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First drive: 2024 Kia EV9. Image by Kia.

First drive: 2024 Kia EV9
Can Kiaís monster electric SUV bridge the gap between premium and mainstream models with space and style?

   



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2024 Kia EV9

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

Kia has been battling expectations since it came to the UK more than 30 years ago, but the EV9 is perhaps one of the greatest indications of how far it has come. Far from building cheap hatchbacks for the masses, this is a semi-premium SUV with a thoroughly modern electric powertrain and, in this range-topping form, a price tag of almost £80,000. If that isn't confidence, we don't know what is, but the question is whether that confidence is misplaced. Can the EV9 really justify its price point?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater
Price: £78,775 as tested
Engine: two electric motors
Battery: 99.8kWh lithium-ion
Transmission: single-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Power: 383hp
Torque: 700Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 313 miles
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 87mph
Boot space: 333-2,393 litres (plus 52-litre frunk)

Styling

The EV9 is nothing if not enormous, and it makes no attempts to hide its bulk. Yet somehow, it isnít hideous. Sure, there are vast expanses of metal everywhere Ė obviously Ė but with those futuristic LED light designs inherited from the much smaller Niro, it still looks quite fresh and spaceship-ish. Admittedly, the enormity will put some prospective buyers off, but as massive SUVs go, this is far from the ugliest. And though those wheels are essentially just plastic hub caps, itís still a smart and crisp piece of design.

Interior

Naturally, given the EV9's thoroughly modern exterior, Kia has had to apply much the same thinking to the interior. Massive seats wrapped in artificial leather, three-zone climate control and seven seats make it quite well equipped, but the style really comes from the dashboard. There, you'll find a pretty minimalist layout with a massive central screen and a digital instrument display, as well as an enormous four-spoke steering wheel.

The wheel is, perhaps, the least minimalist thing in there, as it's festooned with buttons, but it feels upmarket and even semi-premium. The overall design is modern, rather than luxurious, but the build quality is difficult to fault and the materials, although they're mostly eco-friendly, feel pretty tactile for the most part. The cabin does take a bit of getting used to, particularly with the column-mounted start button and gear selector, but there are far worse ergonomic crimes out there

The tech is good, too, with the two-screen layout really turning out to be three screens. The leftmost screen is the infotainment system, which is clear and easy to use, while to the right of that is an integrated climate control screen. In truth, it's a bit too small and fiddly, but at least it's always there, instead of being hidden away as it would be in a Peugeot. Then there's the digital instrument cluster, which is easily configurable and perfectly sharp, providing all the information you really need.

Our six-seat test car, however, came with a bit of a party piece in the shape of its two captain's chairs, which swivel to create so-called 'club' seating in the rear, with the two middle-row passengers facing those in the rearmost seats. It's a cool feature that gives the EV9 the feel of an executive airport transfer. And strangely, we don't mean that as an insult.

Practicality

Given the EV9's immense size, it shouldn't come as a surprise to find plenty of space on board. Our test car was a range-topping six-seater, so it had two moving 'captain's chairs' in the second row, but there was still plenty of space for six adults to sit in comfort, as long as nobody got too greedy for legroom. Admittedly, sliding the two middle seats all the way back makes for a pretty lousy amount of space in the rearmost row, but it would make excellent executive transport. And even with the back seats upright, there's still space for 333 litres' worth of luggage. Fold the two back seats down, and the boot becomes positively enormous.

Performance

The EV9 is offered with a choice of two different powertrains, with the least expensive option being the rear-wheel-drive, single-motor car. That EV9 combines a single, 203hp electric motor and a 99.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which should be perfectly adequate for most. After all, a 9.4-second 0-62mph time is perfectly adequate for a big family bus.

But those who want all-wheel-drive can choose the two-motor version tested here. With an extra motor positioned on the front axle (to complement the rear motor), the all-wheel-drive EV9 is considerably more powerful than the single-motor version, taking the output to a hefty 383hp. That means the 0-62mph time is cut to a pretty rapid 5.3 seconds, putting the EV9 on a par with most hot hatchbacks.

In truth, it doesnít feel that fast Ė itís more brisk than quick Ė but thatís probably something to do with the carís enormous bulk. Anyway, range is arguably more important, and on that front the EV9 fares well. Whichever motor layout you pick, you get the same 99.8kWh battery, so the single-motor car provides a range of 349 miles on the official economy test, while the two-motor version comes in at 313 miles. Even on a long motorway run in winter using the two-motor car, we managed the best part of 250 miles between charges, so over a mixture of roads and in better weather, we can well believe the EV9ís claim.

Unless youíre going a really long way, then, charging wonít be necessary. But if you do need to fill up the battery away from home, you wonít have to wait too long. Using a 350kW charging point, the battery can be topped up from 10 to 80 per cent in just 24 minutes, and even a 50kW charging point will manage the same feat in less than an hour and a half. Given 80 per cent of a charge should provide around 200 miles of range even on the motorway, that should be ample for most.

Ride & Handling

Given the EV9's bulk, this is a car you expect to be comfortable, rather than sporty, and so it proves. The ride is generally pretty cosseting, but the car's weight does show through more often than you might like, and it seems to weather some sharper imperfections with less confidence than others. It never feels firm or jagged in the way a sportier car might, but it adds a brittleness that we were hoping would be absent.

And although the EV9 isn't sporty at all, it drives quite pleasantly. There isn't much steering feel or even that sharp a response from the nose, but it all feels linear and controlled, and though the car rolls a bit in corners, it doesn't wallow or lurch about, which means the experience shouldn't make you seasick. Nevertheless, the car is at its best on a motorway, where the surface is relatively smooth and the sound well deadened, so you can waft along in peace and serenity.

Value

The EV9 may be a Kia, but it isn't cheap. Prices start at £65,025 for the basic rear-drive Air model, but that pays for 19-inch alloy wheels, a 360-degree manoeuvring camera, and heated and ventilated front seats. Combine that with climate control, safety kit and satellite navigation, and it's a fairly all-encompassing specification. But then it should be, when it costs almost as much as a BMW iX. Okay, the Kia gets seven seats as standard, but the iX is still a slightly more premium product.

That said, once you start to look at more upmarket versions of the EV9, complete with all-wheel-drive and, in the case of our range-topping test car, the six-seat luxury layout, it does start to feel even more premium. But it never quite has the luxury of a Genesis, let alone a Mercedes-Benz, and that will hold it back in the eyes of some prospective buyers. Especially when such high-spec EV9s will set you back more than £77,000 before you even look at the options list.

Verdict

By any measure, the EV9 is a really nice car. You can't knock the design, inside or out, and there's nothing wrong with the equipment or the electric powertrain. All big ticks so far, but when faced with a near-£79,000 asking price, even for a car this good, your mind starts to wander. Other cars cost the same amount and come with a bit more kudos and a bit more luxury, so as good as the EV9 is, it isn't an especially easy sell.



James Fossdyke - 23 Feb 2024



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2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line S AWD 6-Seater. Image by Kia.








 

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