Congratulations. And thank you for clicking on this story. No doubt, you are a discerning car enthusiast, and on this page is a car that, despite their best efforts, comes from a company known more for economy than enthusiasm. Now that you’re here, let’s cut to the chase: the Kia EV6 GT is faster than a Porsche Taycan 4S. And a Mustang Mach-E GT Performance. Oh, and a BMW i4 M50i. Forget anything powered by dinosaurs.
Now that I have your attention, let’s see how we can keep it.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT Overview
Being a kid of the 90s means I have certain automotive prejudices that are difficult to overcome. No matter how good they make a Mustang now, a part of me always recalls those 90’s jellybeans and thinks “yea, right.” But as a reviewer, I can’t really allow my past to dictate my future. Otherwise, I’d just be writing in circles.
And the Kia EV6 GT makes you leave the past quickly. It has a chassis that enables it to feel M2-nimble. Its steering provides some of the best feedback I’ve gotten out of a modern car. 15-inch brakes are what come on a Range Rover. And there’s just no denying 576 horsepower that’s always there. No waiting to rev, no torque curve. Just power everywhere.
To drive this car is to re-calibrate both how you drive and your expectations of what a fun performance car should be.
Performance Score: 10. Hit it, Mister Sulu
Quite some time ago, Kia began recruiting people from places of automotive royalty. Designers from Audi. Engineers from BMW. People that know their stuff. As a result, the days of the Rio are long gone. This is not a cheap car, nor does it present as such. And it starts from the ground up.
Inside the EV6 are two permanent-magnet AC motors. The front has 215 horses, the rear 362. Combine them for a total of 576, along with 546 lb-ft of torque.
There are a lot of things to figure out here, and the first is how much power you need. Choose four modes via the steering wheel buttons. We have Eco, where the car limits output to 288 and feels a bit sluggish. I didn’t find the range savings to be worth it. Up next are Normal and Sport modes, giving you access to 460 horses. Finally, there is the highlighter-yellow GT button. Press that (the cabin lighting turns that same shade of yellow), and you have every horse ready to rumble.
Punch it from a stop light, and you’re at 60 in 3.2 seconds. Tunnel vision starts to form. Stay in it for an 11.4-second quarter mile. Yes, this is almost a 10-second car. Throttle tip-in is nice and easy, regardless of the mode, making the car easy to launch. Kia gives you the option of three different “engine” noises, all futuristic, like you’re driving around as an extra in Demolition Man. It’s cool, but no substitute for real motor vroom.
A favorite engine of mine, the S65, could spin at a rate of 8,200 RPMs. The electric motor in the EV6 GT goes up to 20,000. Here is effortless speed, more so than in any other car I’ve been in.
If you’ve never driven an electric car before, I can describe the sensation a bit like a vehicle equipped with a CVT, or Continuously Variable Transmission. But the effect here is no where near as crude or simplistic. This direct-drive powertrain distributes power via an eLSD to all four wheels. The EV6 pulls out of corners with zero effort.
Behind the steering wheel are two paddles that do not shift. Instead, they control the amount of brake regeneration the GT provides. Turn it off, and the car coasts as any other. But tap the left paddle, and you access “i-pedal”, with three different levels to regen. Lift off the throttle, and the car tugs as if it’s engine braking, recharging the power pack and extending your range.
While max mode is a bit much, sometimes causing you to stop before you reach that red light, you’ll soon learn how to adjust and almost never need the brakes in normal driving.
Steering and Chassis
Least you think this Kia EV6 GT is a one-trick pony, this thing handles in defiance of gravity.
Start with the flat-bottom steering wheel, and a short nose that’s easy to see from the cockpit. Turn the wheel, and the GT responds almost instantly, providing you with excellent feedback and a clear idea of what the tires are up to. It’s Porsche-good. Though the car had winter tires on it, I’d swap ’em for summers ASAP. This needs a set of delicious Michelin PS4 meats. Yum.
What’s tied to the steering is a chassis that’s aided by the low center of gravity an electric car provides. Though it weighs in at over 4,700 pounds, it feels as light as my M3. The ride is perhaps a wee bit stiff, but electronic dampers that provide three settings offer a nice balance. As usual, the mid-range stiffness settings is just about right. Struts in front and a multilink rear setup keep the car incredibly well-balanced, even on the most aggressive on-ramps.
