This is NOT a Kia

Last week, I had the chance to get behind one of the most eagerly anticipated vehicles of 2023: The Kia EV6 GT

The EV6 GT made its debut at the Quail last fall, becoming the third Kia to sport the “GT” badge in the US. So far, it’s already landed a spot in the final judging round for the World Performance Car category at the World Car Awards. Previous winners include the 2022 Audi e-tron GT, 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo, and 2019 McLaren 720s.

It’s pulled in some other heavy-hitting accolades as well, along the lines of The Drive’s “Best EV of 2022”, being named “Best of the Year” at Motorweek’s Driver’s Choice Awards, propelling Kia to take home “Best Manufacturer” at the 2022 Awards, and so on.

Big whoop, right? Another EV getting raved about by the press and bringing home all the vegan bacon. Snooze.

Sorry, but deal with it! The EV6 GT deserves every bit of praise it’s getting.

I only spent a few hours with the EV6 GT—a far cry from the typical 5-7 days I usually have for other press vehicles. However, I feel like I was able to make it past the initial “giddiness” stage that typically comes with stepping into a fresh press car. I can acknowledge that the EV6 GT is of course flawed—and I will certainly touch on that in a moment—but this car has a knack for redeeming itself at every turn.

This car has completely won me over—and that’s coming from someone who wants to preserve combustion engine sports cars as much as the next gearhead.  

So back to the review… The EV6 GT is the top of the line, sporty version of the base EV6.  You can surely buy a regular EV6—which is built on Kia/Hyundai’s E-GMP platform (same as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Genesis GV60)—but the base model is as standard as it gets.  Lower power, better range, moderate creature comforts—all good but nothing fantastic. 

The GT, however, throws all that sense and reason out the window.  It has virtually no cargo space under the hood, typically referred to as a frunk, because Kia took the regular rear electric motor from the base model and threw it up front on the GT—replacing the rear motor with an even beefier unit.  Gone are the 19-inch wheels from the base model and in are a new set of massive 21-inch alloys.  The extra space is needed for the GTs 15-inch brake discs and 6-piston neon-accented calipers up front.  That’s a lot of jargon for: “stops really, really quickly”. 

You really need that upgraded braking power too, especially when your family car can out-accelerate a Lamborghini Huracan EVO RWD.  

The GT gets its fair share of exterior treatment as well, with a sportier front fascia and an additional upgraded spoiler and diffuser setup in the back.  Overall, it retains the EV6’s bold, stylistic design language—just with added “sportiness”.

Inside the car, the front and rear seats are covered head to toe in faux suede (similar to the branded Alcantara you’ll find in McLarens and other high-end supercars), neon-green contrast stitching, and are lit by continuous ambient lighting throughout.  The front seats are swapped for DEEPLY bolstered sport seats, which are unbranded but feel shockingly similar to the Recaros you might expect to find in a BMW M4. 

I cannot stress enough how much bolstering there is in the front seats—I almost felt like I was supposed to lift my legs up while getting inside to clear the side brace of a roll cage. The rest of the interior doesn’t scream “racecar” though—it’s pretty much a direct carry-over from the standard EV6 barring the steering wheel and color choice.

Overall, the interior quality is pretty solid.  If you were to take this Kia back in time to even just 5 short years ago—no one on this planet would believe that it was a Kia.  It’s a testament to the amount of effort, time, and money Kia and Hyundai have been putting into transforming their brands. 

Like I mentioned before, the EV6 GT accelerates way too quickly.  And I say that not because I don’t like fast cars—believe me I do—but because the GT retains some semblance of everyday commuter car when it’s sitting still, you may almost be fooled out of believing it is capable of getting a move on so quickly.  To the uninspired, they may not know how to handle that sort of lightning quick gain in momentum.  Not to mention, the lack of a roaring engine makes the accelerations even more visceral, almost like a silent rollercoaster.

 Luckily, Kia has developed a fantastic traction-control system and fitted the GT with super sticky Goodyear Eagle F1 tires—so even if it’s a bit scary behind the wheel, the car will catch itself. 

That is until you engage “Drift Mode”. Oh yes, did I forget to mention that this Kia has “DRIFT MODE”? 

If you press the “GT” button on the steering wheel, press the brake, and  then hold down the traction control off button—the EV6 GT will enter into drift mode, which unlocks the fullest extent of performance out of the powertrain.  Being an EV, it will automatically direct more power to the rear wheels to help the car enter into a power slide.  I can indeed confirm, the GT will slide around with extreme ease…

Now if you thought the nonsensicalness of the EV6 GT ended there, unfortunately it doesn’t.  I say unfortunately because it is at this point that I have to talk about the real world effectiveness of this car.  Range is not very good.  In fact it’s quite bad actually.  The 77.4 kwh battery is EPA-estimated at 206 miles, and with a heavy foot which is oh-so-tempting in a car like this, you can expect that number to go down.  The good news is that the car is rated for 800V charging and can—allegedly—replenish 80 percent of its battery capacity in under 18 minutes.  I was not able to verify that data, but various news outlets have reported similar timing.  That’s good news, but working 350kwh fast chargers are few and far between.

Here’s the thing—the EV6 GT is a legitimate performance vehicle. I truly don’t believe it’s a Kia cosplaying as a sports car.  It simply is what it is trying to be. 

So is range really that much of a concern when looking for a fun car?  A Shelby GT350, one of the most fun cars to hit the markets in the past few years, only gets 21mpg on the highway and has a max range of about 250 miles.  The continuing issue with EVs is not range capacity, but charging network availability.  

Finally, pricing is also not what you would expect for a Kia.  The GT starts at $61,000.  Yikes.

That’s a lot of moolah, but to be fair—it’s a good amount of car for the money.  The case for the EV6 GT is not that of a road trip car, but I could see it being used as a daily driver in a developed area with plenty of chargers around.  Even still, the charging network continues to be the Achilles heel of EVs, and time will tell how that affects Kia’s break into the EV market.  It would be a shame for a car as good as the EV6 GT to flop. A real shame… (I’m secretly hoping it flops so I can buy one second hand for pennies on the dollar).

All the negatives aside, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the EV6 GT and can’t wait to get behind the wheel of another one as soon as I can.

It’s a silly car with real grit—not a word I think anybody’s ever used to describe a Kia…

Photos were taken and supplied by the author.

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