2023 Kia EV6 GT: First Drive Review
2023 Kia EV6 GT
One year ago, Kia introduced its first dedicated battery-electric vehicle called the EV6. The stylish electric crossover offers efficiency, versatility and performance that responsible for bringing many new consumers to the Korean brand. When the EV6 first came to market, the automaker promised a high-performance variant would eventually join the lineup and now it’s here — the 2023 Kia EV6 GT.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT takes its place at the top of this electric car’s lineup, and tees up a level of performance never before seen in a Kia. With dual motors generating 576 horsepower, the EV6 GT is the most powerful and quickest Kia ever produced. Instead of focusing on this EV’s efficiency and zero emissions, Kia highlights that the GT can sprint to 60 mph quicker than exotic sports cars such as the Ferrari Roma and Lamborghini Huracan EVO Spyder RWD — undoubtedly good company to keep.
The exterior design of the EV6 results from a collaboration between Kia’s three design studios in Seoul, Frankfurt and Irvine, California, creating a new design philosophy called Opposites United. The result is the attractive EV6 that stands out in the crowded crossover market. Slim LED headlights with signature running lights flow smoothly into the sculpted hood and flank the latest version of Kia’s tiger nose grille. At the rear, stylish LED taillights wrap around the corners and connect via a light bar that spans the tailgate.
The new GT employs the same sheet metal as the rest of the EV6 lineup, but a few styling cues help the high-performance variant stand out from other variants. Unique 21-inch wheels with Goodyear Eagle F1 high-performance rubber as well as neon green brake calipers are the most apparent differentiating features of the GT. A slightly different pattern in the front grille and a revised rear fascia are more subtle differentiators.
The 2023 Kia EV6 is available in three trim levels: Wind, GT-Line and the new GT. All-wheel drive is standard on the GT and available on the other two trims. Prices start at $48,500 for the EV6 Wind RWD and range up to $61,400 for the EV6 GT.
Two electric motors power the new EV6 GT — one for each axle. The front wheels get a 215-horsepower motor and the rears get a more powerful unit producing 362 horsepower. The combined output is 576 horsepower and 545 lb-ft of torque. To better make use of that additional power, the EV6 GT comes with sport suspension and electronically controlled dampers, larger front and rear brakes, and a rear electronic limited-slip differential.
According to Kia, the EV6 GT can sprint to 60 mph in a mere 3.4 seconds and achieve a top speed of 161 mph — strong figures not typically associated with Kias. We didn’t have a means to measure the acceleration figure, but after spending the day experiencing the GT we have no reason to dispute this claim. For some perspective, the EV6 GT gets to 60 mph quicker than the Porsche 911 Carrera S.
Drivers of the EV6 GT can choose from four modes: ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and GT. Selecting a mode adjusts the suspension, limited-slip differential, level of regenerative braking and power output. Pushing a big green button on the steering wheel engages GT mode; this is the only way to get the full 576 horsepower and the maximum 0.6g of regenerative braking. Maximum power drops to 320 kW (or 429 horsepower) when the car is in NORMAL or SPORT mode. This is also the case once the battery drops below 70 percent charge. Even at this level, the vehicle still feels plenty quick.
Another feature hard to imagine in a Kia is the EV6 GT’s Drift mode. With this feature selected, up to 100 percent power can originate from the rear motors, allowing for oversteer as the rear end kicks out. Based on steering wheel and throttle inputs, the system can add power to the front wheels as the car comes out of the drift for improved control and additional performance when exiting a turn. Certainly a fun party trick, but not something we’d recommend doing often — it’s a good way to quickly wear out the rear tires.
Granted it may possess some qualities of a high-performance sports car, but the EV6 GT is still an efficient electric vehicle. According to the U.S. EPA, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT achieves 85 MPGe city / 74 MPGe hwy / 79 MPGe combined. During our time in the EV6 GT, a combination of highway and city driving resulted in the trip computer indicating 2.3 miles/kWh, equating to 78 MPGe — close to the EPA rating. However, there is a price to pay for the additional performance. The GT can travel up to 206 miles on a full battery (the EV6 Wind RWD gets 310 miles on a charge). During our testing, the range indicated closer to 180 miles, although we admit to some rather aggressive driving during our time behind.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT features a 400V to 800V multicharging architecture for ultrafast DC charging at speeds from 50 kWh 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 to 80 percent charge. The 11 kW onboard charger for Level 2 charging will recharge from 10 to 100 percent in around 7 hours.
