Car Reviews Motoring

Kia EV9 Review

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Kia has a new kingpin in the form of its latest all-electric vehicle, the EV9, which has dethroned the Sorento as the brand’s long-serving largest car.

The EV9 – giant by nature – also has other leviathans in its sights, hoping to knock the premium brands off their perch, such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, not to mention aiming for customers who might otherwise want a Tesla.

So, has Kia done enough to win this David versus Goliath battle?

As a manufacturer, it’s certainly no slouch nowadays, having forged a reputation for building well-equipped, reasonably priced, reliable family cars which exceed expectations.

Admittedly, ‘fairly priced’ might raise a few eyebrows, given this is the most expensive Kia ever. Still, the EV9 hopes to be taken seriously as a rival to the biggest names in the business.

The EV9 is offered in three versions, with the latest entry-level Air trim available with 202PS and rear-wheel drive from its single electric motor.

It also comes well-equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels, 12.3-inch screens for the EV9’s digital instrument cluster and infotainment, and a 5.3-inch screen dedicated to the climate control system.

Luxuries include heated, ventilated front seats, a 360-degree around-view monitor, keyless entry, electrically adjustable folding door mirrors, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and automatic headlights.

The equally new GT-Line and top-of-the-tree GT-Line S get 383PS thanks to their dual motor configuration, including all-wheel drive.

Regarding equipment, the GT-Line gets giant 21-inch rims, LED headlights with adaptive driving beams, electrically adjustable front ‘premium relaxation’ seats with driver memory function, electric steering adjustment, and GT-Line exterior styling.

The GT-Line S bolts on a head-up display, a Meridian premium sound system with no fewer than 14 speakers, and a tilting and sliding sunroof.

All models are seven-seaters, although the GT-Line S is exclusively available as a six-seater version, too. It has second-row ‘swivel’ seats that can face backwards to face the third-row seats and a sliding table for added luxury.

The EV9 is boxy in shape, looking like it’s been inspired by the Range Rover of about 15 years ago. That shouldn’t be interpreted as meaning it looks dated, though – far from it.

Instead, there’s a blanked-off panel where a grille would usually be, and the light arrangement is very showy, both at the front and rear.

Aggressive indentations around the side, along with flush door handles, really complete the look.

Is it pretty? Well, that’s in the eye of the beholder, but opinions at the latest EV9 press launch ranged from “menacingly futuristic” to “downright ghastly”, so take your pick.

Inside, though, it’s lovely indeed, with a light grey colour scheme that’s a welcome departure from the darkened cabins of most manufacturers.

As is the current style, minimalism is the order of the day, with few buttons (except on the bold, horizontally-spoked steering wheel) and no fewer than the three screens we mentioned earlier.

They all sit next to each other in one unit, and the infotainment system is pleasingly good to use, albeit not quite a match for the best brands in the business.

Sustainable, recycled materials adorn the cabin, too, not that you’d notice – it has a fresh feel and appears solidly screwed together.

When it comes to pace, comparing the Air version with the GT-Line and GT-Line S is like measuring up chalk and cheese.

While the Air version, with its single motor, takes a leisurely 9.4 seconds to do 0-62mph, the other two manage the same in just 5.3 seconds.

While no SUV is excellent when it comes to handling, Kia has pushed the focus to the other end of the spectrum, notably the EV9’s ride comfort, which is impressive and adept at absorbing lumps and bumps in the road.

The steering wheel is effortlessly light, and the adjustable regenerative braking found in all-electric cars feels consistent and intuitive.

Regarding space, the EV9 isn’t just practical for an all-electric car – it’s practical full-stop.

There is so much space inside that seven adults can comfortably fit, even in the traditionally cramped third row.

All the seats are comfortable, too, especially if you opt for the new GT-Line trim, which comes with premium relaxation seats.

Rearward visibility is a slight problem, partly caused by the bodywork, which goes from horizontal to diagonal at the sides towards the back of the car. However, the surround-view monitor and parking sensors at both ends help.

Looking forward, the driving position is pleasingly high-up, as you’d expect in a large SUV. This provides excellent visibility out of the windscreen, helped by Kia keeping the pillars as thin as possible.

Even with all seven seats in place, there are around 333 litres of space on offer, increasing to 2,318 litres with the third row of seats down. You’ll also get an additional 75 litres if you opt for the six-seater version.

A ‘front boot’ underneath the bonnet provides an extra 52 litres of storage space in the GT versions or 90 litres in the Air model.

You will also find many places to store smaller items in the cabin.

Expect ongoing costs to be pleasing. Despite the high cost of electricity today, you’ll still be making savings compared with topping up an equivalent petrol or diesel car at the pumps.

If you’re a company car user, the EV9 is very attractive. Thanks to its zero emissions, it comes in the bottom band for Benefit In Kind tax.

A large 99.8kWh battery is installed in all versions, good enough for a 349-mile range on a full charge in the Air version, while this figure reduces to 313 miles in the GT-Line and GT-Line S, accounting for the all-wheel drive and second motor.

You might think such a large battery will take ages to charge – and it does if you plug it into a 7kW wall box at home. It takes around 15 hours to top up from 0 to 100%.

But if you can find a public charger fast enough, its maximum 350kW charging speed means you can achieve a 10-80% fill-up in just 24 minutes.

The Kia EV9 is a very tempting buy that offers something different.

It is phenomenally practical, has super-quick charging speeds and impressive range and is superbly well-equipped!

Fast Facts – Kia EV9 ‘GT-Line S’ 99.8kWh AWD (7-seater) – as tested:

  • Max speed: 124 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 5.3 secs
  • Electric range: 313
  • Battery/Motor: 99.8kWh/twin motor
  • Max. power (PS): 383
  • CO2: 0 g/km
  • Price: £76,025.

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