LAS VEGAS—In January, we got our first chance to drive Kia’s new EV6 electric vehicle. Built using Hyundai Motor Group’s excellent new E-GMP platform, the EV6 instantly impressed us, offering a less polarizing design and more playful handling than the also impressive Hyundai Ioniq 5. Designed as a dedicated EV platform, E-GMP features an 800 V battery pack that allows for rapid fast charging, and the rear- and all-wheel drive can achieve excellent levels of efficiency.
In that 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 automakers’ research and development programs. But now Kia’s turned the dial well past 11 with the new $61,400 EV6 GT, a limited-production variant that can outdrag some Ferraris and Lamborghinis, and ride the rumble strips at a racetrack with the best of them.
Between the axles of the EV6 GT you’ll find the same 77.4 kWh (gross capacity) battery pack as in other EV6s—the company has discontinued the smaller-battery variant (the EV6 Light) due to very little demand. But in the EV6 GT, that battery will now feed much more power to the pair of electric motors that drive the front and rear wheels. There’s a total of 576 hp (430 kW), in fact, plus a combined 545 lb-ft (738 Nm) of torque, split between a 215-hp (160 kW) front motor and a 362-hp (270 kW) rear motor with an electronic limited-slip differential.
To put down that power, the EV6 GT rides on 21-inch wheels shod with Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires. And to rein it in again, even though Kia has increased the amount of regenerative braking from 0.3 G to 0.4 G, it’s also seen fit to equip the EV6 GT with large, ventilated disc brakes (15 inches at the front, 14.2 inches at the rear) with monoblock calipers, picked out in a fetching neon green paint. The car rides on electronically controlled dampers with revised spring rates and retuned steering compared to lesser 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 that power and torque, you need to press the neon green GT button on the steering wheel—this unlocks the full 576 hp and puts the electronic safety net in its most permissive setting. In eco mode, the EV6 GT sends just 287 hp (214 KW) of power to the motors—mostly to the rear motor for better efficiency. In normal and sport modes, the battery increases maximum power to the motors to 429 hp (320 kW), which is enough to make this a quick EV despite a not-inconsiderable curb weight of 4,795 lbs (2,175 kg). (This also explains the big brakes.)
But if you press the green button, and you’ve got at least 70 percent state of charge remaining, 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 quotes a 0-60 mph (0-98 km/h) time of 3.4 seconds, a tenth of a second faster than rivals like the Tesla Model Y Performance and the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT, and the EV6 GT will keep accelerating until the speed limiter kicks in at 161 mph (260 km/h).
On the track, I was able to properly explore GT mode’s more permissive handling and found a car that will powerslide quite readily, but which is easy to catch. The suspension was able to cope with riding the curbs, although it’s true that the road course at LVMS is flat, and the curbs are smooth and not tooth-rattling. A warmup lap in sport mode followed by laps in GT mode confirm just how much faster the latter is. And you’ll be glad to know that the brakes work well, even though you do notice the car’s mass on track when it’s time to slow things down from speed.