Life

New Kia EV6 GT-Line a keen mix of performance and practicality

David Roy

 


AS YOU may well have noticed, we're quite partial to a new Kia here at Drive towers. However, I do have a bone to pick with the Koreans: they've just announced that they are ending UK sales of their fabulous Kia Stinger, which was one of my favourite test drive experiences of last year.

This attractive, twin-turbo V6-powered yet highly practical model was retired last week in order to highlight the imminent arrival of the new EV6 GT – a Porsche-eating performance version of Kia's best-selling all-electric five-door crossover which was recently crowned Car of The Year 2022.

The 430kW-rated dual-motors of the EV6 GT will launch it from 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds and are capable of producing 577bhp and 546lb ft of torque which, combined with a top speed of 162mph, means this ultra-rapid EV takes the title of Kia's Most Powerful Production Car from the V6-powered Stinger.

Talk about 'symbolic successions'.

 

The Kia Stinger is making way for the new performance-orientated EV6 GT

 

Sadly, I haven't yet had the pleasure of compressing my innards via the rapid acceleration of the new EV6 GT which, although based on the same Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) common to all EV6s and indeed the rival Ionic 5 EV from Kia's sister company Hyundai, will come with its own specially tuned chassis, suspension and brakes in order to handle all that extra power.

However, I did recently get to drive the rather tamer yet no less stylish looking EV6 GT-Line, which offers a mere 226bhp and 258lb ft of torque from the single 168kW electric motor driving its rear wheels (a 321bhp AWD variant is also available at a premium) and scoots from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds on its way to 114mph.

 


:: STYLE FOR MILES

The EV6 GT-Line makes an immediate impression in terms of its first-look visual impact, which begins with its minimalist and aggressive looking 'digital tiger face', a fresh EV-orientated take on Kia's 'tiger face' front end styling which reduces the amount of grille on display to a thin strip linking the LED headlights (which feature adaptive beams) and a small central area beneath the front bumper.

And, despite taking design cues from classic metal like the Lancia Stratos in its sweeping, tapered-off roofline, aggressively bulged-out front wings and a duck tail-effect rear spoiler which incorporates a full-width LED light bar, the EV6 is a beefier and more wilfully futuristic looking machine than the more traditional ‘sport hatch’ styled Stinger – its profile is very much 'crossover hatchback/SUV'.

While the forthcoming twin motor-powered and performance-orientated GT has a claimed range of 265 miles (WLTP combined), GT-Line cars can manage a claimed 328 miles (WLTP combined) before the long-range 77.4kWh battery used across the EV6 range will need re-charged.

All EV6s also come with 800V charging technology, enabling it to re-charge from 10 to 80 per cent in 18 minutes from an ultra-rapid charger (good luck finding one here) or a lunch stop-friendly 73 minutes using a 50kW charging point.

 

 

:: TEST DRIVE

On the road, the EV6 GT-Line feels much more nimble than you might expect and cruises delightfully, like all 'GT' cars should. It also feels a lot quicker than its on-paper stats suggest, with plenty of instant acceleration on tap for overtaking situations. The GT-Line benefits from a firm yet forgiving suspension set-up and an adjustable regenerative braking system (via the steering wheel-mounted paddles) with the proper 'one pedal driving' capability all EVs should have when I-Pedal mode is selected.

The car is equipped with a neat highway driving assist system which keeps an electronic eye on the car ahead while ensuring the EV6 remains between those all-important white lines: it will even steer around corners for you, a really cool yet mildly disconcerting feature designed to keep you safe on longer journeys where fatigue may become a factor.

There are three drive modes to choose from, Normal, Sport and Eco, selectable via an easy-to-access Drive Mode button on the bottom of the steering wheel, or via voice control. As you might expect, Sport offers maximum throttle response, while Eco conserves energy to extend driving range.

The EV6 GT-Line definitely feels more like a car than an SUV on the road and, while it's bigger than the Stinger, you don't really notice that extra bulk once underway: indeed, the EV6 is actually less than 100g heavier than its now defunct V6-powered sister despite having a much larger boot and far more room inside the passenger compartment.

It's still a fun car to drive with a heavy right foot, even if it can't hold a candle to the Stinger or the upcoming EV6 GT in terms of fiery performance. And, while the EV6 GT will be an all-wheel-drive machine, the GT-Line in rear-wheel-drive guise at least offers the occasional twinge of steer-from-the rear excitement/terror should you 'accidentally' negotiate a wet roundabout a little too enthusiastically in Sport mode.

 

 

:: SPEC AND TECH

The EV6 is available in Air (from £45,245 OTR), GT-Line (£48,245) and GT-Line S (£52,745) trims, with a choice of rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive on GT-Line and GT-Line S cars.

GT-Line cars have a very well-appointed interior with extremely comfortable front and rear seats and tons of passenger room thanks to the E-GMP's flat-floored 'skateboard' design. They come with a ton of standard equipment which belies the trim's 'mid-range' status: you get heated, ventilated and electrically adjustable premium relaxation seats in suede and vegan leather, a heated steering wheel, twin 12.3-inch touchscreens, Kia Connect functionality with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, wireless smartphone charging, four USB charging ports and three 12V sockets, rain-sensing front wipers and dual automatic air conditioning.

 

 

The touch-sensitive controls for the latter are located in a flat panel below the car's main touchscreen, flanked by a pair of proper twiddly knobs: these also double-up as the controls for the infotainment system depending on which mode is selected. While this set-up is obviously less intuitive than proper clicky buttons, it's pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it.

Driver aids include the aforementioned highway driving assist, an augmented reality head-up display at windscreen level which incorporates driving directions from the navigation system (useful, as one of the car’s few niggles is that the top of the steering wheel may obscure your view of the driver info screen depending on your preferred seating position), lane follow assist, lane keep assist, driver attention warning, front parking sensors, rear parking sensors and reversing camera system with dynamic guidelines, blind-spot collision avoidance assist with rear-cross traffic alert and safe exit assist.

 

 

You also get a generous 490 litres of boot space (1,300 litres with the rear seats folded flat), plus a 'froot' with an additional 52 litres of storage. Combined with a very nicely appointed suede and vegan leather-based interior, which offers plenty of head and leg room for rear passengers – though foot space in the rear is limited due to its low-mounted front seats – this gives the EV6 GT-Line a really well judged mix of comfort, practicality and performance.

:: THE VERDICT

Pricing for the full-bore EV6 GT is expected to start at £62,645 when it launches next year, which means the GT-Line is nearly £15k cheaper for a car that is substantially the same in terms of appearance, onboard tech and interior finish/comfort, with longer range.

Unless you really need to be burning Porsches off at the lights, this means that the EV6 GT-Line is an obvious choice for anyone in need of a comfortable, cool-looking and family-friendly electric vehicle – especially one that comes with Kia's unrivalled seven-year/100,000 mile warranty package.

Plus, you can always put all that money you've saved towards the cost of a second-hand Stinger.

:: AT A GLANCE: Kia EV6 GT-Line

  • Price (OTR): £48,245
  • Powertrain: 77.4kWh lithium-ion battery, 168kW permanent magnet synchronous motor (rear wheel drive), one-speed auto
  • Max power: 226bhp, 258lb ft
  • Acceleration 0-62 mph: 7.3 seconds
  • Max Speed: 114mph
  • Range: 459 miles (WLTP city) / 328 miles (WLTP combined)
  • Kerb weight: 1,985kg
  • Co2 Emissions: 0 g/miles
  • Insurance group: 34A
  • Euro NCAP Rating: Five stars
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