The EV6 GT is a fitting flagship for Kia, thinks Jonathan Crouch
Ten Second Review
Kia continues to push the boundaries of its perceived position in the market. Here for instance, in the EV6 GT is a 576bhp Grand Tourer with all the stats, performance and luxury to embarrass a six-figure-priced premium German rival.
By some margin, the EV6 GT is the most expensive model Kia has ever sold. Yet looked at in class perspective, you might also consider it to be amongst the best value cars the brand has ever offered. Just look at the numbers of this Gran Turismo-style upper mid-sized EV: 576bhp and rest to 62mph in just 3.5s. There's also 4WD, adaptive damping and an active electronically-controlled limited slip differential that can shift torque across the axle through the corners. To match that kind of CV, you'd need a Porsche Taycan 4S costing a cool £25,000 more.
The EV6 GT is the model taking over from the car that, more than any other, proved that Kia could be more than just another mainstream brand. Launched in 2018, the Stinger sold modestly but its halo effect on the brand was considerable. Kia it seemed, really could make a proper Gran Turismo-style luxury car to rival the German premium brands. And the EV6 GT is an even better one. Despite the numbers, it's not all about performance (its close cousin the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N is more track-tamed). There are slightly different priorities here: but still very fast ones.
There's a very serious powertrain in play here, as the 576bhp output suggests. That's 255bhp above the standard EV6 AWD model that shares its 77.4kWh battery with this GT - but not its 314 mile range: unfortunately, that drops down to just 263 miles here. Still, there are plenty of compensations from the heavier hardware responsible. Two permanent-magnet synchronous motors feature, the main one at the back producing 360bhp thanks to a dual-stage inverter using silicon-carbide semi-conductors. This drives an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential able to shift torque across the axle. A further smaller motor up-front adds up to 215bhp but gets de-coupled under gentle throttle use to aid efficiency.
There are three drive modes - 'Eco' (where power is limited to 288bhp), 'Normal' (where it raises to 460bhp) and full-fat 'GT'. Engage the latter and 62mph is 3.5s away (0.4s off the class benchmark, the Tesla Model 3 Performance) en route to a very un-EV-like top speed of 161mph. Adaptive dampers have been added, one of the parameters you can tailor via a 'My Mode' option on the centre screen. The damping setup's 9% softer at the front and 11% stiffer at the rear than standard EV6. Big 380/360mm front/rear brake discs deliver prodigious stopping power. And traction is assured not only by the AWD system but also by a grippy set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres. For the times when you don't want traction, there's even the option of a selectable 'Drift mode' for tyre-smoking circuit slides.
Design and Build
You'd have to know your EV6s to recognise this GT version, but the cues are there if you look for them. Big bespoke 21-inch wheels with acid green calipers, redesigned bumpers and a sharper body kit with an aerodynamic spoiler element at the rear. This car's close cousin, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 N, is rather more overt.
Inside, green detailing marks out GT's cabin, that colour used for the special piping on the unique soft leather bucket seats and for the GT button that's been added to the steering wheel. As in an ordinary EV6, one of the most striking cabin elements is the wide, seamless high-tech curved infotainment screen, which gives the interior an open feel. Thanks to a relatively long 2,900mm wheelbase, cabin space is similar to many mid-size SUVs.
There's comfortable space for two adults on the rear bench and out back, there's a decently-sized 520-litre boot, extendable to 1,300-litres with the rear backrest folded. This is supplanted by a front trunk beneath the bonnet which provides up to an additional 20-litres of stowage space. Just enough for a set of charging leads.
Market and Model
From launch, Kia was asking just over £61,500 for this EV6 GT, which makes it far away the priciest car the brand has sold in this country. But the extra premium of £5,725 over an ordinary EV6 AWD GT Line S variant seems a reasonable ask given the extra performance on offer here and the additional features - like adaptive damping and sports bucket seats. It's also worth noting that the GT variant gets a standard heat pump for more efficient cabin temperature regulation in colder months: that's a £900 option on an ordinary EV6. Consider also the strong value proposition here: you'd need around £25,000 more for comparable Porsche Taycan 4S or Audi e-tron GT quattro.
EV6 GT equipment includes intelligent LED headlights, which turn with the bends. Plus through the spokes of the larger 21-inch wheels (shod with stickier Michelin performance tyres), you'll glimpse neon green brake calipers. Sporty trim features around the fascia, you get a unique sports steering wheel and a premium audio system upgrade.
Cost of Ownership
You'll want to know about range capability and the answer is that this EV6 GT's 77.4kWh battery takes it only 263 miles between charges - which is well down on the 314 mile figure that same battery delivers in an ordinary EV6 AWD model. As with all EV6s, this car's E-GMP platform allows for 800-volt capability and this Kia accepts DC rapid charging at up to 220kW. If you're able to charge in this fashion, your EV6 GT will be able to accept a 10-80% charge in just 18 minutes and 62 miles of extra range can be added in only four and a half minutes. The EV6 GT is also able to distribute charge to other vehicles at up to 3.6kW using its Type 2 socket, as part of an incorporated 'vehicle-to-load V2L' function. We're not quite sure why you'd ever want to do that, but it might conceivably be useful to charge large appliances using the car's battery 'on an outdoor adventure' according to Kia.
The EV6 GT is fitted with energy-recuperation technologies to maximise driving range. This includes Kia's latest-generation energy-efficient heat pump, which scavenges waste heat from the car's coolant system. This ensures that at minus 7 degrees Celsius, the car can achieve 80% of the range that would be possible at 25 degrees Celsius. Also featured is the latest generation of Kia's smart regenerative braking system, which is operated by paddle shifters behind the steering wheel so drivers can quickly and easily slow the car and recuperate kinetic energy to maximise driving range and efficiency. Insurance is group 45A.
This car's balance of technology, performance, luxury and value marks it out as very special. True, it's not the very fastest EV of its kind, but we can't really imagine why you'd want to go any quicker than is possible here in a car of this sort. Logically, it's a much better all-round proposition than vastly more expensive rivals like the Porsche Taycan 4S or the Audi e-tron GT quattro but despite that, we can't imagine too much cross-shopping taking place with cars like those.
Which is a pity because this Kia matches the Taycan and the e-tron blow for blow, even throwing in a few extra dynamic features of its own (like the Drift mode). And of course offering a far higher standard of spec for the money. It's probably the car in this class you ought to choose, but it probably won't be. And perhaps that doesn't matter. The EV6 GT, like the Stinger before it, is there primarily to prove what Kia is capable of. Quite a lot, as it turns out.