Ten years ago, it would have been unimaginable that in 2023, Kia would be selling an all-electric SUV in Australia with a starting price of AU$99,590 ($64,491) before on-road costs but that’s the day and age we’re living in.
In 2013, Kia’s SUV range in Australia consisted of the Sportage and the Sorento. The Sportage topped out at AU$39,490 ($25,572) while the flagship Sorento could be picked up from AU$50,390 ($32,631). Even accounting for inflation, those prices only rise by roughly AU$9,000 (~$5,800) and AU$12,000 (~$7,770) respectively and for many consumers, the idea of spending over AU$70,000 (~$45,000) or AU$80,000 (~$51,800) for a Kia still sounds absurd in 2023. So, can Kia justify selling its latest and greatest crossover/SUV, the Kia EV6 GT, for over $100,000?
To help us answer this question, we were recently handed the keys to the new EV6 GT to live with for a week.
A Kia that makes little logical sense
CarScoops’ own Stephen Rivers first experienced the EV6 GT at its North American launch in December 2022, driving it both on public roads, at a race track, and on a drag strip. However, Aussies have had to wait a little longer for it to arrive on local shores and while it only recently touched down, it’s definitely been worth the wait.
The specs of the Kia EV6 GT are something that could be marveled at for hours. The car manufacturer has fitted it with a permanent magnet synchronous motor at the front axle with 160 kW (214 hp) and 350 Nm (258 lb-ft) while a beefier motor at the rear axle provides an extra 270 kW (362 hp) and 390 Nm (288 lb-ft). Combined, the EV6 GT delivers a stupendous 430 kW (576 hp) and 740 Nm (546 lb-ft) of torque. To put those figures into perspective, a flagship Kia Sorento from 2013 had a 3.5-liter V6 with 204 kW (274 hp) and 335 Nm (247 lb-ft). The EV6 GT is double the price but it does have double the power.
Providing these motors with their juice is the same 77.4 kWh battery pack found across a host of other Hyundai Motor Group models, including all other EV6 variants as well as the Hyundai Ioniq 5. The E-GMP platform is an advanced 800-volt architecture and supports 350 kW charging, meaning the EV6 GT’s battery can be topped up from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes. In theory, that is. More on that a little later.
Read: The Kia EV6 GT Is Available With A Discount Of Up To $9,500
There’s plenty more to like about the EV6 GT. For example, it can tow up to 1,800 kg (3,968 lbs) braked and has McPherson struts up front with a double ball joint design. Kia has also overhauled the car’s braking system with new 380 mm (14.9-inch) front discs, 360 mm (14.1-inch) rear discs, and huge green brake calipers (which look a little odd without any branding). As with other E-GMP products, it also supports vehicle-to-load functions and is equipped with no less than 32 Active Safety features as described by Kia.
Among the most important active safety features include autonomous emergency braking with car, pedestrian, cyclist, and junction turning, lane keeping assist, lane following assist, intelligent speed limit assist, and high beam assist. The two other EV6 models sold in Australia, the Air and GT-Line, are similarly as well-equipped but the Air does miss out on Safe Exit Assist, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist – Reverse, Surround View Monitor with 3D Mode, and a Blind Spot View Monitor.
A special cabin
The cabin of the EV6 GT is a real highlight, even though some of the features surprised us a little when we first picked up the keys. The biggest differentiating feature between the EV6 GT and all other versions is the bucket seats up front. These seats look suspiciously like the ‘N Light Seats’ introduced for the Hyundai i30 N a couple of years ago and provide excellent levels of lateral support. They are trimmed in black leather and a suede-like material and come standard with bright green contrast stitching.
Finding seats as sporty and uncompromising as these may displease some buyers. While they are excellent for sporty driving, they are not particularly well-suited to long drives. Additionally, they are only manually adjustable and while they do offer a heated function, there is no ventilated function as with the most traditional seats of the EV6 GT-Line. They’re a tick for sportiness but a cross for comfort.
A series of other alterations are found within. For example, the suede-like material of the seats has been carried through to the door panels while green contrast stitching is also found on the steering wheel. A bright green ‘GT’ button has also been added to the wheel. From now on, we’ll refer to it as the ‘Fun’ button because that’s really what it is.
Read: Kia EV6 Under Investigation For Loss Of Power
Most of the rest of the EV6 GT’s interior is identical to the standard model. This means there is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.3-inch infotainment display, a superb head-up display, and an extremely spacious second row. For your legs, that is. The low roof of all EV6 models means rear headroom has been compromised for those over 6-foot and even with the new front bucket seats in their lowest position, headroom isn’t great for tall drivers.
