The Kia EV6 has proven to be popular from the off, offering a uniquely styled electric car to those in the market for a spacious vehicle. It matters little whether it's labelled a crossover or an SUV or just a large hatchback, as it has a great interior, plenty of room, a feeling of high quality and an excellent electric powertrain. Kia, however, isn't content to leave it at that, as evidenced by the introduction of a new halo model, the EV6 GT. With all-wheel drive and enormous amounts of power, it's like nothing else Kia has ever sold.
In the metal
Given its technical make-up, the EV6 GT looks remarkably restrained. It gets sportier alloy wheels, measuring 21 inches in diameter and wearing Michelin Pilot Sport high-performance tyres, while the brake callipers front and rear are painted neon yellow. The keen of eye will spot that the GT model gets its own design of bumpers front and rear - including an aerodynamic diffuser at the back - and enhanced LED rear lights.
Inside, the upgrade is more obvious thanks to the addition of a set of gorgeous sports seats. They're trimmed in suede, feature metal 'GT' inserts and piped with a lurid green colour, also picked up in the stitching. The same style is carried through to the back seats, though without a reduction in space or passenger capacity over the regular EV6. That means, as before, there's generous legroom at the back, with a flat floor, though the headroom isn't as expansive as that of say a Volkswagen ID.4 or Skoda Enyaq.
Up front, the dual-screen digital dashboard is carried over, with GT-specific menu items added, while a high-set centre console incorporates lots of storage. The flattened two-spoke steering wheel gets a neon yellow GT button as well as the usual Drive Mode button. Other subtle changes serve to enhance the EV6's high-quality cabin, helping make it feel special.
In terms of practicality, the GT variant gets a smaller boot due to the extra hardware underneath, though 480 litres with the rear seats in use shouldn't be a deal-breaker for anyone.
From the off the GT model feels different to other versions of the Kia EV6. Pull out of a parking space with full steering lock applied and you can sense there's something going on with the differential that makes it feel less smooth than it should do. The steering feels more positive immediately as well, even in the everyday Eco and Normal driving modes - though it thankfully stops short of being heavy to use.
The suspension feels firmer, too, though it's not uncomfortable, though there is a little more road noise. The GT comes with electronically controlled dampers that have three base levels. Press the Drive Mode button to activate the Sport setting and the dampers become 20-30 per cent stiffer (it varies and adapts to the situation), while pressing the GT button makes them 20-30 per cent stiffer again. The latter is much too firm for typical Irish roads, but we did find that the Sport setting offered a great compromise between comfort and body control when pushing on over interesting mountain roads.
It isn't only the suspension that changes depending on the driving mode selected; it also alters the power delivery of the electric motors, the brakes, the steering, the electronically controlled rear limited slip differential and stability control. What's more, if you don't like the default levels of the set modes, you can choose your favourite settings and store them under My Mode, and then access it with the GT button.
Delve into the infotainment screen and you'll discover even more customisation available, including the creation of different synthesised 'engine' sounds and even a Drift Mode, though we don't recommend using that on the public road, obviously. Indeed, in the GT mode, the car is frisky enough to slide its rear in the wet without too much provocation. When it does so, it's surprisingly well-telegraphed and easy to control. Anyone expecting an anodyne driving experience will be pleasantly surprised by the engagement this car offers up.
That much should be clear by the fact that I've not mentioned its outrageous performance yet. You'd expect a car such as this, with up to 585hp and 740Nm of torque, to be dominated by that, but it isn't. Sure, it's giggle-inducingly quick in a straight line (pretty much as rapid as Porsche Taycan Turbo, which is a high bar indeed), but it is usable performance to a certain extent as it makes for safe overtaking and effortless cruising. Some might find it a little frustrating within the confines of the Irish speed limits, but even driving sensibly this car is fun and a real sense of occasion. Admittedly, it can't quite disguise its considerable weight, but it's good to drive despite that.
Not that we'd expect anyone to bring this 2.2-tonne electric car to a racetrack for a track day, but I suspect it would be an absolute hoot. It would shred its tyres in no time, however.
Now that we've got all that out of our systems, the EV6 GT still operates as a perfectly pleasant electric car for everyday use. Kia quotes a range of 424 kilometres at an energy consumption rate of 20.6kWh/100km. We saw worse than that over the course of a few days' testing, but it looks achievable with restraint. And of course, the GT model comes with the great 800-volt electrical architecture that allows recharging on fast chargers at up to 233kW, making it ideal for those that spend a lot of time on the motorway.
What you get for your money
Kia Ireland hasn't published pricing details for the GT model as yet, but it confirms that 'in the region of €85,000' should be expected. That sounds like an awful lot of money, and must make this the most expensive Kia ever sold here. However, when you compare what you get in terms of technical specification and performance versus other cars on the market, it doesn't seem excessive. The entry-level EV6 Earth costs from €52,000, for example. Naturally, the GT will be a niche model, though Kia Ireland reckons it can sell a few dozen a year without too much trouble. For the record, it gets the usual seven-year Kia warranty and has all the equipment you could want included in the price.
Before driving the GT, we'll admit to wincing a little on hearing its asking price. And even now, following our first test of the incredible technical specification of this car, that's still impossible to ignore. But there are plenty of high-performance EVs in and around the €100,000 mark and, while Porsche devotees might never consider an EV6 over a Taycan, it would appear that many others are willing to try new brands in this new age of electrification. The GT's performance and ability are arguably wasted on Irish roads, but for those that appreciate such things, it still holds a lot of appeal. Against that background, the EV6 GT certainly deserves its moment in the limelight and it's undeniably a special creation.