The EV9 is Kia’s biggest, most expensive and most luxurious car ever – by a long way.
It’s a six or seven seat fully electric SUV that has range of more than 300 miles. Prices start at £65,000 and the top spec version I drove cost a hefty £76,000.
Who on Earth is going to pay 76 grand for a Kia? Quite a lot of people, I suspect. Before the car even went on sale Kia had taken more than 800 pre-orders.
Very slightly longer and almost as wide as a Range Rover Vogue, it is a gigantic beast. Having spent half a day in one, I can confirm it is almost as luxurious as a Range Rover. Given that car starts at £110,000, suddenly the Kia doesn’t seem bad value at all.
I travelled to Inverness for the UK launch of the EV9. It is a huge but handsome car, with a chunky, utilitarian shape augmented by unashamedly futuristic details such as the narrow, vertical headlights.
The hugeness continues under the skin where you’ll find a 99.9kWh battery – one of the biggest batteries on any electric car in the UK.
Entry level models are rear wheel drive and have 200bhp, a 0-62mph time of 9.4 seconds, and a range of 349 miles. These versions aren’t in the UK yet but will join the line up early in the new year.
The model I drove was the top spec GT-Line S version, which has two electric motors and is four wheel drive. Power jumps to 380bhp and 0-62mph drops to just 5.3 seconds. Range takes a small hit but is still a respectable 313 miles.
I drove the six seat version, which has three rows of captain’s chairs. These big armchairs are extremely comfortable and give all six occupants acres of space.
The middle seats even rotate so passengers can face forwards or backwards if they want to speak to people behind them.
With all six or seven seats in play there’s still as much boot space as you’d find in a Ford Fiesta.
Drop the rearmost row of seats and there’s a gargantuan 800+ litres back there. There’s also a 52 litre space under the bonnet for storing charging cables.
The interior quality is by far the best I’ve ever seen in a Kia. The artificial leather seats feel like the real thing. There is a 12.3in touchscreen, a 12.3in digital driver’s display, and a 5.3in climate control screen.
On higher spec models you get electric seats that are heated and cooled and have a massage function, a panoramic sunroof, a 14 speaker Meridian sound system, and lots else.
Indeed, the EV9 is so well equipped that the only option is a choice of colour.
I took the EV9 on a 3.5 hour jaunt around some of the Highlands’ most spectacular scenery. My route took me on a loop to Kyle of Lochalsh where we stopped at the stunning Eilean Donan Castle for refreshments.
Sensibly, Kia has not tried to make the EV9 as dynamic as a Range Rover or a BMW X5. Instead they’ve aimed for comfort – and succeeded. The EV9 is such a luxurious and refined car it’s hard to believe it wears the Kia badge.
Ride quality is superb, with potholes, bumps and undulations all absorbed as if they weren’t there. Wind and tyre noise are barely audible and, of course, there’s no engine noise. The list of cars I’ve driven that are more comfortable than the EV9 is very short.
On a cold and gloomy mid-December day I had the heater up high and the heated seats and steering wheel on. And I spent lots of time enjoying the 5.3 second 0-62mph time.
After covering 155 miles the battery was sitting at around 35%. You can expect a 250 mile range during the depths of winter and should be able to cover 300 miles between charges in summertime.
Find a 350kW charger and the EV9 will go from 10-80% in under 25 minutes, which is exceptionally rapid. Of course, there are only a handful of such chargers in Scotland but the network is improving all the time.
The EV9 is a huge and hugely impressive car. Launching a £75,000 luxury SUV with the Kia badge on its nose is a big gamble but I expect it will pay off. Anyone stepping into the EV9 from a Range Rover, Audi Q7 or BMW X5 will not be disappointed by the quality.
It’s a superb flagship model for Kia.
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Top speed: 124mph
Range: 313 miles
CO2 emissions: 0g/km