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First Drive: Kia’s EV9 aims to blend battery tech with traditional SUV spaciousness

The EV9 arrives as Kia’s new flagship
The EV9 arrives as Kia’s new flagship

What is it?

Kia EV9
A long wheelbase is how the EV9 can offer so much interior space

Kia has radically altered its presence in the market over the last few years. No longer relegated to creating only low-cost, budget-focused models it has quickly switched to developing cars that are a little more upmarket and a little more desirable. Its range of electric vehicles is core to this while the vehicle we’re looking at today – the EV9 – takes things a step further.

Building on the sterling reputation of the EV6, the EV9 puts a greater emphasis on practicality while targeting an area of the market which has been left relatively untapped – battery-powered seven-seaters. We’ve been finding out what it’s like.

What’s new?

Kia EV9
The aero wheels catch the eye

Like the EV6, you could argue that the EV9 is something of an innovator. Based around a platform developed specifically for battery-powered models, it’s packed full of cool features and clever tech designed to make everyday driving a little easier. Core to the EV9’s appeal, however, is its range – but more on that later.

Inside, it’s easy to see that the EV9 has been designed to prove useful at all times. Logical controls, simple-to-operate folding seats and lots of robust materials put this squarely into the family car market yet with its futuristic looks it’s hardly what you’d call fusty.

What’s under the bonnet?

Kia EV9
The EV9 can accept a very high rate of charge

We’re driving the EV9 in its entry-level ‘Air’ configuration, but just because of this don’t go thinking it’ll offer some sort of paltry range. Instead, we’ve got a whopping 99.8kWh battery – one of the largest about – which aims to deliver up to 349 miles of range and Kia says this could be boosted to up to 480 miles if you’re mainly doing around-town driving.

With 200bhp and 350Nm of torque, it’s not the most powerful of setups, but it’s still enough to send the EV9 from 0-60mph in 9.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 114mph which are both figures which seem spot-on for this size of car. Plus, because the EV9 can accept a top-whack charge speed of 350kW, you could sort a 10 to 80 per cent charge in as little as 24 minutes. Expect around nine hours for a complete overnight charge via a regular home wallbox, too. We wouldn’t bother trying a three-pin plug to top-up; Kia says going down this route would require over 40 hours to fully charge the battery.

What’s it like to drive?

First things first – the EV9 is a very, very large car. Park it next to even a mid-size SUV and it’ll practically dwarf it, so just bear this in mind if you’re often doing lots of busy urban driving. However, once you’re up to speed the EV9 doesn’t feel hamstrung by its size, as it manages to cruise down the road impressively well. Likewise in the bends the EV9 corners far flatter than you’d expect a car of this size and weight to do.

One thing which really impresses is the EV9’s refinement. It’s wonderfully quiet – particularly on the motorway – and while the performance isn’t as sharp as we’ve come to expect from other dual-motor EVs, there’s enough to tap into to get you up to speed in good enough time.

How does it look?

Kia EV9
Given its size, the EV9 corners remarkably well

The EV9 is definitely going to get people talking, wherever you park it. During our time with the car, comments varied from the very positive to the very negative, with this Kia’s edgy front end being an area which drew quite a lot of attention. Regardless of your opinion, the EV9’s design shows a continuation of the approach that we’ve seen on the EV6, so it’s nice to have some distinct family lineage.

As mentioned earlier, it is a very large car at just over five metres long, and given that it tips the scales at a fraction over three tonnes, it’s not lightweight, either.

What’s it like inside?

Kia EV9
The interior has lots of solid materials

There’s lots to like about the EV9’s interior. Because of that EV-focused architecture, its design hasn’t been dictated by the location of engine running gear leaving a completely flat floor which opens up acres of space. Legroom is great for all rows and there are lots of charge points to keep everyone’s devices fully topped up. Up front, there’s a good view and loads of cubbies to ensure that the interior can be kept as tidy as possible.

When it comes to boot space, the EV9 is just as capacious as you’d expect a car of this size to be. Even with all seats in place, there are 333 litres to play with, while fold down both rows and you free up an impressive 2,381 litres. Handily, there’s also a ‘frunk’ at the front, which incorporates 90 litres of space – though it’s perfect for storing the charging cables in.

What’s the spec like?

Kia EV9
Folding the seats down unlocks a huge amount of boot space

Kia has always been generous with the equipment levels on its cars and the EV9 is no different. There’s a 12.3-inch infotainment screen as standard, matched by a driver’s display of the same size. They’re intuitive to use and easy to operate, though we’d like the EV9’s assistance systems to be slightly less intrusive and easier to deactivate – one criticism of this car is that it’s very noise-heavy, letting you know when it perceives anything to be wrong. Quite often, you just want to drive in quiet and it’s hard to get the EV9 to that point without delving through the screens.

Even at this ‘Air’ level, you get heated and ventilated front and second-row seats, too, alongside 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and vehicle-to-load functionality which allows you to power domestic devices using a three-pin plug in the car. Prices kick off at £65,025, too, which is expensive but given the equipment aboard and the level of tech, doesn’t seem completely overboard.

Verdict

The EV9 is yet another example of Kia’s growing market-leading approach to electric vehicles. It’s well designed, spacious inside and superbly refined to drive but delivers this while offering a very usable amount of range. We’d like fewer shouty systems, for sure, but bongs aside the EV9 is a car that would very easily slip into family duties without any hesitation.

While there is a quicker dual-motor EV9 version we’d argue that this standard ‘Air’ version is the pick of the bunch; it keeps this Kia’s price down to acceptable levels while unlocking the best possible range.

  • Model as tested: Kia EV9
  • Price as tested: £65,025
  • Engine: Single electric motor
  • Power: 200bhp
  • Torque: 350Nm
  • Max speed: 114mph
  • 0-60mph: 9.2 seconds
  • MPG: NA
  • Emissions: 0g/km
  • Range: 349 miles
  • Max charging speed: 350kW