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Kia EV6 GT first-drive review: putting a little more fun into EVs

2023 Kia EV6 GT
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

Kia is turning things up a notch. The EV6 is consistently lauded as one of the best EVs out there right now in its price range, sitting alongside its sister car, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, and cars like the Tesla Model 3. As an electric car, even the base model EV6 has some serious kick to it — but last year, the Kia EV6 GT-Line brought things to the next level. Now, Kia is making the car even more impressive, once again, with the Kia EV6 GT.

The EV6 GT is designed to sit at the top of the EV6 lineup, with the best performance and the most impressive features. And it makes sense why Kia would be in this position. Plenty of carmakers are still unveiling their first-generation electric cars, but Kia has been working at them for years, through cars like the Soul and the Niro EV. That’s not to mention the first few generations of EV6.

And, indeed, the EV6 GT impresses, from the first time you see it.

A (slightly) tweaked design

The changes to the Kia EV6 GT start with the design, but don’t expect any major changes — this is still the EV6 that you know, just with a little more aggressive styling and accents.

Most of that more aggressive styling boils down to 21-inch wheels, slightly tweaked vents, and other small exterior details. You won’t miss the neon green brake calipers visible in those 21-inch wheels, though. These aren’t branded brakes, but they look like they should be.

View of the front of a 2023 Kia EV6 GT.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

Matching neon green accents await you on the inside, coupled with sport bucket seats to really make you feel like you’re in a race car.

I wish Kia went a little further with the aggressive styling on the GT. You have to look pretty hard to notice any big differences between the EV6 models. Of course, some of that is purposeful — Kia describes the EV6 GT-Line as the car for those who like the GT styling but don’t care as much about the performance improvements, while the GT is for those who want both. Still, if you like the overall design of the EV6, you’ll like the look of the EV6 GT.

“This is a Kia?”

It’s hard to overstate the changes that Kia has made over the past few years, and the EV6 GT feels like a culmination of those. It’s out with the old and in with the new, and while that means that beloved cars like the Stinger might be on the chopping block, it also means we’re getting pretty sweet new rides like the EV6 GT.

So what does the EV6 GT offer that you don’t get on other models? There are a few differences that all come down to “going faster.”

Closeup of the 2023 Kia EV6 GT front wheel.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

The EV6 GT delivers 576 horsepower, with the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60mph in 3.4 seconds. Kia is quick to point out that it has a faster 0 to 60 time than the 2021 Ferrari Roma and the 2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder RWD. You might notice that neither of those is an EV, and EVs like the Tesla Model 3 Performance can beat the GT, at 3.1 seconds. It does still beat the Mustang Mach-E GT though, which gets to speed in 3.5 seconds. So this is not the fastest EV, but it’s still impressively fast.

That shouldn’t take away from the fact that driving the EV6 GT is an absolute blast. The car gets an all-new drive mode — GT — which turns on with a tap of a dedicated neon green GT button on the steering wheel. Engaging it unlocks full use of the 160kW front motor and 270kW rear motor, tunes the steering to be more responsive, and more.

There’s even a drift mode. Yes, I drifted an EV6, and yes, I was bad at it.

Maybe not the EV6 for you

All of this is super cool, and actually pretty sweet value. If you’re looking for a high-performing EV that doesn’t cost Model S or EQS-type money, the EV6 GT is a killer option. It starts at $61,400, which is a lot to be sure, but cheaper than the Model Y Performance and the Mustang Mach-E GT.

But while you pay more for the EV6 GT, you also lose some things — notably, range. The EV6 GT gets an EPA-estimated range of 206 miles, which is quite a bit less than the 252 miles the GT-Line AWD achieves, and the 310 miles the RWD EV6 Wind and GT-Line achieve. In other words, while you will likely exceed estimates if you mostly use the lower-power Eco and Normal modes, you still won’t get as much range as you would get from other models with less powerful motors. I like driving fast, but not by sacrificing range, which has more of an impact on my day-to-day life — and I suspect most are the same. Thankfully, the EV6 GT gets the same 350kW charging speeds, which should allow it to charge in under 20 minutes.

View of the 2023 Kia EV6 GT from the rear.
Christian de Looper / Digital Trends

Of course, the EV6 GT isn’t necessarily for those who care most about range, and Kia knows that. The company is only building the car in a limited production run of under 2,500 cars. While it says it would build more if it sees a lot of demand, it’s at least aware of the fact that this model is probably for a smaller crowd. It’s not pushing the EV6 GT as the EV that everyone should strive to get.

But while this particular EV6 isn’t for everyone, the EV6 GT does help cement the EV6 in general as a great option for a range of buyers. The EV6 and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are, in my opinion, the best EVs on the market right now for most people.

If you do buy an EV6 GT with the understanding that you’ll get lower range, though, you won’t be disappointed. It’s easily one of the most fun EVs out there right now, and while competition is coming, right now many EVs could use a little more fun.

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