2023 Kia EV6 GT review
This is the most powerful and most expensive car Kia has ever made.
Meet the 2023 Kia EV6 GT – the flagship version of the brand’s first dedicated EV, with quoted performance figures that would make an Audi RS6 nervous.
It lists for a smidgen under $100,000 before on-road costs, can zoom from 0 to 100km/h in just 3.5 seconds, and has a claimed top speed of 260km/h. The soon-to-be-retired Stinger GT suddenly sounds slow.
For reference, the Audi RS6 Avant – which retails for $232,200 before on-roads – makes 441kW and 800Nm from its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with 48V mild-hybrid assistance, good for a 3.6-second sprint to 100km/h and a top whack of 280km/h.
This is a big thing for Kia. Once considered a ‘cheap and cheerful’ brand, the Korean carmaker has its sights firmly set on competing with the best on the world stage – does it deliver?
How much does the Kia EV6 GT cost?
At $99,950 plus on-road costs, the EV6 GT sneaks just under that $100,000 barrier and also becomes the most expensive model to ever be offered by the Korean brand in Australia.
It’s $12,000 more than the EV6 GT-Line AWD ($87,950); which itself boasts 239kW and 605Nm from its dual-motor electric drivetrain, and quotes a 0-100 sprint of 5.2 seconds. Further, there’s a $20,000 gap between the EV6 GT AWD and the EV6 GT-Line RWD ($79,950).
Key rivals include the Tesla Model Y Performance ($94,900) which offers 393kW and a 3.7s 0-100 claim; as well as the entry-level BMW i4 eDrive40 ($99,900) and a fully-optioned Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor with Performance Pack (circa $92,300).
Not far off is the BMW i4 M50; arguably the equivalent variant to the EV6 GT in terms of performance with its 400kW/795Nm electric drive system and 3.9s 0-100 claim, which retails for $129,900 plus on-roads.
Other rivals are few and far between right now, though Hyundai is prepping to launch the Ioniq 5 N later this year which should effectively use the same mechanical running gear with a more track-oriented design. More to come.
2023 Kia EV6 pricing:
- Kia EV6 Air RWD: $72,590
- Kia EV6 GT-Line RWD: $79,590
- Kia EV6 GT-Line AWD: $87,590
- Kia EV6 GT AWD: $99,590
Prices exclude on-road costs
What is the Kia EV6 GT like on the inside?
While the performance claims are radically different to the wider range, the cabin isn’t – not that it’s a bad thing.
If you’ve sat in a GT-Line before the cabin will feel very familiar, with the exception of model-specific appointments like the Neon Green button on the steering wheel for GT Mode, as well as the Neon Green contrast stitching and leather/suede GT front bucket seats.
Said bucket seats look and feel very similar to the units in the latest i30 N, with a slightly different insert. They’re surprisingly comfortable, hold you in nicely, and while manually adjustable it’s easy to get a good driving position thanks to a pretty wide range of adjustment.
Overall build quality is typical Kia, in that there’s a decent ratio of soft-touch surfaces and everything feels well put together, though at this price point some of the harder plastics are harder to justify.
Ahead of the driver you get the same dual 12.3-inch displays as other EV6 models, but when you hit the GT button on the steering wheel all the displays and the ambient lighting flash Neon Green while everything underneath sharpens up for maximum response.
The big screen real estate and sharp resolution are highlights, and there are some cool graphics and animations that suit the EV6’s futuristic design.
As we’ve covered previously, the infotainment unit is kitted out with satellite navigation and DAB+ radio, though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are wired, and the EV6 misses out on Kia Connect services – which facilitates online infotainment and navigation services as well as app-based remote functions.
This is Kia’s flagship and costs $100,000, so it’s a shame it misses out on these features when Kia Connect is standard in a $35,000 Seltos – we have to wait for a mid-life refresh, apparently.
I also wish the driver’s display offered a virtual dial layout. A racy, gauge-style display would be great and arguably more readable when driving in a more spirited manner – the Genesis GV60 offers something like this where the EV6 and Ioniq 5 don’t.
Second-row accommodation is much like the wider EV6 range, in that there’s good room for taller adults behind taller front occupants.
However, that sloping roofline eats into head room just a little bit if you’re over 6’0″ like me, and when on track this is made more apparent when wearing a helmet. My helmet-clad noggin was firmly wedged against the ceiling when I was taken around Haunted Hills for a hot lap.
Otherwise for normal duties, knee and leg room are good, and the pillar-mounted air vents are closer to face level than the usual console-mounted ones you find in other cars. Behind the centre console are also two USB-C charging ports in place of the units usually embedded behind the front seats.
As with the wider range, there are ISOFIX anchors on the outer seats, as well as top-tether points for all three rear pews. Rounding out amenities are a fold-down centre armrest with cup holders as well as bottle holders in the doors.
