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Car reviews - Kia - EV6 - GT


We like
Blistering performance; dynamic handling; comfortable ride; loads of features; good 425km range
Room for improvement
Demand pushes delivery times into 2024; expensive; you’re going to lose your licence

Kia’s electric EV6 GT provides Porsche-like pace and practical sub-$100K performance

27 Jan 2023



KIA Australia ignores the shopping-trolley image of electric vehicles and goes right to the top, serving up a steaming hot performance hatch that trounces internal combustion and electric rivals costing twice the price and sets the scene for a fresh series of barbecue arguments.


Surprise No.1 is that the EV6 GT is the flagship for Kia. And it’s electric. But it’s $100,000.


Normally this will dilute the argument. But demand is so intense that the queue more than doubles the 500 GTs expected to land this year.


It’s easy to see why the world has become so enamoured by this South Korean missile and even easier to see why its appeal is so acute in this country.


Kia has sharpened its global $100,000 EV6 GT performance crossover with Australian-bred handling enhancements that change the already competent EV6 into a car that – with a 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds – chases Porsche Taycans at twice the price.


With a huge 430kW (that’s 575hp) and 740Nm – an extra 191kW/135Nm on the dual-motor EV6 and a huge 262kW/390Nm up on the single-motor variant – the GT becomes Kia Australia’s flagship in both price (it’s $99,590 plus on-road costs) and performance.


The EV6 GT is available in Kia’s major markets, but Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith said supply is tight.


Australia will get 500 GTs allocated for 2023, on top of the quota of 1700 regular EV6 variants. More than 50 per cent of the orders for 2023 are for the GT, already pushing delivery for customers into 2024.


The high-end pricing and top-spec performance won’t end with the EV6 GT. Kia has hinted that its next EV, the EV9 SUV that is expected later this year, will also get the GT treatment with a similar power boost and the Aussie-spec suspension.


In this vein, Kia shows it is parallelling the work at Mercedes-Benz (AMG), Audi (RS) and BMW (M) models by expanding the performance options to its larger models, particularly the SUVs.


Driving impressions:


It pushes the bitumen, pulling the driver almost as an afterthought as the sensation of tremendous forward motion mixes with cornering traction that almost defies physics.


But perhaps the most alienating standout of Kia’s flagship electric vehicle, the EV6 GT, is the unnervingly muted external noises. Nothing. No engine roar to accelerate the senses, no rev counter to relay the mechanical warfare beneath the bonnet.


It is a single performance car that will make you forget any preconceptions about electric vehicles and about the ecological-driven pros of cleaning the world through carbon-free motoring.


On the road, it is docile and very comfortable, is well equipped and a relaxed commuter and tourer. On the racetrack, when it comes to turning what is essentially related to a mobility aid into a performance machine, all the rules – including some so do with physics – change.


In a market that searches for budget-priced EVs to appease commuters seeking a plug-in alternative to fossil fuel, the GT is a blatant anomaly.


It’s incredibly fast, unerringly quiet – to the point it challenges your normal relationship between a stirred petrol engine’s exhaust noise compared with forward, and sideways, movement – and so smooth you're thinking rollercoaster ride.


But it also has many faces. At Haunted Hills Hillclimb track in regional Victoria, a tight single-lane exquisitely-bitumised ribbon that’s quick to mix delight with terror, the GT shows its flexibility through its driving modes, from Nomal through to Sport and then to GT.


Ironically built overlooking Gipplsland’s brown-coal power plant, and indeed more recently re-sited as the coal mine sourced a new stream beneath the old track owned by the Gippsland Car Club, Haunted Hills is not the usual play pit for an EV.


Its tightness tested the 2185kg bulk of the GT – up 80kg on the dual-motor EV6 thanks to additional motor tech and bigger brakes – with braking and mid-corner acceleration, but the all-wheel grip and torque-sensing differential almost ignored the weight.


Although the GT can be difficult to differentiate from the EV6 donor, there are subtle external signposts – the neon green-painted brake calipers, 21-inch wheels, wider front bumper, uprated matrix LED headlight system and sequential indicators among the distinctions.


Inside are sports seats that allow the front occupants to comfortably wear helmets. That’s a serious inclusion especially when you learn that while this is a bonus for track work, this feature crimps the safety rating.


Kia said the GT is “un-rated” and indicated the sports seats may affect whiplash test procedures. In layman’s terms, that could miss the five-star boat.


It’s pretty much all EV6 GT-Line trim inside, though there are subtle green highlights to reinforce the GT performance halo.


Within the touchscreen – thankfully backed up by some manual controls to minimise driver distraction – are tiers of driver-focused options, right through the drive modes and the ‘drift’ mode. Advised for the track only, of course.


Unseen beneath the broad shell is the revised drivetrain; electronic rear differential; drift control; regenerative system that is variable from 50:50 to 70:30 front to rear depending on steering, braking, attitude and acceleration; double ball-joint front suspension; bigger brakes – 380mm/360mm rotors up from 325mm; and the Australian-tuned electronic damper suspension.


Work on the suspension – which is unique to world markets – started when Kia suspension consultant Graeme Gambold drove the GT last year in Germany. He described it as “far, far, far too firm. It couldn’t be a daily drive car in Australia. Customers would walk away from the car.”


The GT gets Kia’s electronic controlled suspension (ECS), used first on the Stinger GT. Modifications for Australia included new mapping for the ECS ride and handling, and then additional work on the hydraulic dampers.


Handling is further honed by the electronic limited-slip differential (E-LSD) that improves steering performance when turning at high speed; improves launch performance; and prevents slipping on wet roads. 


For maximum driving thrill, the overriding GT drive mode automatically configures the performance of the motors, brakes, steering, the ECS, E-LSD and electronic stability control systems to their most dynamic settings.


Further tailoring of the system can be made by individual drivers through the ‘My Drive’ mode. This includes the drift mode that can be activated (through the touchscreen program) to allocate 100 per cent of torque to the rear wheels. When exiting the corner, power can be distributed to the front wheels again to improve acceleration.


It is a car that is quickly and surprisingly easily adaptable to everything from commuting to time on a race track. Particularly, it is an extremely well-balanced sportscar that is as comfortable for the family as any peers – including combustion-engined rivals – with excellent ride qualities.  


Kia claims that the 2900mm wheelbase and flat floor produces cabin space similar in size to many mid-size SUVs.


It has numerous cabin storage areas, including 480 litres of boot space with the second-row seats in place and up to 1260 litres when the rear seat is collapsed. It also has a front trunk or ‘frunk’ with an additional 20 litres of storage.


But its essence remains as a zero-emissions luxury car.


The extra weight and enticement of the 430kW/740Nm output has nibbled the range, now 424km which is down from the EV6 dual-motor’s 484km.


Small price to pay for and exciting and enticing step up for Kia and the car market in general.

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10th of January 2023

Kia EV6 GT

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