Kia EV6 vs Volkswagen ID.4 GTX: performance and handling

The EV6 is one of the most fun-to-drive electric cars we’ve tried; in contrast, the ID.4 fails to meet the expectations of the GTX badge

The GTI badge has been around since 1976 and is worn only by Volkswagen’s flagship performance models, most famously the beloved Golf GTI hot hatchback. While the performance-orientated versions of the brand’s electric cars will bear the GTX badge, the 46-year history of VW’s sporty yet practical cars still looms large over this range-topping version of the 2.2-tonne ID.4 SUV. 

As the performance-focused model of the range, the GTX benefits from some tweaks. It rides 15mm lower than any other variant, as well as getting an electronic differential lock to help it deploy the 295bhp and 460Nm of torque on tap from a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup.

Sadly, the driving experience of the GTX left us underwhelmed. Yes, it packs a punch, and throttle response is mildly sharper than in the standard ID.4, but it doesn’t have much in the way of urgency – especially compared to the Kia – so it doesn’t feel that fast from the driver’s seat. Likewise, the handling isn't very exciting. Although the chassis offers plenty of grip and clever electronics keep you in check on the road, the Kia is simply a lot more fun on a twisty road.

Of course, the caveat here is that the GTX Max model, which comes with adaptive dampers, might feel more engaging than our regular GTX test car. But unless it offers a night-and-day transformation, this is still no driver’s car. The GTX is more comfortable than the Kia, though, particularly at low speeds, but it's the same story for the far more affordable versions of the ID.4.

Compared to the difference between a normal Golf and the hotter GTI, which boasts sharper handling, better performance and more grip than the regular hatchback, the ID.4 GTX just doesn’t feel that different from the standard ID.4 on the road.

The Kia, meanwhile, excels on a twisty road, setting itself apart from rivals and its more comfort-focused Hyundai Ioniq 5 sister car. Our dual-motor car has total outputs of 321bhp and 605Nm of torque, which is very impressive. That’s about as much power as a typical hot hatchback and more torque than you get from a BMW M4.

Thanks to those impressive figures, plus the fact that it's lighter than the ID.4, the EV6 delivers rapid acceleration. It'll sprint from 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds – a full second faster than the Volkswagen. However, in terms of both speed and driving enjoyment, the difference between the ID.4 and EV6 feels even greater.

The Kia is a lot of fun on twisty roads, because its motors are very responsive to your inputs, which means you can play with the throttle to adjust your line in corners in a natural way. This is in contrast to the VW, which has dull responses and a rather neutral attitude. The EV6 is one of the most enjoyable electric cars we’ve driven, in fact – it’s grippy and really fast, plus it’s well controlled in bends, with not much body roll to speak of.

There’s a bit of a trade-off, though. The Kia’s ride is slightly firm; not enough to be called unbearable, nor is it an issue on the motorway, but around town and on the bumpy back roads of Britain, its constant fidgeting means the ID.4 is more comfortable. The Kia also suffers from numb steering, although the VW has a similar issue.

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Speaking of motorway cruising, the Kia is good here as well, with wind and road noise both fine. Plus, there’s autonomous driving technology – essentially a fancy version of adaptive cruise control – that's easy to use and doesn’t brake harshly.

Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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