Motoring and Property Editor
1:00 AM 13th January 2024
Kia EV9 – UK Launch Review
The number of new electric cars on sale in the UK continues to grow almost daily and at the forefront of the march to greener motoring is Korean manufacturer Kia. It’s Niro, Soul and EV6 models have found a dedicated audience, and each one has been easy to recommend. How so you may ask? A combination of relative affordability, coupled with a large and achievable range ticks all the right boxes and then there’s the reassurance of that seven-year warranty for peace of mind.
A raft of new models is expected over the coming years and signalling the new design direction is the recently launched EV9, the company’s most expensive and biggest model to date. Capable of seating up to seven adults in comfort, the bold new look is undoubtedly distinctive. It certainly turns heads.
Prices start at a smidgen over £65,000 and the question I asked myself on the rather long drive to the media launch in Inverness - is it good enough to tempt savvy UK buyers away from their prestige offering from the likes of Land Rover, Audi, and BMW?
The boxy design maximises interior space and there is a choice of six or seven-seater configurations. Choose the former, and you get two rather swish swivelling middle row seats. Luggage space has not been forgotten so even with all chairs occupied, there is still over 300 litres of space available for chattels. Fold all the rear seats away and there’s 2,300 litres of space available. Flexibility is the name of the game, and not only will large families love the space, but I can also see the EV9 being put into service for taxi/chauffeuring services.
In order to move this large and rather heavy car around, all models are fitted with a 99.8kWh battery, though there are two electric motor options. The model I drove had the dual motor all-wheel drive system and for those who like figures, power is a heady 378bhp and torque 516lb ft. The quoted range is 313 miles in ideal conditions. The single motor variant boasts 201bhp and sends power to the rear wheels only and can travel up to 349 miles between charges.
The weather in Scotland was distinctly chilly and my driving companion and I drove the long test route somewhat briskly, so it was no surprise that we couldn’t achieve Kia’s quoted range figures, with around 260 miles being more the order of that day. Warmer weather and a lighter right foot would doubtless have improved on this.
Both models feature the capability to be charged speedily, so find a 350kW charger, rare in my part of the world, and a 10 to 80% charge may take as little as 24 minutes, time enough for a comfort break and a cup of coffee. Most are likely to charge overnight on a 7kW home wall box and take advantage of the many cheaper EV tariffs now available for electric car owners.
Our test route through the Scottish Highlands took in some breathtaking scenery, even if most of it was somewhat shrouded in mist. Dreich I think is the word the locals use to describe it! No matter, for the roads were suitably challenging and the EV9 impressed. Yes, it is no sports car, but corners were taken at a fair old lick and with very little body roll. The low centre of gravity clearly helped in this regard.
Ride comfort, clearly more important in this type of car, impressed and of course the absence of a combustion engine ensured the cabin remained a haven of peace and calm, even at higher speeds. A little wind rustle from around the mirrors perhaps. The commanding driving position ensured that the EV9 was easy to place accurately on some of the narrower lanes and the light steering made low speed manoeuvring a doddle.
Reading the press pack, I can see that Kia quotes a 0 to 62mph sprint time of just 5.3 seconds for the twin motor model and there’s no doubt that there’s power aplenty. Step off from rest is decidedly brisk and overtaking opportunities can be easily grabbed, knowing that the power is there. The brakes will bring things to a quick stop and the level of regeneration can be altered to suit too.
With the roads decidedly greasy, the all-wheel drive system ensured that the power could be safely deployed, and traction always remained excellent. There is a choice of Eco, Normal and Sport modes and it will come as no surprise that I chose the latter. There is also the option of Mud, Sand and Snow modes, which I did not get the opportunity to try.
All Kias are generously equipped these days and the EV9 is no exception. The list is quite exhausting but expect to find LED lighting all round, a 360-degree camera, power tailgate, dual-zone climate control and heated and cooled seats.
A three-screen dash layout is simple enough to use, with a 12.3-inch configurable screen sitting ahead of the driver. A similar size unit is fitted for the infotainment system and the climate control is operated from a smaller 5.3-inch screen.
The quality of materials used is good, with some being recycled and comfort in all seats guaranteed. Large adults will fit in the rearmost seats – I know as I clambered in to test. Middle seats slide, so space can be allocated to the row with most need. With plenty of glass, the cabin is light and airy and the view out excellent. I suspect most buyers will opt for seven seats to maximise the car’s usability.
The EV9 certainly has the ability to impress, both as a conveyor of people and as a capable electric car. The bold design and good driving characteristics should appeal. I hope to try one very soon on local roads.