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EV Kia EV9 Review

Kia EV9 GT Line Review

For drivers / 26 March 2024

Forget everything you ever thought about Kia.

The once cheap-and-cheerful Korean car maker has matured to become a genuine pioneer in the transition towards zero emission mobility with an expansive portfolio of electric vehicles.

And its latest addition – the big and bold EV9 seven-seat SUV – is not only the most advanced but challenges the best in the business from established European luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Jaguar.

It is the most expensive model ever sold by Kia in Australia, with the three-model range starting at $97,000 (plus on-road costs) and topping out at $121,000 for the flagship GT Line version we’re testing here.

But it lacks for nothing in terms of equipment, performance, safety, and technology, and is currently the only battery-powered seven-seater available in Australia. So, if you need a super-spacious, eco-friendly SUV for a large family – or to carry big items – then this is it.

As such, the EV9 is a big car, and its bold and boxy aesthetic does nothing to hide its dimensions. Measuring over five metres in overall length and standing almost 1.8m tall and nearly two metres wide, it requires a lot of space – whether that’s on the road, in your garage or an undercover carpark. But it somehow never appears intimidating – like those gargantuan American trucks. Instead, its simple two-box design is accentuated by a uniquely modern style that is both stylish and technical.

All three models share the same fundamental underpinnings, but the entry-level Air is exclusively offered with a single electric motor that produces 160kW/350Nm that drives the rear wheels and a 76.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack which can provide an estimated 443km of driving range on a single charge.

Both the mid-level Earth (which costs $106,500 before on-roads) and the range-topping GT Line have a dual motor configuration with all-wheel drive and a larger, new-generation 99.8kWh battery. They both produce higher outputs (283kW and 700Nm) but have different range estimates: the Earth can travel up to 512km while the GT Line covers fractionally less (505km) owing to the extra drag created by its larger 21-inch alloy wheels.

All three feature high capacity 800V capabilities that allow for ultra-rapid charging, with the battery able to be replenished from 10-80 percent in just 20 minutes on a 350kW charger.

They also have vehicle-to-load functionality where you can use the battery power to plug-in other electrical appliances or recharge portable devices like e-scooters, e-bikes, and even other electric vehicles. Owners can also use the EV9 to provide electricity to their household in the event of a power outage.

They also come with a comprehensive suite of advanced safety systems as standard, including autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, highway driving assistance, lane keeping, blind spot detection and a driver monitor.

All Kia EV9 models have airbag coverage for occupants in all three rows, as well as a centre airbag between the driver and front-seat passenger and score a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating.

The GT Line picks-up a few extra safety features, including Matrix LED front headlamps, parking collision avoidance, remote parking and digital side and rear-view mirrors.

Even at the entry point, the EV9 Air has an extensive list of creature comforts and the latest in digital technology. Standard equipment on all models includes artificial leather trim, three-zone climate control, heated front seats, and twin 12.3-inch digital displays with a unique 5.0-inch module in between dedicated to the ventilation controls. The infotainment system features embedded sat nav, wireless phone charging, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone mirroring, DAB+ digital radio and an eight-speaker audio system.

On top of all of that, the GT Line has premium ‘relaxation’ front seats that can recline (perfect for a rest while charging), sunblinds on the rear door windows, a twin glass sunroof, 64-colour ambient interior lighting, an augmented reality heads-up display and a premium 14-speaker Meridien sound system.

It packs a lot of stuff onto its specifications list, some of which would be optional extras on more expensive models, that helps to justify its price tag and position.

But really, there is no alternative to the EV9 when it comes to space.

If you think it looks big on the outside, then you’ll be amazed by how much room there is inside the cabin. Those in the front are treated to comfortable and supportive seats that are both heated and ventilated and have plenty of adjustment – and an even an automated massage function for the driver, which is a nice surprise on a long journey. There is heaps of useful storage space too, simple and physical controls for often-used functions like climate settings and audio and a commanding view of the road ahead.

The middle row can slide forward to provide more room for those in the back, but even in its most restrictive position, there is enough legroom for adults to travel without any compromise. Access to the third row is via a simple one-touch button that tilts the seat forward and, while it is only suitable for two, there’s plenty of space for young adults.

With all seats in place, the EV9 still provides decent cargo capacity with a 573L boot that expands to 1233L as a five-seater and almost doubles to 2314L when just the front seats are being used. Plus, there’s additional storage under the bonnet with a small front trunk – or frunk – that is big enough for a small day bag.

While the EV9 is impressive to look at, it is even more outstanding to drive. If it didn’t have a big Kia badge on the steering wheel reminding you of its origins, it could easily be mistaken for a European luxury car.

Electric cars, by their very nature, are more refined than conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines. Eliminating all the noisiness and vibrations of a petrol engine, while producing an instant and seamless stream of performance, makes all EVs feel more sophisticated. However, the serenity can showcase other shortcomings that might go unnoticed.

But there is very little to criticise about the way the EV9 drives. Sure, it is a big car, and its sheer size makes it a little more difficult to navigate through heavy traffic, narrow roads and tight car parks, yet, at the same time, it never feels like a big car.

Similar sized seven-seaters often drive like a boat with soft suspension set-ups and a high centre of gravity making them roll through the corners. They feel cumbersome and heavy. But not the EV9. Instead, it is surefooted and stable, sits flat and steers confidently – making it handle like a much smaller car than it actually is.

It can quick when you need it to be, with massive punch as soon as you stand on the throttle (which is probably too sensitive, and a little out of character, in its Sport mode), but, for the most part, it sails along smoothly with excellent ride comfort and positive, well-weighted steering.

If anything, the incessant ‘beeping’ from the overzealous speed limit warning (which can be turned off through the digital screen each time you start the car) can be annoying, and the digital side mirrors take some time to become familiar with. The passenger-side screen is okay, as it is in a natural frame of view, but the driver’s side is too acute – almost on the same angle as the door frame – and isn’t as easy to read.

Otherwise, the Kia EV9 is a very impressive car that also comes with the peace of mind of a seven-year warranty and extremely affordable servicing programs. Owners can choose from three pre-paid packages for three, five or seven years that cost just $706, $1351, and $1997 respectively.

Yes, $120k is a lot to ask for a Kia. But the EV9 is a rare machine that is greater than the sum of its parts and better than most rival electric SUVs from genuine luxury brands.

Up against anything from Europe, it’s an absolute bargain.

Speak to SG Fleet to see when and how electric cars will become a successful part of your business mobility.

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