► First taste of hot Kia EV6
► Riding shotgun with Albert Biermann
► The signs are good…
We already know the Kia EV6 is a very good car. We rate it incredibly highly as it offers loads of cutting-edge tech, solid range figures and fast charging capabilities in a striking package. So we’re a little excited to try the new EV6 GT.
Its promises are great, bundling all of that stuff we love about the regular EV6 versions with Tesla-fighting performance to boot. We got a chance to ride as a passenger with handling whizz Albert Biermann at the wheel, navigating the streets of Frankfurt and blasting off down some of the city’s nearby autobahns.
First and foremost, Kia’s tweaked the look of its do-anything EV. Larger sportier wheels, a subtly aggressive bodykit with an aerodynamic spoiler element at the rear and flashes of neon green paint. Inside, those flashes of green continue with a bespoke GT button on the steering wheel and new, properly huggy bucket seats.
But the GT isn’t some skin-deep poser, the E-GMP platform and various controls have been overhauled to make this hot EV6 suitably, er… hot. A 160kW e-motor sits on the front axle, with a 270kW one on the rear, with the GT developing 577bhp in total and a pretty blistering 3.5sec 0-62mph launch time – only 0.4sec off a Tesla Model 3 Performance.
An electronic limited-slip differential is applied here to help shuffle the power around and 380/360mm front/rear brakes ensure plenty of stopping power. Biermann tells us the EV6 GT runs on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber. ‘And we do all of these things in-house,’ says Biermann. ‘The bucket seats or the e-LSD, for example – we don’t outsource to Recaro or something – that gives us speed and you can adapt easily.’
Even with these upgrades, though, Biermann’s conscious the EV6 doesn’t get too much in the way of the upcoming Ioniq 5 N: ‘we won’t change the Hyundai N philosophy, even if we make an EV or hydrogen car. N is N. Period.
‘But Kia’s GT is a different story – we never claim this is a car for the racetrack; it’s more like. a fast cruiser. With N, we dig much deeper but GT has different priorities.
‘It’s always great to work with the Kia teams. When we started GT, I came here on my first business trip [after joining from BMW] and drove a GT car, then asked ‘what is a GT?’ The car I drove at the time was no GT car! Now though, after loads of development, the GT name really works for Kia. Just look at the Stinger GT.’ And he’s right – while the V6-powered Stinger isn’t a big seller by any stretch, and has its flaws, it introduced a fun handling balance never seen before by a car with a Kia badge on it.
And, even if the two performance arms are differentiated, there’s still customisability and a bit of fun in the EV6 GT. Thumb the anodised green GT button on the steering wheel unleashes the car’s most aggressive state, and you can even customise the parameters to your liking with My Mode. How does Biermann like it? ‘I have the damping in Normal, but everything else in Sport,’ he says.
‘We’ve even added a secret drift mode,’ he grins. ‘Start with it parked, press the GT button, push and hold ESC until it’s fully off, pull and hold both steering wheel paddles and you’re away!’ Duly noted, Mr Biermann…
It absolutely decimates the senses as Biermann stamps on the throttle, launching out of an on-ramp onto the Autobahn. He’s so focused as he carves up through the lanes, taking advantage of the GT’s deep power reserves; you can really feel that 3.5sec 0-62mph sprint time. ‘I did 266km/h (165mph) with some other guys the day before, let’s see if we can hit that again!’ says Biermann as he leans forward. Let’s bear in mind the GT tops out at 260kmh (162mph), and yet Biermann’s pushing for more.
As the speed climbs so effortlessly, and I’m focusing on holding in my lunch, Biermann’s slicing and dicing between cars with aggressive lane changes so he can demonstrate the body control, grumbling about the increasing traffic that day preventing him from a long clear run. We clock 262kmh, but Biermann’s disappointed: ‘I blame the headwind,’ he laughs.
At that speed, it’s understandable that there would be some noise – the wind hits the door mirrors car hard, and that Michelin rubber roars. ‘But the Pilot Sport 4S aren’t exactly known for being a quiet tyre,’ says Biermann, before dropping anchor via the punchy brakes to a more respectable 100mph.
After that cooldown, you can get a better sense of the car at a non-handling guru’s pace. Wind and tyre noise are much more respectable even at a cool ton, and you’re likely to settle into those soft leather bucket seats a little more, too. All the while, Biermann’s waxing lyrical about the E-GMP’s efficiency and technology that outstrips most other rivals: ‘offering such a vehicle with such balance, refinement and with substantial new technology underneath? We won’t see that from other car makers for a while.’
And it’s not just outright acceleration that Biermann’s proud of, too – you can tell his time with his teams developing the GT’s dynamics has been worth it. You can definitely feel the car controlling itself through hard changes of direction, that inner gyroscope in your head unfazed by the low-level body roll and compliance.
Like any EV6, the GT has several steps of energy recouperation you can apply by the steering wheel paddles, with an ‘i-Pedal’ system that allows you to accelerate and brake only using the throttle. ‘We’re still fine-tuning the recuperation,’ says Biermann, ‘but with i-Pedal you get this nice, low weight transfer.
‘I took the first E-GMP cars out many times when I was in Korea. In the morning I’d go out in the mountain roads and I discovered the i-Pedal, you really come into a flow with it when you get off the throttle and get the low transfer in – it’s fantastic. You don’t load the front axle by using the brakes, so the potential of recouperation that has not been fully unleashed yet. You have to be very careful with recouperation – stability is always king, right?’
And at that moment, Biermann had a revelation: ‘Before, I looked at it like it was just an Eco mode – why would I ever drive on i-Pedal? This is for the eco freaks! But then I drove on those mountain roads – I don’t know why I switched on i-Pedal – I thought oh this is cool! Since that day I like it.’ We’d never looked at it that way before, either.
Quick, attractive and well-made inside; even from the passenger seat, there are plenty of things to be impressed by with the new EV6 GT. We’ll have to wait and see what it’s like when we drive it for real.