2022 Kia EV6 GT Is a Genuine Rival for High-Output EVs

2022 Kia EV6 GT Is a Genuine Rival for High-Output EVs

The Kia EV6 GT gets the same battery pack as long-range EV6, with much more performance.A peak 577 hp makes it brawnier than a Porsche Taycan 4S.The downside is, the Kia EV6 GT gets less range than RWD version.Electrification is going to transform the automotive world, no question. But before delivering us into that still-distant Jetsons future, it is first set to subvert the established hierarchy of car brands, and the long established principle of paying more to get more performance. The Kia EV6 GT is a fine example of this disruptive tech. Not only is it Kia’s fastest and most powerful model to date, but it is also set to leapfrog many posher alternatives.

Because if you can see beyond its badge, the EV6 GT is a genuine rival for high-end performance EVs. The Kia has a peak system output of 577 hp, can get from 0-62 mph in a claimed 3.5-seconds and—in the European version I drove in Sweden—has a top speed of 161 mph. That makes it quicker than a Porsche Taycan 4S.While the GT’s 77.4-kWh battery pack, shared with the existing long-range EV6, is relatively small by the standards of top-end EVs, the GT also supports ultra-fast charging thanks to the leading-edge 800-volt architecture of the Hyundai-Kia E-GMP platform it sits on. Find a sufficiently potent 350-kW DC charger and Kia reckons it will be possible to take the GT from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. If that all is sounding a little dull and sensible, consider the fact the EV6 GT also has a drift mode.
Granted, it doesn’t look like a party animal. Visual distinction between the EV6 GT and the existing GT-Line that sits beneath it in the lineup is disappointingly slight for what is close to an electric muscle car. The GT sits on standard 21-inch alloy wheels to accommodate bigger brakes, has subtly revised front and rear bumpers, and also has a tailgate spoiler. Inside it gains semi-bucket seats in microfiber cloth, and a ‘GT’ mode switch on the steering wheel opposite the one that toggles between the regular Eco, Normal, and Sport functions. More significant changes are invisible. The GT has a brawnier 362-hp rear motor, with this using a dual-stage inverter to deliver more power and driving the back axle through an electronically controlled differential capable of juggling torque across the rear. At the front is a smaller 215-hp motor which can be decoupled from the driveline under gentle use to help boost efficiency. Power is limited to 288 hp in Eco mode and 460 hp in Normal and Sport. Only choosing the GT setting unleashes the whole amount, although the maximum 545 lb-ft of torque is available in every mode.

For those who do want to power oversteer their 4780-pound crossover and create clouds of tire smoke, ‘drift mode’ certainly delivers.

As in the regular EV6, the accelerator pedal mapping is gentler than the norm for punchier EVs, especially in Eco mode when it feels as if there are a couple of inches of elastic in the linkage. GT mode sharpens responses, and pressing the pedal further into its long travel delivers longitudinal g-forces that soon turn uncomfortable. Launching hard in GT mode produced the unmistakable sensation of the rear tires struggling for traction, although the stability control intervened to maintain discipline. This despite the fact Kia has opted to fit grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires in place of the low-resistance rubber usually worn by EVs.Selecting GT mode also brings the further option of using the drift mode. Kia executives admit this is a function that few owners are expected to make regular use of, although it would certainly add excitement to a mall parking lot. And for those who do want to power oversteer their 4780-pound crossover and create clouds of tire smoke, the system certainly delivers. Kia sensibly arranged a skid pan for experimentation, with only road cones at peril, where the GT proved willing to both create and hold impressive drift angles.
The active rear differential becomes more relevant at lower speeds in the real world. Sending more effort to the outside back wheel helps the car turn into tighter corners, and selecting the GT mode gives a rear-biased handling balance which makes the EV6 feel exciting even well short of running out of adhesion. Lateral grip is high and reactions are keen, although the steering still lacks meaningful resistance behind its numb-feeling assistance.The EV6 GT is hugely fast, but never harsh. The development brief was to create an electric equivalent to the generally laid-back Stinger GT. So although the GT sits on firmer springs than the regular EV6, and gains adaptive dampers, its base suspension settings are still soft, and even in GT mode there is still slight but noticeable roll under cornering loads and the chassis remains pliant over broken surfaces. Ride felt remarkably good for a car with 21-inch wheels—the GT using its suspension travel to both absorb bumps and fill dips and cambers. Dynamically it seems to have successfully added to the modest athleticism of the regular EV6 without taking anything away.
The only area where the GT is obviously deficient is when it comes to range. We don’t have EPA numbers yet, but the European 263-mile WLTP figure marks a 29% reduction on the performance of the rear-driven 77.4-kWh version over the same benchmark. The difference between testing methodologies on both sides of the Atlantic means the GT is likely to have an EPA range closer to 200 miles (rather than 300) when it goes on sale here, although the fast charging capability will help to alleviate some of the pain of longer journeys. We also await pricing, although we anticipate that even in fully loaded range-topping form the EV6 GT will be well under $70,000.That’s serious scratch for a Kia, of course—but not when compared to the wider market. The EV6 GT appears set to undercut every significant all-electric model offering similar performance. Pay less, get more. Share your thoughts on the Kia EV6 GT and the appeal of performance electric cars in the comments below.

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