One thing we found a little odd is that while there are plenty of USB-C charging ports throughout, the port you need to plug your phone into for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is a USB-A port, prompting me to buy a USB-A to USB-C adapter so I could use it. Storage space is good with 480 liters (16.9 cubic-feet) at the back which grows to 1,260 liters (44.4 cubic-feet) once the rear seats are dropped. A small frunk under the hood offers an additional 20 liters (0.7 cubic-feet) of space.
Driving a 2,185 kg (4,739 lbs) Kia SUV with 430 kW is just as absurd as you may expect. This is the type of vehicle that has no business being as quick as it is and the breadth of its performance abilities are really quite remarkable. We can’t begin to imagine how much better the Hyundai Ioniq 5 N will be.
There are four different driving modes offered in the EV6 GT: Eco, Normal, Sport, and GT. In Eco and Normal modes, total power output is capped at just 214 kW (287 hp) and while that’s not much for a vehicle of this size, it’s adequate. It is in the Sport, GT, and the somewhat secretive Maximum Power Output Mode that the EV6 GT comes alive.
In Sport, the EV6 GT delivers 320 kW (429 hp), enough to launch the car off the line at a wicked pace. GT mode then unleashes the full 430 kW and transforms the EV6 GT from a solid performer to one that will warp your perception of reality. Kia says it needs just 3.5 seconds to hit 100 km/h (62 mph) and while we didn’t have the opportunity to time a run, it feels just as fast as Kia would have you believe. It’ll quickly fling your head back into the headrest and continues to pull strongly well beyond legal speeds. It’s worth noting, however, that peak power is only available if the battery is at over 70% charge. The battery also needs to be warm. In most climates, this isn’t an issue but for those living in cold areas, Kia has hidden a Maximum Power Output Model in the infotainment system that optimizes battery temperature to maximize performance.
It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that the EV6 GT is quick in a straight line. What impressed us most was how it handles.
Good cornering prowess but not perfect
All Kia EV6 GT models sold in Australia come fitted with 21-inch wheels and 255/40 Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires at all four corners, a welcome upgrade from the Goodyear Eagle F1 of U.S.-spec models. These tires do a superb job of keeping the EV6 GT stuck to the pavement through turns. We were particularly impressed with the immediacy of the car’s turn-in and the confidence it gives you mid-corner. You do have to be careful with the throttle, however.
Unlike the traction control system of the Model 3 Performance that we drove a few years ago that delivered tenacious levels of grip in all conditions (including rain), the traction system of the EV6 GT can be easily overwhelmed. Even with traction control enabled, the tires will easily spin up on damp surfaces if you’re a little too eager with the throttle in GT model. Dare to disable the traction control and you’ll be leaving thick black lines everywhere you go. Kia has also given the EV6 GT a dedicated ‘Drift’ mode that increases the amount of power going to the rear wheels. It’s completely unusable anywhere other than on a racetrack or on a private road but it’s something nice to tell your friends at the bar, I suppose.
While driving the EV6 GT along a mountain road, I was blown away by how a vehicle this big and this heavy can handle this well. Kia Australia’s local engineering team has tweaked the suspension set-up to better suit local roads and it works wonders, keeping the ride comfortable while maintaining the poise and sharpness of the international model. Body roll has been kept to a minimum and the brakes are superb, bringing this beast to a stop time and time again with no noticeable fade.
However, driving the EV6 GT quickly and confidently is difficult. While it is hugely capable, you can constantly feel the torque vectoring system shuffling power between the wheels in the middle of corners, making it a little unpredictable and unnerving.
Good charging but disappointing range
Then there’s the charging. As we mentioned at the top of the review, the EV6 GT supports 350 kW charging but in the real world, it actually tops out at a peak of 233 kW and that’s the figure needed to go from 10-80% in 18 minutes. We were only able to pull a consistent 160 kW when charging the EV6 GT from below 20% to over 90% with the speeds slowing down to nearer 65kW after it reached 80% charge. Of course, this isn’t an issue for most buyers who will have a home charger installed but it’s worth keeping in mind for long journeys.
The range of the EV6 GT is disappointing. In Australia, it is marketed with a combined range of 424 km (263 miles) but that would be extremely difficult to achieve. In the U.S., it is listed as having 331 km (206 miles) of range and based on our week with the car, that seems to be right on the money. Of course, that figure will decrease if you start to push the performance which is extremely easy to do. Buyers with a heavy right foot will be lucky to achieve 300 km (186 miles) between charges.
Is the Kia EV6 GT worth AU$100,000? When you consider the practicality it offers, the remarkable levels of performance, and the striking looks, it makes all the sense in the world. We just wish it had more range and felt a little more refined when cornering.