models are identical with the same twin 12.3-inch curved displays, digital climate control panel, augmented reality head-up display, 14-speaker Meridian audio system, heated and ventilated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, and artificial black suede and white vegan leather upholstery. It also still features the remote parking function which allows you to move it forwards and backwards using buttons on the key fob without sitting inside the car.
Like the GT-Line AWD, the GT-Line RWD has a 480-litre boot with a powered tailgate. However, the RWD model features a larger 52-litre ‘frunk’ under the bonnet, compared to 20 litres in the AWD model. Both have a 1600kg braked towing capacity.
Safety equipment is unchanged, with both EV6 GT-Line models featuring Level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot monitoring with blind-spot view monitor cameras and safe exit warning for when a car is approaching while parked kerbside, 360-degree surround view camera with a 3D view mode, and automatic LED headlights with high beam assist.
What’s powering the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD?
In the GT-Line RWD model, just one electric motor is used – the same one you’ll find in the base EV6 Air – which produces 168kW and 350Nm and drives the rear wheels alone through a single-speed reduction gear with a 10.65:1 ratio. Kia claims the EV6 GT-Line RWD can get from 0-100km/h in 7.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 185km/h – 3km/h less than the AWD model. Like all EV6 variants, it uses a 77.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack.
What’s the 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD like to drive?
It’s brilliantly fun – but that shouldn’t entirely be a surprise. With the same locally-tuned sports suspension as the AWD model, the EV6 displays excellent body control with minimal body roll, responsive steering, and a composed ride that feels sporty and comfortable in ideal equal measures.
Where it differs, of course, is in this RWD model being less powerful. It’s not that it’s slow by any stretch, with it serving up a confident mass of low-end torque off the line, but it’s hardly the same rocket as its AWD sibling. However, what this allows you to do is access and use more of the power more of the time – you can keep the accelerator pedal (handily featuring a big plus symbol on it) buried in the carpet without fear of losing your license.
Don’t think for a second, though, that the power deficit means this isn’t a fun car to drive because despite it being so similar to the AWD model in most regards, the biggest difference is that the GT-Line RWD loves to get sideways. Combine its phenomenal suspension tuning, long wheelbase, responsive electric power delivery, perfectly-weighted steering, and of course rear-wheel drive, and what you have right there is a recipe for fun.
Initiating a slide is easy thanks to the low centre of gravity and suspension composure, while controlling it with the throttle is also a doddle, and its 2900mm wheelbase makes easing out of a slide more forgiving on the other side. People know that the Kia Stinger loved to get sideways, but even though it’s going away, that same DNA is clearly present here. In contrast, the EV6 GT-Line AWD is an absolute grip monster, meaning these identical twins have rather different personalities when shown a twisty road.
Of course, it’s not an entirely raucous thing, as while you can easily drive it like a loon by default it feels more relaxed. In traffic or on the highway, it’s quiet, comfortable, and offers a truly European level of refinement. It’s no shocker to hear, sure, but in case you had been wondering, the EV6 GT-Line RWD is brilliant.
How do the numbers add up?
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD sits in a bit of an interesting spot in the market when it comes to price. On one hand, it costs $10,290 more than the Tesla Model Y RWD which would be its closest rival. The Tesla definitely offers more advanced and intuitive technology, but the EV6 is definitely the better car to drive and offers a much longer warranty with seven years of unlimited-kilometre coverage. The GT-Line RWD also saves $8000 over the AWD model, and makes it much cheaper than the base Genesis GV60.
What’s also very impressive is how efficient this RWD model is. I managed to slightly better the AWD model’s energy consumption claim, but in this I smashed it. Kia claims energy consumption of 17.2kWh/100km, but I used just 15.9kWh/100km over the course of 590km of driving. At that rate, it would allow for just under 487km of driving range – not far off Kia’s impressive 504km claim.
Kia offers three servicing packages for the EV6, with three years of servicing priced at $594, five years at $1089, and seven years for $1584. Kia includes 12 months of complimentary roadside assistance after each service as well. Servicing is required every 12 months/10,000km.
So, what’s the verdict?
Given how enamoured we were with the GT-Line AWD, it’s no surprise that the GT-Line RWD is a fantastic car to drive. What was a surprise, though, is just how different a character it takes upon itself. It might look the same, be almost identical inside, and share the same brilliant suspension and dynamics, but the thrills they offer you behind the wheel are undoubtedly different.
In a way, this makes the EV6 GT-Line RWD a great compromise. Offering the same impressive range and efficiency as the Air, all the top-spec bells and whistles, and an exciting and unique handling package, it might just be the smartest choice in the range when all factors are taken into consideration.
It’s a variant that might be easy to overlook in the middle of the EV6 range but it absolutely shouldn’t be. Without a doubt, this is one seriously impressive car.
2023 Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD List Price: $79,590
- Performance - 7.5/107.5/10
- Ride & Handling - 8.5/108.5/10
- Tech & Features - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 9/109/10
- Value for Money - 8/108/10
Pros: Impressive range, playful tail-happy handling, thoughtful and practical driver-centric interior design, sporty design
Cons: Loses the AWD model’s straight line punch, the EV6’s tech is outclassed by the Model Y
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Kia Motors Australia for a week with a full charge upon delivery.