Kia EV6 GT review: Dancing on ice
We enter Oslo’s sprawling Kia dealership and there, parked in pride of place, is an immaculate Sephia saloon. Sold as the Mentor in the UK, it’s an instantly forgettable minicab-in-the-making. Back in 1994, however, this was the first modern Kia that wasn’t simply a Mazda in a South Korean suit.
Outside the showroom window, recharged and raring to go, is an EV6 GT. Kia’s new flagship is a 585hp electric crossover with Porsche-baiting performance (0-62mph in 3.5 seconds) and a price tag of £62,645. The gulf between the two cars could hardly be greater.
A low nose and rakish coupe roofline do lend the EV6 an aura of budget Porsche Taycan. It’s also entirely different to the retro-look Hyundai Ioniq 5, which shares the same E-GMP platform. You can spot the GT chiefly by its neon green brake callipers, along with restyled bumpers and 21-inch alloy wheels.
Going for Gol
Leaving Oslo and its bewildering ring road behind, our plan is to head north, carving between jagged hills and snow-carpeted valleys, to a frozen fjord near the ski resort of Gol. There, we’ll put the GT’s drifting ability to the test on a challenging ice driving circuit. All in the name of consumer research, of course.
Norway has the highest density of electric cars in the world, and 88 percent of Kias sold here are EVs. By law, major roads must have a rapid charger every 50 kilometres (31 miles), but the GT’s 263-mile range is enough to reach Gol in one hit. When its 77.4kWh battery does run low, 350kW charging capability means a 10-80 percent top-up takes just 18 minutes.
Supportive, suede-trimmed seats and a refined ride take the edge off hours of steady driving, watched over by Norway’s many speed cameras. Finally, we turn off for the fjord, and the road suddenly resembles a rally stage. On hard-packed snow, the Michelin Pilot Sport tyres fitted to UK cars would be near-useless, but the Scandi-spec Nokian winter rubber offers superb traction.
Dancing on ice
The ice that covers the tranquil Tisleifjorden is nearly a metre thick: reassuring when you’re inside a 2,165kg SUV. I grab a coffee in the hospitality tent – powered by an electric Kia Niro – then cross to a small oval track. Here, we can practise car control, slaloming on the straights and drifting around the bends, before we attempt the two-mile circuit.
The lake surface is sheet ice dusted with a loose layer of powder, so even standing up straight isn’t easy. Yet with the Kia’s default stability systems activated, you can drive like a hooligan and it simply refuses to spin. Factor in the EV6 GT’s beefed-up brakes and electronic limited-slip diff, and I’m soon brimming with a cocky sense of self-confidence.
That melts away when the systems are switched off. Having 546lb ft of torque from a standstill makes the car easy to coax into a slide, but holding it there is far trickier. Find the right combination of steering input and throttle angle and it will dance in graceful arcs like a figure skater. But flex your right ankle too early and you’ll end up beached on a snowbank. As I did, several times.
The full circuit is tightly coiled and much narrower. There’s no space for showboating here; choosing the right line is vital to staying off the snow. With its calm balance and urgent speed, driving the EV6 GT feels like being at the eye of a storm. It’s exhilarating and exhausting, and definitely the most fun I’ve had in an electric car.
That might sound like damning with faint praise. But while it’s true that even a Kia Mentor (née Sephia) would be fun on a frozen lake, the EV6 GT is something else entirely: a fitting flagship for a company that has come so far, so fast. Back in 1994, we’d never have believed it.
Tim Pitt writes for Motoring Research
TOP SPEED: 162mph
BATTERY SIZE: 77.4kWh
RANGE: 263 miles