23 February 2024
Kia EV9 GT-Line Review – Bigger Is Better

A luxury Kia? Yes, you read that right, and the Kia EV9 does plenty to justify a once-fanciful price.

With their recent surge in popularity, the automotive market is now flooded with all sorts of new-fangled EVs. Whatever the heart desires, there is a car that will fit your needs. So, how would an automaker stand out amongst the surging EV wave?

Well, you dial it up to eleven of course.

This is Kia’s latest and greatest EV – the EV9. A three-row, hulking executive giant dressed to the nines to impress.

Kia’s newest electric kid on the block brings a lot to the table, taking the fight to where traditional luxury automakers dominate. But, is it enough to stand toe to toe with them?

Macintosh-esque facade

When it comes to design, the Kia EV9 puzzle seems to fall into place rather gracefully.

A long departure from the drab and boring Kias of the past, this gentle giant is comparatively length-wise to a Land Rover Defender 110.

But, the EV9 ducks down a smidge lower in height, while stretching out its legs with a wheelbase that nudges past the Land Rover.

It’s big, yes, but it has a kind of elongated elegance that sets it apart.

It also carries Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy, a concept we first saw with the EV6. The pens and sketches have matured with the EV9 – the design is bold, but it’s not about flexing muscles or throwing shapes just for the sake of it.

There’s a level of sophistication here, a visual language that speaks of presence without having to shout about it. What this is, is a head-turner that whispers its presence rather than roars it, and it all comes together rather nicely.

Gadgets and space galore on the inside

The cavernous space of the Kia EV9 is a movable feast for seven adults, complete with all the modern tech trappings you’d expect, plus charging ports, cupholders, and air-conditioning vents for the backseat crowd.

Access into the third row is easy enough with the large rear doors, and 3rd-row space is decent even for adults. Plus, the EV9 comes with one party trick that I haven’t seen in another car for quite some time.

Second-row seats have the ability to swivel, and the outward-facing position makes it a breeze for child seat installation.

Keep swivelling, and these seats can form a sort of ‘meeting room’ with the 3rd row, although legroom does become quite intimate if there’s a full house. Infants and babies would appreciate this rear-facing child-seat position though; important for children whose spinal cord hasn’t yet ossified.

Both ends of the EV9 allow for storage, but the frunk like many other EVs is best left for modestly sized items like your charging cable.

The rear is practical even with the 3rd row up, and transforms from grocery getter to moving day hero in seconds, offering a cavernous hold once those back seats are neatly tucked away.

In theme with sustainability and clean energy, the EV9’s interior is a veritable cornucopia of sustainable materials – from biopolyurethane foam for the headrests to dashboards and trims crafted from nature’s pantry. Not a hide in sight, my eco-conscious friends.

Instead, this chariot opts for ingredients more likely found in your breakfast cereal than your typical SUV interior. It’s a nod to the future where cars are kinder to the planet than the steak on your plate.

Up on the flight deck, Kia’s 12.3-inch central touchscreen is a familiar friend, but the climate control screen is partially blocked behind the steering wheel. At least there are still physical buttons to adjust temperature and fan speed.

Otherwise, the screen is responsive and bright, with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto working a treat as you go about your day. The similarly sized instrument cluster is easy to understand as well, with a simple UI that keeps information tidy.

The EV9 experience is rather serene, and even if you are the designated driver, you’ll feel contented in the driver’s chair.

On the roads

To get the Kia EV9 moving, the start/stop button is elegantly integrated into the drive selector which sprouts out like a modern sculpture from the steering column. A twist here and there, and you’re either surging forward into tomorrow or gliding back into yesterday.

While flaunting a steering wheel that dares to stray slightly from the round norm, the car thankfully sticks to tradition rather than opting for some strange spaceship-esque yoke.

The paddle shifters don’t control gears but rather the intensity of regenerative braking, and there’s even an ‘auto’ mode, although it occasionally misses the mark compared to Mercedes’ more intuitive setup. 

The EV9 doesn’t bury you under an avalanche of gimmicks. Sure, it boasts modes aplenty – from the thrifty Eco to the spirited Sport – but switching between them alters little beyond the throttle’s enthusiasm, the dashboard’s colour scheme, and steering feel – it goes from a gentle nudge in Normal mode to a more assertive push in Sport.

This EV is undeniably a behemoth, proudly stretching its dimensions. Navigating narrow carparks or squeezing into quaint parking spaces might just turn into your daily mini-adventure. Unfortunately, this isn’t helped by the digital wing mirrors, which can lack depth perception when reversing.

Thankfully, the array of cameras on station give you a bird’s eye view, and takes away most of the aforementioned stress. Once it is in its lot, the EV9 claims its space with the confidence of a regal procession.

When it comes to the plethora of driver assists, the EV9 is eager to chime in with a cacophony of alerts and reminders. From the well-meaning but vigilant lane-keep assist to the speed-limit sentry that chirps with every slight transgression, the EV9 seems intent on keeping you on the straight and narrow, sometimes a tad too overzealously.

Don’t worry, for those who prefer fewer intrusions, most of these can, fortunately, be turned off in the settings menu.

On the roads, the EV9 is generally easy to handle. 283kW (380bhp) and 700Nm of torque is plenty, and you’ll never be caught lacking behind another vehicle even with passengers in tow.

The speed and acceleration of the EV9 wouldn’t surprise you as much as other road users when they see a huge hunk of shiny metal zip past with quiet efficiency.

Even if you corner enthusiastically, the car keeps itself composed thanks to the E-GMP platform keeping most of the weight nice and low, and the OEM Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres give you added confidence even in adverse weather.

Range anxiety isn’t a huge concern either thanks to the gargantuan 99.8kWh battery pack, giving you approximately 450km of real-world range; I averaged a 22.5kWh/100km figure during my time with the car. 

Charging is also brisk thanks to its 800V architecture, enabling the EV9 to take in up to 350kW with a fast DC supply. A 10-80% DC rapid charge is supposedly possible in about 24 minutes.

So what is its competition?

…what competition? Until the recently announced Hyundai Ioniq 7 arrives, the Kia EV9 practically has the market segment to itself. Everything else is either much more expensive (Mercedes-EQ EQS SUV), or only offers two rows of seats.

That leaves you, a prospective buyer, with one last question. While you might fancy a car with a more ‘upmarket’ badge, do you genuinely need one?

This brings me on to my next point.

It’s time to stop looking at just the badge

The Kia EV9 is a very rounded bit of kit. Best of all, it is a worthy flagship product, and not simply because it offers a lot for the money.

Rather, it is genuinely a well-thought-out product. A car that is tough enough to stand up to family life, has enough features to keep itself futureproof and packs enough to justify a price that would have seemed laughable for a Kia a mere decade ago.

In any scenario, the EV9 makes a strong case for itself.

Technical Specifications

Kia EV9 GT-Line

Engine: Dual Electric Motors

Power: 283kW (380bhp)

Torque: 700Nm

Transmission: Single Speed (Automatic)

0-100km/h: 6 seconds

Top Speed: 200km/h

Battery Capacity: 99.8 kWh

Price: S$289,999 (GT-Line) without COE (accurate at the time of this article)

Contact: Kia Singapore

Photo By: Sean Loo (@auto.driven)

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