What Is It?
As early entries to the EV fray in North America, Kia has offered battery-electric versions of its Niro and Soul crossovers. Last year the brand introduced its first dedicated electric vehicle: the EV6. With impressive efficiency and a versatile, stylish design, the EV6 is one of the top EVs on the market. The EV6 offers the responsiveness expected of an electric car, but Kia also promised a version that would usher in a new level of performance for the brand. That model is the new 2023 EV6 GT, and with it Kia delivers on its performance promise.
What We Drove
Kia provided us with a 2023 Kia EV6 GT painted in an eye-catching Runway Red. As the top trim in the EV6 lineup, the GT comes fully equipped with no available factory options. The test vehicle arrived with additional carpeted floormats for a total MSRP of $62,865. Competitors to the EV6 GT include the Ford Mustang Mach E GT, Tesla Model Y and BMW iX.
At first glance, the GT doesn’t look much different from the standard EV6 — the bodywork is identical to the high-performance variant. But a few styling cues hint that the EV6 GT is something special. Most noticeable are neon-green brake calipers and unique alloy wheels shod with high-performance tires.
Other less obvious differences include a slightly different pattern on the front grille and a revised rear fascia. Note: We drove the EV6 GT in Chicago during the winter, so the test car was wearing winter tires instead of high-performance rubber.
Like the entire EV6 line, the GT features a roomy interior with a clean design dominated by a high-tech display screen that spans two-thirds of the dashboard. Dual 12.3-inch screens comprise the wide display — infotainment in the center and a digital driver display — housed in a single curved frame that integrates seamlessly with the dashboard.
Perhaps our biggest complaint about the EV6 is its dual-purpose controls below the display screen. Knobs provide temperature control for the driver and passenger with haptic buttons for fan speed and air direction, but at a press of the selector button all the functions change. Now the knobs are for volume and tuning with shortcuts to navigation and audio controls. Multiple times we reached out to adjust the volume and changed the cabin’s temperature instead. These rather confusing controls are not simply limited to the EV6 — all of the latest Kias use this new functionality. We hoped after a week the setup would improve with use, but unfortunately after a week it was still annoying.
While the exterior differentiation for the GT is somewhat subtle, inside the high performance aspect of this particular EV6 is a bit more evident thanks to standard sport seats up front. The seats are covered in soft suede with accents of neon green stitching and piping. The cushions provide excellent support with bolsters for the back and thighs. The sport seats can be heated, but there is no ventilation option and adjustments are manual. Granted they may look stylish and fit well with the GT theme, but the seats are stiff and less comfortable than seats in the standard EV6.
Aside from the sport seats, the only way to know this is the high-performance EV6 GT is a large neon-green GT button on the steering wheel, as well as green stitching on the wheel and a GT logo on the right side of the dashboard.
One of the advantages of the EV6’s electric drivetrain is the resultant flat floor in the rear seating area. This expansive space and extensive legroom and headroom make for a comfortable passenger experience. Even those relegated to the middle position will find legroom unobstructed. We spent several hours with three adults in the rear seat, and there were no complaints. Dual USB ports between the front seatbacks add to rear-seat convenience.
Even though it may be quicker than a Porsche 911, the EV6 GT is still a crossover and with that are expectations about certain levels of utility. To that end, the EV6 GT has plenty of cargo space to accommodate multiple pieces of luggage, all easily loaded through a wide rear hatch. Rear seats can be folded in a 60/40 split to handle larger items. There is an additional small space under the hood for secure storage.
Two electric motors power the EV6 GT, one on each axle. The front wheels get a 215-horsepower motor, while the rear gets a more powerful motor putting out 362 horsepower. The combined output is plentiful 576 horsepower and 545 lb-ft of torque. To better use that added power, the EV6 GT features a unique sport suspension with electronically controlled dampers, larger front, and rear brakes, and a rear electronic limited-slip differential.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT offers four drive modes: ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and GT. Selecting a mode adjusts the suspension, limited-slip differential, level of regenerative braking and power output. Pushing the big green button on the steering wheel engages GT mode, summoning a full 576 horsepower and a maximum 0.6g of regenerative braking. Maximum power drops to 320 kW (or 429 horsepower) when the car is in NORMAL or SPORT mode or if the battery drops below 70 percent charge. Even at this level, the vehicle still feels quick.