Luggage capacity is the same as the EV6 AWD – 480L with the rear seats up and 1260L with them folded. There’s also a small 20L ‘frunk’ under the bonnet.
The load area itself is nice and square, and there’s a pretty flat area when you fold the seats down. It may be listed as a large SUV in VFACTS, but the EV6 is more of a big hatchback or crossover.
You won’t find a full-size or space-saver spare under the boot floor. All versions of the EV6 are fitted with a tyre repair kit.
What’s under the bonnet?
With 430kW and 740Nm from its dual-motor drivetrain, the EV6 GT is Kia’s most powerful production car ever; quoting a 0-100km/h time of 3.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 260km/h.
Key to the performance gain is a new rear electric motor that bumps power by 63 per cent compared to the unit fitted to regular EV6 models.
On its own, the EV6 GT’s rear electric motor makes 270kW (6800-9400rpm), adding to the front motor’s 160kW (4400-9000rpm). That contributes to an 80 per cent bump in overall grunt over the EV6 AWD.
The quoted top speed is also a huge step up – not that it really matters in Australia – with the regular models quoting 185-188km/h. Hooked up to the motors is the same 77.4kWh lithium-ion battery as other EV6 models.
Kia quotes a combined efficiency figure of 20.6kWh per 100km and a WLTP driving range of 424km – which is a little down on key rivals, and you’ll see more like 380-400km in the real world if you have a heavy right foot.
It can be charged at up to 350kW (DC) thanks to its 800V electrical architecture, which will see the battery charge from 10 to 80 per cent in as little as 18 minutes. At a more widely achievable 50kW, it’ll take 73 minutes.
While the drivetrain is all based on global specification, Kia Australia’s engineering team – lead by ride and handling engineer Graeme Gambold – has done extensive work tuning the EV6 GT’s suspension and steering systems for Australian roads.
The other big upgrade mechanically is the braking system.
Up front are 380mm ventilated discs with four-piston calipers, while there are 360mm vented discs the rear. That’s up on the 325mm front and rear units on the standard EV6 – and contributes to a 2.0m decrease in stopping distance from 100-0km/h compared to the GT-Line.
How does the Kia EV6 GT drive?
I don’t want to spoil it first up – but this thing is bloody good.
A lot of times vehicles that arrive with heaps of hype are often met with a more critical eye; but I was thoroughly impressed with the wide breadth of talents the EV6 GT possesses.
Our drive program started in Melbourne and took us out to Haunted Hills, which is just past Moe in Victoria’s outer south east. It wasn’t a direct link either, we were taken through the winding roads in the hills near Trafalgar and Morwell en route, incidentally stretches of black top Kia uses for ride and handling programs.
Starting off on Melbourne’s inner-city streets, the EV6 GT feels like any other EV6 in its Normal drive mode. The Electronic Controlled Suspension (ECS) is a similar adaptive setup to that used in the Stinger GT, and it allows the EV6 to tailor its chassis to the environment.
Despite 21-inch wheels and performance rubber the electric Kia is very agreeable to commute in, with good ride compliance over pimpled city roads and an overall layer of polish lacking in some big, heavy EVs.
Get it out onto a freeway and again it settles into a cruise like any non-performance EV6 variant, with a hint more tyre roar coming from those Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tyres – though it’s still significantly more hushed than a similarly-priced Audi RS3 or Mercedes-AMG A45 S on the highway.
In day-to-day driving I have to draw a lot of comparisons between the EV6 GT and something like a VW Golf GTI or R, which are lauded for their all-round ability. The EV6 errs on the firmer side in this specification, but it’s more than comfortable and refined enough for daily duties while also being sharp enough to have a bit of fun.
Once we hit the winding B-roads, the EV6 GT really came into its own.
Where a lot of performance vehicles can be ‘GT’ in name only, the EV6 GT is a proper driver’s car – electric or not – once you press the bright green GT button on the steering wheel and point it up a twisty back road.
The suspension firms up and the variable ratio steering adjusts for better response, which results in a near 2.1-tonne EV feeling nowhere near its quoted mass. It’s worth noting the regular EV6 range gets a steering tuned supplied by Korea and approved by the Australian team, while the GT gets a proper local tune.
It genuinely corners like an all-wheel drive hot hatch, with quick and accurate steering that feels beautifully weighted in its GT setting, and very limited body roll that masks the car’s raised ride height and overall heft – remember, this thing is also 4696mm long and 1890mm wide.
When you’re putting the Kia in the same sentence as something like a Porsche Taycan – which with equivalent power and performance is about three times the price – you know the Korean brand is onto something pretty bloody good.
A lot of EVs quote crazy acceleration times, but few can put a smile on your face with their dynamic talents the way this Kia can. I recently drove the Genesis GV60 Performance AWD which is based on effectively the same underpinnings and it felt quite heavy and cumbersome in tight corners by comparison.