Adding to the utility of this fast crossover is its ability to function as a power source for computers, camping and tailgating. The EV6 has vehicle-to-load functionality that allows electricity to flow from the battery to an integrated charging control unit that provides 1900 watts. In front of the second-row seat base is a 110-volt power outlet, and an adapter can be plugged into the charge port for external power. From a full charge, power can be drawn for approximately 36 consecutive hours.
The 2023 Kia EV6 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 displays make up the wide display — infotainment in the center and a digital driver display — housed in a single curved frame that integrates seamlessly with the dashboard. The crossover also has a head-up display for additional convenience.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT comes with sport seats trimmed in suede and accented with neon green stitching and piping. Each seat features a chrome element in the seatback emblazoned with the GT logo. Seats offer excellent support with substantial bolsters for the back and thighs. Unfortunately the seats are not power adjustable, and — although they can be heated — ventilation is not an option. We also found the seats to be rather stiff; not the most comfortable option for a long road trip. We prefer the seats from the standard EV6, but the GT is only offered with these sports seats.
Aside from the sports seats, the only tell that this is the high-performance EV6 GT is a large neon green GT button on the steering wheel and a GT logo on the right side of the dashboard.
The electric drivetrain of the 2023 Kia EV6 allows for a flat floor in the rear seating area. This flat space, combined with extensive legroom and headroom, makes for a comfortable passenger experience. Even those relegated to the middle position will find legroom unobstructed. Dual USB ports between the front seatbacks add to rear-seat convenience.
While it may be a hot rod on the road, the EV6 GT is still a crossover that must deliver all the expected utility associated with this vehicle category. The EV6 GT has plenty of cargo space that can accommodate multiple pieces of luggage, all easily loaded through the wide rear hatch. Rear seats can be folded in a 60/40 split to handle more oversized items.
On the Road
Kia brought us to Las Vegas to spend some quality time behind the wheel of the new EV6 GT, and we weren’t disappointed. The ride is quiet and smooth when cruising through the city, thanks to an easily modulated throttle. The vehicle is perfectly comfortable moving in traffic at 40 mph; but when at a stoplight and the light turns green, this GT takes off like a rocket. Entering the freeway never gets old, with full throttle pressing surprised passengers back in their seats as the vehicle quickly attains highway speeds — and beyond. The power comes on effortlessly with speed building much quicker than expected.
While the aforementioned quick acceleration is a great party trick, the EV6 GT is just as fun when the road gets twisty. Precise steering provides excellent feedback, and when GT mode is engaged the suspension, power and grip provide an extremely fun ride. And although GT mode does deliver the most power when the road gets bumpy, the stiffer suspension is evident and has a rather rough ride. Changing the mode to Normal immediately smooths out bumps and improves the ride.
One of our favorite features of electric cars 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 the maximum of 0.4g (0.6g in GT mode), enough to slow the vehicle to a complete stop. During our testing we enjoyed the winding roads near Lake Mead without touching the brake pedal. Lifting off the throttle was enough to slow the EV6 GT for some sweeping corners.
On the Track
To properly test the limits of the EV6 GT without endangering ourselves or the public, Kia put us on a road course at Las Vegas Speedway. As exhibited previously, acceleration was immediate and there was never a situation where power was lacking. However, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT is not a lightweight vehicle, and that became evident when pushing into the corners. But with the limited-slip differential and power delivered to all four wheels, the EV6 GT never felt unsettled and powered through corners with minimal wheelslip or drama. On track the brakes functioned well with no fade even after several hot laps. We wouldn’t call the EV6 GT a sports car, but it certainly holds its own on a racetrack.
Since we were already at Las Vegas Speedway, Kia invited us to take the EV6 GT to the dragstrip. Again not a typical activity for a Kia, but still great fun. When the lights turned green, full throttle resulted in a tiny bit of wheelslip as the EV6 GT launched with incredible acceleration and control. We crossed the quarter-mile mark in just 11.47 seconds at a speed of 118.7 mph, eventually reaching 130 mph before slowing.
Right for You?
The Kia EV6 offers a pleasing blend of unique styling, crossover utility and EV efficiency that stands out in a growing market segment. Now with the 2023 EV6 GT, Kia takes all those qualities and adds a high level of performance never before available. Featuring the same roomy, high-tech interior as the rest of the lineup, the EV6 GT delivers outrageous acceleration that can match or exceed sports cars that cost considerably more. The EV6 GT is expensive for a Kia, but for those with the means the mix of efficiency and performance is hard to beat.
Pros: Quick; standout styling; roomy interior.
Cons: Stiff seats; limited range; odd climate controls.
Bottom Line: The 2023 Kia EV6 GT brings outrageous performance to this stylish, versatile electric crossover.
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