The point to take away from here is that electric or not, a car’s suspension is easy to screw up. That’s very much not the case for the Kia EV6 GT.
Neon yellow four-pot calipers poke through 21-inch wheels to provide a keep on steppin’ look to surrounding traffic. 15-inch front discs are big but not particularly fancy, no cross-drilling or carbon ceramics here. I doubt you need them, because despite the car’s weight, there’s enough surface to the rotors to help dissipate the heat. And remember that brake regeneration feature – this set of rotors and pads should last you quite a while.
The point of all this power, dear reader, is to tell you that there’s a soul here. If anyone doubts it, strap your friend in the passenger seat, floor it, and dive bomb Turn 1. OMG, is that a full-on drift?
Utility Score: 9. Oh yea, it’s an SUV
If you read the story and didn’t know the EV6 was an SUV, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a sedan (or sports car).
But it is! Not an SUV like an Escalade, but more like a tall, swoopy wagon. There’s no tunnel inside so the floor is flat, and the rear hatch opens nice and tall to reveal an expansive cage area. There are quite a few areas to store your things, even a frunk disguised as one of those gladiator engine covers.
Economy Score: 5. Stop and go
The EV6 GT gets a combined 79 MPGe, and if you don’t know what that means, it’s ok because it’s sort of a made up number.
In the real world, the GT has a range of about 200 miles. Things like cold weather (it was very cold the week I had the car), or using GT mode will cause the battery to diminish faster. I did not have any fast chargers near me, so despite leaving the car to charge for an entire day, it never had a full “tank”.
If you extrapolate what it would have cost me to charge all the way (about $35), then add another 200 miles to give the EV6 the normal range of a gas-powered vehicle (making the total power cost about $70), you’re not saving much from a regular car. Some of that cost comes from the ChargePoint station I was parked in, but fees are fees.
I think we’re not really there yet.
Features and Comfort: 9. Starship Enterprise
If the Range Rover is a 10 for beauty, the Kia is a 9 for technology. It does a lot of things, some of which you might not expect. Very Audi-like inside too.
Open the wide doors and move your butt over the deeply scalloped sport seats. Think M3 carbon fiber buckets. Not quite as extreme, but very nice to look at, all covered in leather and alcantara with green stitching.They offer plenty of lateral support (you’re gonna need it), but the bottom is on the small side for me, pushing my legs together on longer trips.
A floating center console houses a phone charger and the start button, leaving the floor between the front seats pretty much open. Even though the charger is wireless, you must plug in your phone to use CarPlay. The future isn’t here all the way just yet.
In front of you is a big digital dash that is easy to read and thankfully displays graphics that do more than simply mimic traditional dials. But the infotainment system is a bit old-school feeling and clunky. Some of the sounds this car makes are so cool – we only get a Nokia-style beep for the touch screen?
Speaking of, you can choose from a few different futuristic drivetrain sounds that make you feel like you’re in F-Zero. Fun at first, but I do miss the familiar thrum of working mechanicals.
All modern cars get at least some safety technology, but the Kia really wants to put a bubble around you. Might even want to grab the wheel. Everything from Lane Keeping Assist to Remote Start parking assist. Everything works flawlessly (take your hands off the wheel and the GT drives itself on the highway), but after awhile, you might be asking “Thanks buddy, but can I do it now?”
The one feature I did not like were cameras that turn on when you put on a turn signal. Folks, check your mirrors before you make a lane change. All this does is turn your attention down when you should be looking out.
The GT trim gives you some neat features like 21-inch wheels, a cool rear spoiler that’s impossible to clean, and not much else to distinguish it from lower EV6 trims. That’s ok with me, because we live in a world of badges. Let this car be Bruce Wayne while all the others play Batman. No one will see you coming.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT is proof that electric cars are not boring ones
I’m not going soft on you, and neither is this Kia. Electric cars are only becoming more common, and not all of them are built like a Tesla.
The EV6 isn’t “kinda fast”, and it doesn’t just “handle decently”. This is the real deal. Dare I say it makes the perfect daily. Install a charger in your home if you’re able to, and you have yourself a car that can literally do it all.
A price that hovers around base M50i territory should not scare you away either, because this car simply drives better.
Make mine black, and you’ll never see me coming. Or hear me. Make it so, Number One.
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