Helping things is the immense grip at hand courtesy of the sticky Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres and the E-LSD on the rear axle, which shuffles torque to the rear wheel with the most traction. You can genuinely point and shoot this thing with confidence, even with all 430kW and 740Nm under foot.
Simply put; this isn’t just dynamically accomplished “for an EV“. It’s accomplished, period.
Once at Haunted Hills, we got the chance to take the EV6 GT for a couple of laps around the short, tight Hillclimb Track.
Usually, this sort of circuit is the realm of something like a Mazda MX-5 or a classic car rally. Don’t blame me for being a little sceptical when we rocked up.
After a slow sighting lap to get a glance at the various aspects of this technical circuit, I got three consecutive laps where I gradually increased the pace and moved up the drive mode ladder.
I didn’t bother with Eco, but there’s a noticeable shift between Normal and Sport, and the car becomes sharper again in GT. I quickly shuffled up to the most aggressive setting about halfway through my first lap.
Early on I was pretty impressed with how nimble the EV6 GT felt on such a tight and technical circuit. The amount of grip and muscular throttle response mad for quite a fun time.
The EV6 holds on admirably around tighter bends even as you gradually pile on more throttle, and the accurate, well-calibrated steering means you can point this thing with confidence and get a good feel of what’s happening underneath.
It was here that the rear E-LSD really demonstrated its ability, allowing you to use full throttle out of a tight corner without upsetting the balance of the car and kicking out the rear end.
We got a hot lap with a driving instructor who drove it much harder than I did, and even though my big helmet-wearing head was shaking around like a bobble-head in the back the EV6 kept its composure.
Safe to say, I came away charmed.
What do you get?
The EV6 GT builds handsomely on the GT-Line, with equipment additions atop the obvious drivetrain and mechanical changes – get the full spec rundown here.
EV6 GT highlights:
- GT body design
- Neon Green brake calipers
- 21-inch alloy wheels
- Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres
- Matrix LED headlights
- Intelligent Front Light System
- Sequential indicators front, rear
- Electronic Controlled Suspension
- E-Limited Slip Differential (E-LSD)
- GT Mode button on steering wheel
- Artificial leather and suede bucket seats, front
- Heated seats front, rear
- Runway Red
- Snow White Pearl*
- Aurora Black Pearl*
- Yacht Blue*
*Premium paint costs $520
** Matte paint costs $3295 and includes paint protection
Is the Kia EV6 GT safe?
Unlike the wider EV6 range, the GT won’t wear a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Kia Australia told media at the launch that the GT will be unrated due to the model-specific bucket seats, which remove the front-centre airbag that’s standard across the wider range. Otherwise, the GT’s list of safety systems mirrors that of other variants.
The core EV6 range score 90 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 64 per cent for vulnerable road user detection, and 88 per cent for safety assist.
Standard safety features include:
- Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
- Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Front-centre airbag (N/A GT)
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Intelligent speed limit assist
- Lane Following Assist (active centring)
- Lane keep assist
- Multi Collision Braking
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Reversing camera
- Tyre pressure monitoring
EV6 GT-Line adds:
How much does the Kia EV6 GT cost to run?
As with every other Kia, the EV6 GT is covered by a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
You also get 12 months of roadside assist thrown in with purchase, and it’s renewed for another 12 months each time you complete a scheduled service with a Kia dealer, up to eight years.
Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first.
Kia Australia has confirmed the EV6 GT will be a little dearer to service compared to regular EV6 variants, largely due to the extra maintenance required for the performance model’s beefier braking system.
A trio of service packs will be offered. The three-year plan costs $733; the five-year plan $1371; and seven years will set you back $2013. By comparison, the standard EV6’s packs cost $594, $1089 and $1584 respectively.
Unlike some rival manufacturers, Kia doesn’t offer a subscription to public charging facilities, even for the GT.
CarExpert’s Take on the Kia EV6 GT
What a car.
Just like the Stinger before it, the EV6 GT is a real game-changer for the Korean brand. Yes, it’s that good.
It’s as fast and fun as vehicles more than twice the price, has enough space to be a practical family car, and while exxy for a Kia is one of the strongest bang-for-back buys on the market – EV or ICE.
That’s not to say it’s perfect, however. While adding Matrix LED headlights, all the racy appointments like those awesome front buckets, and heated rear seats is welcome, the fact our market gets jibbed for Kia Connect is a little silly for a vehicle marketed as the brand’s performance and technological halo.
Further, hardwired smartphone mirroring seems a little off the pace compared to what’s widely available these days, and the sacrifice in driving range might be sticking point for those with range anxiety – especially without a thrown-in subscription to the public fast-charger network.
Let’s also not forget; $100,000 is a lot of money for anything, let alone a Kia.
All things considered though, it’s no wonder the Kia EV6 GT has been met with high acclaim. It’s a proper driver’s car – period – and is a great new option for keen drivers wanting to make the switch to electric .
It really makes me wonder how Hyundai is going to one-up this with the Ioniq 5 N.
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