Kia claims the EV6 GT can reach 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds with a top speed of 161 mph — figures that put the Korean brand in a different category than most expect. We didn’t have the means to prove the claimed acceleration figure, but after spending several days with the GT we have no reason to dispute the stated stats. For some perspective, the EV6 GT can sprint to 60 mph quicker than the Porsche 911 Carrera S. A Kia quicker than a Porsche — the automotive landscape has certainly been altered by the modern EV motor.
Efficiency and Range
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT is still an efficient electric vehicle, but like other high-performance cars it requires more fuel to deliver its higher performance levels. According to the U.S. EPA, the EV6 GT achieves 85 MPGe city / 74 MPGe hwy / 79 MPGe combined. During our time in the EV6 GT, highway and city driving resulted in the trip computer indicating 2.4 miles/kWh, equating to about 80 MPGe — very close to the EPA rating. Since the EV6 GT uses the same battery pack as the standard EV6, the price for that increased performance equates to diminished range. The GT can travel around 200 miles on a full battery — about 100 miles less than the EV6 Wind.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT features a 400V to 800V multicharging architecture for ultrafast DC charging with speeds from 50 to 350 kWh. With fast charging from a 350 kWh charger, it takes just 5 minutes to add about 70 miles of range, and in 18 minutes the EV6 can get from 10 to 80 percent charge. The 11 kW onboard charger for Level 2 charging will recharge from 10 to 100 percent in around 7 hours — an easy overnight task. We didn’t have access to either DC or Level 2; however, plugging into a household 120V outlet still delivered power at 1.3 kW. At that rate, it would take about 29 hours to get from 66 percent to a full battery – not exactly ideal, which is why a typical owner would need to have a Level 2 home charger.
On the Road
We had the opportunity to spend a few days with the EV6 GT in Chicago, Illinois, and Northwest Indiana, and determined that the EV6 GT is a car we could easily live with on a daily basis. As a commuter in traffic, this electric Kia is very comfortable and has an easily modulated throttle for a smooth driving experience. Cruising on the highway is quiet and effortless. We often glanced down to see the EV’s speed was considerably higher than posted limits, but it didn’t feel as high as the speedometer was registering.
Power to Spare
While it can be smooth and easy to drive, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT always has power on tap. Passing slower cars is easy and — dare we say — fun. Full throttle from a stoplight is a party trick that never gets old. The vehicle simply launches off the line like a shot with instant hookup. And with the power distributed to all four wheels, acceleration is immediate with virtually no wheelspin even with winter tires.
The EV6 GT is equally competent on long and winding roads. Precise steering provides excellent feedback, and the suspension, power and grip facilitate extreme fun ride when GT mode is engaged. And although GT mode does deliver the most power, the stiffer suspension has a rough ride, especially on bad roads. Changing the mode to Normal immediately smooths out bumps and improves the ride, with plenty of power in reserve.
Driving an EV certainly differs from a gas-powered car, and one of our favorite features exclusive EVs is one-pedal driving. The level of regenerative braking that occurs when lifting off the throttle in the 2023 Kia EV6 GT can be adjusted via paddles behind the steering wheel. Braking can range from none to a maximum of 0.6g in GT mode — enough to stop the vehicle completely. During our testing we enjoyed the winding roads in Northwest Indiana without touching the brake pedal. Lifting off the throttle was enough to slow the EV6 GT for sweeping corners or to bring the car to a standstill for a stoplight.
The Kia EV6, in any form, delivers a great blend of standout styling, crossover utility and EV efficiency, making this one of our favorite EVs. Now with the 2023 EV6 GT, Kia adds a high level of performance never before offered by the brand. With the same roomy, high-tech interior as the rest of the lineup, the EV6 GT delivers outrageous acceleration that matches or exceeds sports cars that cost considerably more. It may be expensive for a Kia, but — for those with the means — the EV6 GT’s mix of efficiency and performance is hard to beat.
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