PALO ALTO, Calif. – Outside — big, wide Z-rated tires mounted on open 21-inch rims revealing fluorescent lime green calipers and massive ventilated brake discs. Runway red paint. Inside — wide-bolstered, manually adjustable seats. The new Kia EV6 GT AWD looks like the performance vehicle the Korean brand wanted to create from its initial line of battery-electric vehicles (BEVs).
The company’s engineers made extensive changes throughout the EV6 turning it into the most powerful Kia ever produced. Like its twin-motor EV6 AWD sibling, the GT has a 160 kW front motor but adds a 270 kW one in the rear for a combined 576 horsepower and 546 pounds-feet of torque (in comparison to 320 hp and 446 lbs.-ft.).
Kia’s super EV performs
My recent trip to the Silicon Valley in California allowed me to sample the Kia EV6 GT AWD in an environment catering to the electric-vehicle (EV) world, but as much as I exercised the spry four-door, I was unable to ascertain its true performance potential. One needs more than public roads to wring out its full potential.
So, I turned to others who test vehicles for a living, like AMCI Testing, an “independent automotive research firm committed to unbiased, comparative evaluations of automotive products. AMCI Testing evaluates, tests and critiques more than 150 cars and trucks each year at our test facilities in Southern California and private proving grounds worldwide.”
AMCI Testing put the EV6 GT up against a pair of Italian supercars – the 620 hp 2022 Ferrari Roma and the 610 hp 2022 Lamborghini Huracán Evo Spyder RWD.
Despite a horsepower disadvantage and carrying more weight (4,775 pounds vs. the Ferrari’s 3,616 and the Lambo’s 3,772), the Kia was quickest from 0 to 60 miles per hour at 3.4 seconds (Ferrari 3.52, Lambo 3.51). And the Korean challenger came in at $61,400 vs. $222,620 for the Ferrari and $293,000 for the Lamborghini!
As quick as the Kia was for the AMCI Testing crew, the folks at Car and Driver were able to get to 60 in a blistering 3.2 seconds and 100 mph in 8 seconds!
Speaking of super cars, one of the more enjoyable trips I took in the EV6 GT was navigating the tight, twisting 18.6 mile run up the Santa Cruz Mountains from Palo Alto to Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside.
Alice’s is a magnet for all types of high-end sporty cars and motorcycles, which on this Saturday morning included a McLaren, a Porsche GT3, a Cobra kit car and a Morgan, amongst the more mundane Porsche 718s, 911s, a Ferrari and classic Triumph TR6. But it was the unique Kia EV6 GT which received the most attention – something not seen at this terrific, iconic eatery.
Upgrades beyond more powerful motors key to the EV6 GT’s overall performance
Kia’s engineers introduced three additional driver-selectable Drive Modes for this model: GT Drive Mode, My Drive Mode, and Drift Mode, in addition to the Eco, Normal, Sport, and Snow drive modes offered on other EV6 models.
With the push of a button on the steering wheel, GT Drive Mode optimizes the performance of the EV6 GT’s motors, braking, steering, suspension, e-LSD (electronic limited-slip differential), and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems into their most dynamic settings.
Drivers can also create custom-tailored settings to suit individual driving preferences using My Drive Mode.
For an even more controllable driving experience, selectable Drift Mode allows drivers to distribute power to the rear wheels.
The front suspension is revised on the EV6 GT comprised of MacPherson-type struts with inclined strut bearing and strut ring and Multi (Dual) Lower Arm Type; the rear features five multi-link setup and a unique-to-the GT ECS (electronically controlled suspension) replacing more conventional shock absorbers (like the other EV6 models).
The rack-mounted power steering system is 2.30 turns lock-to-lock, quicker than the other models.
The EV6 GT’s larger wheels and tires – 8.5×21-inch alloys mounted with the Z-rated 255/40R201 summer performance tires – further add to the vehicle’s sharp, responsive handling characteristics without producing a lot of noise (sometimes an Achilles heel of such rubber) or rough ride.
Easily seen inside those large, very open alloy rims are the largest Kia EV rotors – 15 inches up front, 14 in the rear, all four ventilated. The braking system also features anti-lock (ABS), a Mobis IEB electric brake booster with regenerative braking, and an electronic parking brake.
Kia Drive Wise ADAS
The Kia EV6 GT AWD is a very comprehensively equipped vehicle with virtually no options (mine had the carpeted floor mats priced at $170) which meant it had a long-list of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) under the Kia Drive Wise Driver-Assist Technology Label.
These systems include forward collision-avoidance assist – Fusion Plus; blind-spot collision-avoidance assist; rear cross-traffic collision-avoidance assist; lane-keeping assist & lane-following assist; parking-distance warning – forward/reverse; parking-collision avoidance – forward/reverse; safe-exit assist; Highway Driving Assist 2, and Remote Smart Parking Assist.
Not technically an ADAS, the vehicle also had Kia’s augmented-reality heads-up display. This display, projected on the windshield in an almost holographic display, is readable in virtually all light, even when wearing sunglasses. The HUD content, like all Hyundai Group HUDS, was comprehensive including major ADAS warnings.
Range, charging characteristics
All this performance does come with a cost: an estimated range of 206 miles, below the 252 of the less-powerful EV6 AWD models and the 310 miles of the rear-wheel drive versions.
Like all members of the EV6 family, the GT showcases the world-first patented multi-charging system supporting 400v and 800v DC charging, which works on DC chargers with speeds ranging from 50kW to 350kW.
This system allows the EV’s 77.4 kWh battery pack to be replenished from 21 to 80 percent in less than 18 minutes on a fast charger.
Speaking of charging – even though I was in the heart of California’s EV world (Tesla’s engineering center was three blocks from where I was staying; Lucid’s headquarter 11 miles away) and chargers were always in the area where I was driving, I missed the security and convenience of the Autel MaxiCharger AC Wallbox Home unit in my garage. In California I had to make sure the chargers at the condo in which I stayed were available to recharge, not nearly as convenient as having my own.
Living with the EV6 GT
Like the other top-of-the-range Kia EV6 models, the GT is filled with all the creature comforts and modern technology one would expect. This includes a 12.3-inch touchscreen display at the heart of the navigation-equipped infotainment system.
Unique to this model are (heated) manually adjustable aggressively shaped sport seats befitting a performance car with the capabilities of the EV6 GT. The seats take a bit more time and effort to get into and out of, but once there they are comfortable at all speeds, on all road surfaces.
The Kia EV6 GT AWD is a blast to drive, a thoroughly modern take on a super performance vehicle at a very reasonable price (mine, as reviewed, including $1,295 inland freight & handling and floor mats, totaled $62,865). This is a supercar you can live with every day without any real compromises.