- New GT model offers a 576-horsepower wallop and an estimated 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds.
- Suspension and braking upgrades to match the power increase.
- Range dips to 206 miles.
- It only costs $4,000 more than a dual-motor GT-Line, for nearly double the power.
First Drive: 2023 Kia EV6 GT Solves All Problems With Power
576 horsepower for just over $60K? It's as preposterous as it sounds
The Kia EV6 is the automaker's first purpose-built electric vehicle; glowing reviews and interest in its far-out styling means it enjoys virtually sold-out status at dealerships. By all accounts, Kia doesn't need any help selling EV6s. But performance enthusiasts have been waiting for the range-topping GT version that was announced at inception but put on hold while production ramped up.
The wait is over. The 2023 Kia EV6 GT is on sale now and wears the crown as the most powerful production vehicle the company has ever produced. Kia claims the EV6 GT's 576 horsepower allows it to out-accelerate pretty much everything on the road, with an estimated 0-60 mph time of just 3.4 seconds. While that may fall short of the mind-melting times the blindingly fast Tesla Model S Plaid (2.3 seconds in our testing) or Lucid Air Dream (2.8 seconds) variants, it's a notable feat for a vehicle that carries an MSRP starting in the low $60,000s. We also think it's incredible that the GT only costs $4,000 more than a similarly specced EV6 GT-Line. That a major upgrade for not much scratch.
Impressively, you get this boost in performance with few compromises. Cargo room and passenger space are the same as the standard model, and the EV6 GT comes with plenty of creature comforts. Unfortunately, the biggest caveat is range, as the EV6 GT dips down to an estimated 206 miles on a full charge. (Other all-wheel drive EV6 models get an estimated 282 or 252 miles on a full charge.) We got behind the wheel of this barn-burning Kia in Las Vegas, putting it through its paces on the street, track and, of course, the drag strip. Tough job, we know.
What's powering the EV6?
The EV6 GT uses the same 77.4-kWh nickel-cobalt-manganese battery pack as the standard EV6. But it takes the more powerful rear motor from the EV6 GT-Line and moves it to the front axle, then slaps an even more powerful motor on the rear. The rear motor by itself (362 hp) offers more power than both motors in the GT-Line. That results in a combined power output of 576 horsepower and 546 lb-ft of torque, those incredible 0-60 mph claims, and a top speed of 161 mph.
You can't add all that power without other upgrades, so Kia also blesses the EV6 GT with a stiffer chassis, 21-inch wheels, Z-rated Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, bigger brakes, a quicker steering ratio (down from 14.25:1 to 12.56:1) and an electronic rear limited-slip differential. In addition to the typical Eco and Sport drive modes, the EV6 GT also has a GT drive mode, a configurable custom drive mode and a Drift mode.
As with the more pedestrian versions of the EV6, the GT's 800-volt charging architecture can make use of the latest ultra-fast DC chargers. Kia estimates you'll be able to replenish the battery from 10% to 80% capacity in under 18 minutes using a 350-kW station. All EV6s also come with 1,000 kWh of free charging credits via the Electrify America network — good to use until three years after purchasing your vehicle.
How does the EV6 GT drive?
The EV6 GT doesn't have a lot to visually distinguish it from the other EV6 models. There's a subtle GT badge on the rear and larger brakes, but it will slip through day-to-day life mostly unnoticed — until you hit the throttle, that is.
It veers into absurdity how fast the GT is. Unlike some other electric vehicles that offer a quick burst of acceleration and then start to peter out once you reach highway speeds, the EV6 GT climbs up past the triple digits in near silence. Speed without the sensation of sound is still something I'm getting used to, and I was thankful for the head-up display that kept my speed prominently displayed on the windshield.
The stiffened suspension isn't all that noticeable on well-kept roads, though you do notice it if there are any bumps. But even though the EV6 GT's ride is on the firm side, it doesn't veer into the choppy territory that the Tesla Model Y Performance inhabits and is comfortable enough to be driven daily. On the road, keep the car out of GT mode for extended periods — it opens up all the taps and gives you full, immediate access to that 576 hp but will quickly eat into range. Eco mode defaults to only rear-wheel drive, though it will kick on the front motor if you accelerate quickly, and it doesn't feel like an Eco mode because even with it on … this is a really fast vehicle.
Given the wealth of power on tap, it makes perfect sense that the drag strip is where the EV6 GT feels the most comfortable. We ran it on the quarter mile at Las Vegas Speedway with a prepped (sticky) surface to aid with traction at launch. This is a different surface than what we use to test at the Edmunds test track and we'll have to wait to get the EV6 GT back to Los Angeles to get our official numbers. That said, from the seat of my pants I think that 3.4-second figure is a touch conservative.
Launching the EV6 GT is simple: Put it in GT mode via the green button on the steering wheel. That's it. No launch control needed; the traction system is smart enough to minimize wheelslip on its own and you hurtle down the drag strip with a slight chirp of the wheels and immediate hookup. And this was true on the road, even without a tacky surface to launch from. We even got to use the light tree system at the drag strip so it felt like a real race. My best run was an 11.6-second quarter-mile time at 117.4 mph (with a very slow 0.403-second reaction time added in). Equally impressive was that these vehicles just kept running similar times all afternoon as journalists rotated in and out of them. When the battery is at 70% charge or above, all of the EV6 GT's horsepower is available. It does taper off below that figure (Kia was coy about how much power you do lose), but above that it's full beans all the time if you want it.
On the track, the GT is less comfortable. The suspension is stiffer, but there's still significant body roll in corners and under braking the nose dives hard. I also wished for grippier tires because the Goodyear Eagle F1s would immediately squeal in protest on turn-in, and the brakes need a bit more power up front. You have to really get into the pedal's travel before they kick on with urgency. It's in this environment where the EV6 GT feels most like an SUV, moving underneath you and tossing its weight around quite a bit. It's not a precision machine in the vein of the Porsche Taycan.
That being said, it's still goofy fun on a track in the way that wrestling a mountain lion might be (a friendly one who doesn't gnash its teeth). The GT's solution to all of those problems is power and then even more power. You don't have to let it rebalance before squeezing the throttle; it's actually better to hit the go-pedal a tick early and let the back end rotate just a touch. Then you don't even need to countersteer; stay on the power and the rear slides the back into place, and the next thing you know, you're rocketing toward the next turn. If the Taycan is a scalpel, the EV6 GT is Thor's hammer: powered by lightning and heavy, but in contrast, you can pick it up even if you're not worthy.
How's the EV6 GT's interior?
For the most part, the GT's interior mimics the standard EV6's with a few notable upgrades. Sport bucket seats are standard and feature vegan suede upholstery and bright neon green accents. The seats have aggressive bolstering and are a bit on the firm side, so larger passengers may have some trouble getting comfortable. There's also a racy striped motif on top of the dash and center armrest, as well as additional dynamic sounds that are pumped through the speakers to deliver the EV equivalent of engine noise. Thankfully these sounds can also easily be turned off via the multimedia system.
How's the EV6 GT's tech?
Kia boasts the EV6 GT will come with 20 standard safety features, including forward collision mitigation, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, an automated parking system, surround-view camera system, a blind-spot camera, rear automatic braking, lane change assistance and evasive steering assistance.
The EV6 GT will also keep vehicle-to-load (V2L) functionality. This allows users to plug an adapter into the charge port to power external accessories. These can include blenders and lights for tailgating as well as tools. It's also possible to help charge a stranded EV albeit at a very slow rate.
The 2023 Kia EV6 GT's power and fun to dollar ratio are hard to match — it's just too bad that it comes at the expense of range.