We road test the Kia EV9 – the stellar South Korean brand’s all-new, all-electric flagship SUV
With its concept car looks, long range and effortless drive, the Kia EV9 is quite the statement.
About the same size as a BMW X5, it’s available as a six or seven-seater – the former sporting swivelling middle-row seats.
Priced from £65,025, it’s expensive for a Kia, but you sure get big bang for your bucks. The big question is – will it tempt buyers away from prestige EV rivals from the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz?
First impressions couldn’t be better. It’s an epic car with a bold, boxy design that focuses on maximising interior space and passenger comfort. And despite its size, the EV9 looks much better in the metal than it does in pictures.
Previewing Kia’s future design direction, the combination of a long wheelbase and completely flat floor creates generous space for all in the three rows of seats.
And even with all the seats occupied, there’s still 333 litres of cargo space – expanding to a superb 828 litres with the third-row seats flipped, or an enormous 2,320 litres with the second and third-row seats folded down.
The Kia EV9 is equally impressive on a technical level. All models in the range come with a large 99.8kWh battery, and there are two electric motor options.
First up is the 201bhp Single Motor model that powers the rear wheels. Or step up to the Dual Motor all-wheel drive EV9, which has 378bhp and a massive 516lb ft of torque. If economy trumps performance on your tick-list, then the former delivers a claimed 349 miles of range, while the flagship model still offers a respectable 313 miles.
Or to put it another way, the Single Motor can sprint from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds (19-inch wheels), while the more potent model takes just 5.3 seconds (21-inch wheels).
Ultra-fast charging is standard, meaning 154 miles can be added in just 15 minutes. Or to put it another way, a 10-80% charge will take as little as 24 minutes via a 350kW connection. Naturally, it will also charge overnight at home, if you have a wallbox.
The Kia EV9 is generously equipped too, with a three-screen dash layout combining a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, a 12.3-inch driver’s display and a 5.3-inch touchscreen for the climate controls. With a few physical buttons thrown in too, it’s as logical and slick as ever – just what we’ve come to expect from Kia.
There’s also wireless phone charging, Apple and Android connectivity, heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone air conditioning, LED lights all round, a 360-degree camera system, V2L charging, a power tailgate and a three-pin socket in the boot.
I haven’t even mentioned the long list of safety and driver assistance tech which helped to earn the EV9 a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating, or the regenerative braking which is easily adjusted via paddles behind the steering wheel.
The overall build quality is hard to fault, while the interior materials (many of which are recycled) are just the job, though there’s still some way to go for Kia to be challenging the plush interiors of the big German premium brands.
Once you’ve ‘stepped into’ the cabin, it instantly feels spacious and comfortable, with excellent visibility. You don’t feel perched, like some electric SUVs, and there’s plenty of seat adjustment.
I drove the Dual Motor EV9 in GT-Line S spec on a variety of roads around Aberdeen, Inverness and into the Scottish Highlands.
To say progress was relaxed and effortless would be an understatement. It feels big, especially in town and on narrower country roads, but for the most part it’s not an issue and it simply cruises silently along (wind and road noise are hardly noticeable). Ride quality is impressive and the steering is light-yet-accurate.
Despite its bulk, it manages to stay surprisingly flat in more challenging corners, but it would be an exaggeration to call it nimble. Helped by a low centre of gravity, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a 2.6 tonne car.
As you’d except from the AWD system, traction levels are superb. I didn’t get to try the EV9 off-road, but in addition to the steering wheel-activated Eco, Normal and Sport drive modes, there’s also a terrain mode button, giving the options of Mud, Snow and Sand.
There’s no shortage of power either, but if longer range is more important to you, it might be worth going for the Single Motor model.
Freezing conditions probably didn’t help, but after a couple of days with the AWD EV9, average energy consumption was 2.5 miles/kWh, which is a tad disappointing. Nevertheless, that still equates to a tidy real-world range in the late 200s (more in an urban environment), and I’d hope the RWD version would be able to return around 300 miles.
Finally, a quick word about the seating. If you choose the seven-seater (it’s one of the few such EVs on the market), the third row is useable for adults (I managed perfectly well and I’m 5’ 11”) – partly because the second-row bench can slide back and forth.
And the two individual ‘captain’s chair’ seats, which swivel and recline in the six-seater version, are a great gimmick, and certainly add to the car’s wow factor.
Verdict: The cool Kia EV9 is as impressive as it’s big. A statement car if ever there was one, this striking SUV is competitively-priced, spacious and safe; delivering an effortless drive and useable real-world range.
Review in association with www.automotiveblog.co.uk