Up until now, electric performance cars have tended to lean in one of two directions. On one hand, you have the likes of Tesla, which in truly American fashion behave like zero-emissions hot rodders, adding big power to its undoubtedly impressive cars, but without adding the sort of tweaked suspension you’d expect from a European offering. As for the Europeans, the Polestar 2 Dual Motor Performance Pack adds in some hardcore manually-adjustable dampers and Brembo brakes to help it corner and stop like a sports saloon should, but while it is quick, it’ll still be savaged in a straight line by a Tesla Model 3 Performance.
However, there is one car that finally marries these two approaches to making an electric performance car in one – the 2023 Kia EV6 GT. Priced from $99,590 before on-road costs, this new range-topping variant promises gargantuan power and sophisticated dynamics bundled together in an attractive, futuristic package.
Previously, we’ve taken a look at both the GT-Line RWD and AWD variants of the EV6, and each offered the same sporty styling as this GT model but with decidedly different characters – the RWD model prone to serving up some grin-inducing powerslides to accompany its impressive driving range, while the AWD variant felt more in line with typical performance EVs thus far such as the Polestar 2 mentioned above. If ever you’ve feared that electric vehicles would all feel devoid of character, this GT model yet again offers a completely different personality for the EV6.
Compared to the GT-Line models, the full-fat GT sits 5mm lower and on larger 21-inch alloys shod in sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber, and behind them sits a set of Neon Green brake calipers which signal this variant’s unique colour palette. There are five exterior colours on offer, but for the GT model, this Moonscape Matte has to be the top choice.
Peer inside the cabin and you’ll see the Neon Green theme extended, with extensive stitching and piping in this bold colour, along with an unmissable ‘GT mode’ button on the steering wheel finished in an anodised version of it.
While the stylish dashboard layout carries over from GT-Line variants – including its dual curved 12.3-inch displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system (which still lacks wireless Apple CarPlay so you’ll need to bring a cord), along with its touchscreen climate controls – the unmissable highlight of this cabin are the deeply sculpted two-piece suede bucket seats. Between the amount of thigh, side, and shoulder bolstering they offer and the fact it ditches the electric seat adjusters for manual ones, there are few performance cars that offer seats quite this good, albeit this firm when it comes to daily driving duties.
Beyond the downgrade to manual adjustment, you do lose the GT-Line’s ventilation feature for the front seats, but all four outboard seats are still heated, as is the steering wheel. Despite culling these features in the name of weight saving, the EV6 GT tips the scales 80kg higher than the GT-Line AWD. Mind you, most of the in-cabin luxuries are retained, including the big sunroof, 14-speaker Meridian audio system, acoustic glass to reduce wind noise, and a powered tailgate.
It’s under the skin where all the big changes are, though, chief among which is the added power courtesy of its two electric motors. Churning out a mammoth 430kW and 740Nm, it serves up 80 percent more power and 22 percent more torque than the GT-Line AWD, helping it get from 0-100km/h in a mere 3.5 seconds – a drastic 1.7-second improvement.
What’s clever, though, is the way the EV6 delivers its power. Unlike in a Tesla where you’re doled out every ounce of available torque right off the line which sends your spleen into the back seat, the EV6 GT shows a worthwhile hint of restraint off the line. While there’s still a huge rush of torque to be felt as you plant the accelerator pedal into the carpet, it holds a little bit back for a very brief moment before feeding it in, giving its acceleration a far more progressive feel. All of the smiles, none of the sickness in your stomach.
As a result of this clever gearing and throttle tuning – or at least that’s what you’d call it in a petrol car – this keeps steaming ahead like a freight train, rather than fizzling out by the time you reach triple-digit speeds. Throw it at a more technical stretch of road rather than in a straight line, and this tuning helps it feel more manageable and responsive, too.
Keeping it shackled to the road is its upgraded electronically-controlled suspension which not only sits it lower to the ground but adds double ball joints to its front MacPherson struts. There’s also a unique steering ratio which is shorter, dropping from 2.67 turns lock-to-lock to 2.3 turns. The standard EV6 variants’ 325mm disc brakes have also been swapped out for larger 380mm front and 365mm rear vented discs to help it stop just as quickly as it can get off the mark.
And, of course, there’s its vast array of drive modes. There’s the standard Eco, Normal, and Sport modes you get in the GT-Line AWD, and to be honest, it feels almost exactly like the GT-Line AWD in those settings, meaning the ride feels supple and the power delivery is potent but not overwhelming. However, hit the bright green button to put it into GT mode and its sinew tenses, transforming it from any old EV into a properly hardcore performance car.
Despite its 2185kg heft, the tinkering Kia has done to the EV6’s suspension – which includes a unique locally-developed tune for the Australian market – helps the GT handle remarkably for its size. Braking confidently on entry, remaining flat as you like through corners, and applying its power to the road confidently thanks to its electronic limited-slip differential, you’d never know it was this heavy from behind the wheel.
Despite the grippy treads, it even has a slight tendency towards oversteer which can induce a few giggles, although it’s utterly controllable thanks to its new steering rack which is a delight on a winding road, although not so much in a carpark as its turning circle is now akin to Jupiter’s.
Of course, driving it like this will chew through the battery like a performance car of yesteryear would guzzle through petrol, but all told it’s range is actually quite acceptable. Fitted with the same 77.4kWh battery pack as all other EV6 variants, Kia claims energy consumption of 20.6kWh/100km and range of 424km for the GT model. I saw an indicated 21.0kWh/100km during my 627km of testing, allowing for 368km per charge which isn’t bad at all considering how often I was stomping on the accelerator.
As with all Kia models, the EV6 GT is covered by a seven-year unlimited kilometre warranty, although the battery and other high voltage components are only warrantied for seven years/150,000km. Up to eight years of complimentary roadside assistance is also offered so long as you service it at a Kia dealer.
Kia offers three pre-paid servicing packs for the EV6 GT, rather than typical per-visit capped-price servicing, costing $733 for three years of servicing, $1371 for five years, and $2013 for the full seven-year warranty period. Do be aware, though, that because of the GT’s bigger brakes and other upgrades, servicing is more expensive than for other EV6 variants.
While the EV6 was already a very good car and one of the finest EVs on the market currently, Kia has stepped it up to new heights with the GT model. It might be an overplayed trope to wheel out Kia’s humble economy-car origins, but to see the company put out a performance car this incredible – let alone a fully-electric one – speaks volumes of the company’s abilities.
Already, it’s been named 2023 World Performance Car at the World Car Awards which is a testament to just what an astonishing vehicle Kia has made here. From the styling to the interior to the way it drives and shoots off in a straight line, it’s a car that ticks just about every box.
No car is faultless in every regard, but the EV6 GT comes extremely close to it. Soften up the admittedly track-ready bucket seat, get a tiny bit more range out of it, and add in wireless CarPlay and it might just be. Kia, you’ve knocked it out of the park with this one.
2023 Kia EV6 GT List Price: $99,590
- Performance - 9.5/109.5/10
- Ride & Handling - 9/109/10
- Tech & Features - 8.5/108.5/10
- Practicality - 8/108/10
- Value for Money - 8.5/108.5/10
Pros: Incredible performance with clever power delivery, excellent local suspension tuning, still scores all the usual interior luxuries of other EV6 variants, it looks and feels special like a performance car should
Cons: Hilariously wide turning circle, bucket seats are supportive but a bit firm for the daily drive, you’ll still need a cable for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
Photography by Marcus Cardone and Patrick Jackson.
Full Disclosure: The vehicle tested here was provided by Kia Motors Australia for a week with a full charge upon delivery. All additional charging expenses were covered by the author.
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