LAS VEGAS—In January, we got our first chance to drive Kia̵[ads1]7;s new EV6 electric car. Built using Hyundai Motor Group’s excellent new E-GMP platform, the EV6 immediately impressed us, offering a less polarizing design and more playful handling than the equally impressive Hyundai Ioniq 5. Designed as a dedicated EV platform, the E-GMP an 800 V battery pack that allows for quick fast charging, and the rear and four-wheel drive can achieve excellent levels of efficiency.
On the first drive, and then again on local roads over the summer, my seat time in the EV6 confirmed Hyundai Motor Group’s wisdom in hiring Albert Biermann away from BMW to build up the Korean automaker’s research and development programs. But now Kia has turned the dial way past 11 with the new $61,400 EV6 GT, a limited-production variant that can outrun some Ferrari and Lamborghini cars, and ride on a racetrack with the best of them.
Between the axles of the EV6 GT you will find the same battery pack of 77.4 kWh (gross capacity) as in other EV6s – the company has discontinued the variant with a smaller battery (EV6 Light) due to very low demand. But in the EV6 GT, that battery will now provide much more power to the pair of electric motors driving the front and rear wheels. That’s actually a total of 576 hp (430 kW), plus a combined torque of 545 lb-ft (738 Nm), split between a 215-hp (160 kW) front engine and a 362-hp (270 kW) rear. engine with electronic limited slip differential.
To put that power down, the EV6 GT rides on 21-inch wheels shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires. And to rein it in again, although Kia has increased the amount of regenerative braking from 0.3G to 0.4G, it has also seen fit to equip the EV6 GT with large, ventilated disc brakes (15in front, 14.2in front rear) with monobloc calipers, picked out in a fetching neon green paint. The car rides on electronically controlled dampers with revised spring rates and tweaked steering compared to smaller EV6s, and there are unique front suspension components, plus new traction and stability control algorithms that make this quite a playful car.
To access all the power and torque, press the neon green GT button on the steering wheel – this unlocks a whopping 576bhp and sets the electronic safety net to its most permissive setting. In eco mode, the EV6 GT sends only 287 hp (214 KW) of power to the engines – mainly to the rear engine for better efficiency. In normal and sport modes, the battery boosts the motors’ maximum output to 429 hp (320 kW), which is enough to make this a fast EV despite a not inconsiderable curb weight of 5,732 lbs (2,600 kg). (This also explains the large brakes.)
But if you press the green button and you have at least 70 percent charge left, the car unlocks all 576 hp. At Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s drag strip, the EV6 GT easily ran 11.5-second quarter-mile times, crossing the line at 118 mph (190 km/h). Kia claims a 0-60 mph (0-98 km/h) time of 3.4 seconds, a tenth of a second quicker than rivals such as the Tesla Model Y Performance and Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, and the EV6 GT will continue to accelerate until the speed limiter kicks in at 161 mph (260 km/h).
On the track I was able to explore GT mode’s more permissive handling and found a car that will power slide quite easily but is easy to catch. The suspension was able to cope with driving curbs, although it is true that the road surface on the LVMS is flat, and the curbs are smooth and not teeth-rattling. A warm-up lap in Sport mode followed by laps in GT mode confirms how much faster the latter is. And you’ll be happy to know that the brakes work well, even if you feel the car’s mass on the track when it’s time to slow down.