Tuesday, May 28, 2024
First Reviews2023 Kia EV6 GT First Drive Review: Is the performance worth it?

2023 Kia EV6 GT First Drive Review: Is the performance worth it?

Our first review of the 2023 Kia EV6 GT confirms the performance of the top-of-the-line EV6, but is it enough?

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT Pros

 

  • Incredible performance and handling

  • Quick charging capability

  • Spacious interior with enough room for two adults in the back

  • Looks great, especially with those lime-green calipers

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT Cons

 

  • Range is not that impressive

  • Huge turning radius

  • Odd brakes

  • Annoying tech


 

It’s easy to fall in love at first sight with the new 2023 Kia EV6 GT. The first thing you want to do when you get the keys is experience the 576 horsepower of the dual electric motor powertrain, and right away, I can tell you those initial accelerations do not disappoint. The EV6 GT is an absolute monster when it comes to off-the-line accelerations, but what is even more appealing is that the power never seems to die down. The accelerations continue to be linear even as you pass 100 km/h, something you will do in just 3.5 seconds.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

However, like red flags that pop up in the weeks following an amazing first date, the EV6 GT shows some very annoying tendencies that take away from the initial infatuation after a few days on the road. It’s enough to make you reconsider a long-term relationship, unfortunately. After a week and over 700 km with the flagship Kia EV6, I still loved everything about the performance, but I wasn’t sad to bring it back. The EV6 GT is the most exciting model in the Kia electric vehicle family, but if I had to choose a model to build a life with, I’d look elsewhere in the EV6 lineup.

 

Still, let’s start with the good by looking at the element that stands out the most about the EV6 GT, the performance.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Exceptional performance

 

The EV6 GT is quicker and more dynamic than a Ford Mustang Mach-E GT. Although straight-line accelerations are very similar to the Tesla Model 3 Performance, the linearity of those accelerations, their consistency even as speed climbs, the reactivity of the performance when you are on the highway, and the overall balance that ensures that handling and agility are on par with the accelerations make the EV6 GT a much better performer than the top-of-the-line Model 3.

 

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During my first few days with the EV6 GT, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Volkswagen Golf R, and I have no hesitation about comparing the top-of-the-line EV6 to the almost legendary German performance hatchback.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

The balance is where both models truly compare. The steering wheel has a great feel to it, and the handling of the EV6 GT is even more impressive than its straight-line performance. This is a model that you enjoy just as much on a winding road as you do in a corner, and as far as performance EVs go, you have to drive a Porsche Taycan or Audi e-tron GT to get this level of cornering abilities. Now to be clear, the EV6 GT is no Taycan GTS, but it feels more solid and planted with more predictable handling than any other high-performance EV in its price range.

 

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The one exception is braking or, more specifically, brake pedal feel. This was specific to the EV6 GT, as the more subdued EV6 I drove last year didn’t have the issue. Most of the time, the brake pedal felt fine, but it occasionally needed a much more aggressive push, with the first few inches essentially being a dead zone. This meant jumping on the brakes, as the initial push-down didn’t slow the EV6 GT down. Weird and disconcerting. This happened a few times on the highway, coming up on traffic, but it also happened once in a parking lot.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

Annoying driver assistance features

 

Speaking of parking lots, the EV6 GT has a noticeably wide and unpleasant turning radius. Much larger than you would think it would be or that it should be given the size of the vehicle. And while we’re on the subject of t EV6 GT’s little annoyances, the various driver assistance features are WAY too sensitive. This is a Kia trait, as the 2023 Telluride I drove earlier this year had the same issue. Moreover, the location of the sensors is particularly sensitive to dirt and slush, two things Canadian winter roads have in abundance. Most driver assistance features were no longer functioning after about 20 minutes on the highway.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

However, the above elements don’t take away from the fun one experiences driving the 2023 Kia EV6 GT. And if these were the only issues with the Kia high-performance EV, I wouldn’t feel so ambivalent about the model. The real problem is the range.

 

Poor electric range

 

Unsurprisingly, the 2023 Kia EV6 GT has less range than any other EV6, and that’s to be expected. However, the difference is noteworthy and even more significant in winter. My EV6 GT showed an initial range of 321 kilometres with a full battery. After a week of having an absolute blast with the EV, my posted range fell to roughly 280 kilometres. This is the most significant winter-related decrease in range I’ve seen in any EV in the last three years. I drove the EV6 GT-Line in February last year, and the range drop wasn’t nearly as noticeable.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

The electric consumption of my EV6 GT rarely dipped under 30 kW per 100 km, and this wasn’t just when driving fast. I’ve always said over 300 kilometres of range is more than acceptable in winter, but unfortunately, the EV6 GT dips below that threshold.

 

Quick charging capability

 

At least the Kia high-performance EV makes up for it in spades with its impressive charging capability. Thanks to its 800-volt architecture, the EV6 GT can charge at up to 350 kW. The advanced charging capability means that even on a 100-kW charger or 150-kW charger, which are much more common, we get much closer to peak output. This resulted in being able to charge from 50% to 100% in just 30 minutes. Getting to 80% took under 20 minutes, and the charging rate reached 88 kW and stayed fairly consistent throughout. Even after the 80% threshold, the EV6 GT continued to charge at a higher rate than what we see on most EVs.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

This does partially make up for the limited range. Still, models like the BMW i4 M50 or Tesla Model 3 Performance will give you well over 350 kilometres of range in winter. Finding an EV with over 450 kilometres in perfect conditions is easy in this price range.

 

Our tester came in at $76,845, Canada making it an exceptional value. You will pay thousands more for a Mustang Mach-E GT or Model 3 Performance, and you’ll be compromising on overall performance. Moreover, the EV6 GT, like all EV6 models, gives you more versatility and interior space than its main rivals. This is much more like a crossover or SUV than a hatchback or sedan. When it comes to driving the kids to daycare or taking long family trips, range notwithstanding, the versatility of the EV6 GT’s cargo area and its welcoming rear seats are hard to beat. Moreover, the infotainment system is easy to use, there are plenty of comfort features inside, and the overall quality and craftsmanship inside more than justify the price.

 

2023 Kia EV6 GT | Photo: Charles Jolicoeur

 

I loved every second of the Kia EV6 GT on the road. It is so much fun, quick, and stable, and the balance it showcases should be enough to convince most buyers looking for a high-performance EV under $100,000. Plus, you won’t pay nearly that much for the GT. Unfortunately, that performance comes with a significant compromise on range. Moreover, the EV6 GT’s little annoyances are constant reminders that you bought the vehicle for its performance first and foremost.

 

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Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur
Charles Jolicoeur was studying to be a CPA when he decided to drop everything and launch a car website in 2012. Don't ask. The journey has been an interesting one, but today he has co-founded and manages 8 websites including EcoloAuto.com and MotorIllustrated.com as General Manager of NetMedia360. He also sits on the board of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada. Send me an email

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