Are electric cars fun?
It’s a question that’s being asked more and more as manufacturers gradually shift from combustion-engined machinery to all-electric models.
Predictably, the big shift is in mainstream family vehicles that, petrol or electric, don’t set the pulse racing. There are outliers - the £1.62 million Rimac or six-figure Porsche Taycan - but most EVs have been fairly run-of-the-mill SUVs or hatchbacks.
But mainstream car makers are starting to explore the “fun” end of EV motoring in the shape of cars like the Ford Mustang Mach-e GT, the Skoda Enyaq vRS and the Kia EV6 GT.
Which is how I found myself at a cold and damp Hockenheimring being gently chided by a very patient racing driver as I, yet again, spun Kia’s 577bhp range-topping EV in a messy circle as I tried to drift it.
The EV6 GT is the spiritual if not literal successor to the Kia Stinger GT-S so to show how the GT strand is moving into the electric age, Kia lined up a fleet of both cars and some suitably damp tarmac for a day of going sideways.
The Stinger GT-S is an old-school rear-wheel-drive saloon with a muscular 3.3-litre V6 in place of the more sensible 2.2-litre diesel. Likewise, the EV6 GT is based on the regular EV6 family crossover, just with everything turned up to 11.
The two motors generate 577bhp and 546lb ft of torque, directed to all four wheels for a potential 0-62mph time of 3.5 seconds - that’s Porsche Taycan GTS fast - and a top speed of 162mph. The brakes have been upgraded to keep all that muscle in check and the suspension lowered and stiffened to bring more body control to this two-tonne crossover. Visually, the GT isn’t hard to spot thanks to its bright green brake callipers, unique front and rear bumpers, diffuser and monstrous 21-inch alloys.
Driven sensibly, the EV6 GT will cover 252 miles in the same refined comfort as the regular EV6, with plenty of space for five in its high-tech cabin. But we’re not at a wet race track to drive sensibly…
In the old-fashioned Stinger you deactivate all the boring safety stuff like stability control with the press of a button. In the EV6 it is more complicated. You can access the most focused road mode - GT - via a simple paddle pull but there’s more, accessed via a sequence of button presses and pedal inputs that reminds me of the complex cheat codes on a 1990s games console. Only in the EV6’s case you don’t unlock more lives or extra ammo, you set the car to Drift Mode.
This shifts most of the power and torque to the rear wheels and changes its behaviour from riotously fast but controlled all-wheel-drive to ridiculously tail-happy lunatic. Excellent.
Starting out on a simple slalom where we learn the basis of weight transfer and throttle control, the EV6’s ferocity is instantly clear. While the Stinger’s responses are quick enough the EV6’s are lightning fast and before I know it I’m missing the first turn-in point and ruining my line. Still a few more goes and I’m getting a feel for it.
At which point it’s time to hit the drift pan. Here, the power of the EV6 GT remains apparent and addictive but doesn’t make for easy progress. The immediacy of the throttle and 546lb ft of instant torque means a twitch of the foot will see you go almost instantly from understeer to spinning in circles. But given time and plenty of patient guidance, it’s possible to flick the GT’s back end out and hold it there, sliding in a wide circle like a shark on ice and feeling like some sort of motoring hero.
As ever, just as I’m starting to get the hang of going gracefully in circles it’s time to call it a day but not before a drag race down a greasy and increasingly cold stretch of tarmac alongside the main track. In both cars, clever systems flatter the clod-footed. The Stinger’s launch control involves mashing the throttle while holding brake then releasing it and allowing the traction systems to work their magic. The EV6 GT is even simpler - bury your right foot and a spaceship’s worth of processing power will adeptly manage the power and torque distribution across all four wheels.
That results in you surging forward seamlessly, accompanied by the squirrelly squeal of tyres and electronic whine of the motors. It’s fast - just as fast as the Stinger over several runs - but the Stinger feels more dramatic. The straining of the brakes on the start line, the roar of the V6 as you take off and the abrupt slam of the gearshifts all adding to the moment.
That’s a fair reflection of the reality of EVs. The EV6 GT proves they can be fun. It’s eye-opening quick, with immediate steering and a surprising agility for such a big vehicle. And with space and time to get to know it, it’ll put a smile on your face going straight ahead or sideways. But despite the pace, poise and abilities, it still lacks the analogue thrill of a good ICE car.
Kia EV6 GT
Price: £62,645 Motor: Two synchronous electric motors; Battery: 77.4kWh; Power: 577bhp; Torque: 546lb ft; Transmission: Single-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive; Top speed: 162mph; 0-62mph: 3.5 seconds; Range: 252 miles (TBC); Consumption: TBC; Charging: up to 350kW