2023 Kia EV9 electric SUV revealed
New range-topping Kia EV9 electric SUV will have a range of more than 300 miles and can seat seven people – here's everything you need to know, including the price, specs and release date...
On sale: Autumn 2023 | Price from: £60,000 (est)
Meet the most exciting new car of 2023. Yes, at the most recent What Car? Awards, readers voted the Kia EV9 as the car they were most looking forward to going on sale this year. It was no narrow victory, either; the EV9 garnered more than twice as many votes as the second-placed car. However, all we’d seen at that stage was a concept version of the EV9; will this production version be as well received?
Well, the showroom-ready EV9 – Kia’s largest SUV by a country mile, dwarfing the current range-topping Sorento large SUV – keeps the sharp angles and tall, boxy stature of the concept. Cladding around its lower edges aims to emphasise the EV9’s rugged nature, while thin LED lights at the front and rear give it a futuristic look. Some of the concept’s other features – such as roof rails that could be raised or lowered at the touch of a button – have been removed, though, while others, such as cameras replacing the door mirrors, have yet to be confirmed for the UK.
Every EV9 will draw energy from a 99.8kWh battery, but how far the car can travel between charges depends on whether you go for a rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive version. The former is powered by a single 200bhp electric motor and has an official range of up to 336 miles.
That’s farther than the smaller Kia EV6 can take you; that model can officially eke 328 miles out of its 74kWh battery. The EV9 also beats equivalent versions of the rival Audi Q8 e-tron, BMW iX and Mercedes EQB on range. Go for a four-wheel-drive model, however, and the official range falls to around 310 miles, but power is upped to 378bhp.
Four-wheel-drive versions can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 5.3sec, and as with the EV6, an even faster GT-badged model could be added farther down the line.
The EV9’s 800-volt electrical system is shared with the EV6, and that means it will be able to charge at the same super-fast rates of up to 239kW. As a result, a 10-80% top-up should be possible in less than half an hour if you can find a suitably powerful charging point. Indeed, using such a charger could add around 75 miles of range in just seven minutes – enough time to grab a coffee.
Also like the EV6, the EV9 offers the facility for you to use its energy reserves to power other items; you can top up your laptop via a three-pin plug, for example, or boil a kettle for your roadside picnic. You can even use that feature to top up another electric car, albeit slowly.
Inside, the EV9 has been toned down from the concept, which showcased an oval steering wheel and a huge, 27.0in display for the instruments and infotainment system. That’s been replaced by two 12.3in displays for infotainment and instruments, with a 5.0in screen dedicated to climate controls sandwiched between the two. There are physical toggles on the dashboard for changing the temperature, too, as well as touch-sensitive shortcut icons for the infotainment on the dashboard above.
Our experience with the infotainment system of the smaller EV6 is largely positive; it features large icons that are relatively easy to hit on the move, and its graphics look swish. However, we’ve also noted a significant delay between the touch of an icon and the system reacting to your selection.
The eclectic range of materials used for the EV9’s interior includes vegan leather and fabrics made from recycled products.
The EV9 can be had in six or seven-seat forms, with the latter expected to take the lion’s share of sales. At launch, the EV9 will be one of only two electric SUVs that can carry that many occupants – the other being the EQB.
Of course, the EV9’s pool of rivals won’t remain small for long; other electric seven-seaters in the pipeline include the Volvo EX90 luxury SUV and the long-wheelbase version of the Volkswagen ID Buzz electric MPV – our reigning Car of the Year.
The EV9’s second-row seats are clever; in six-seat versions, they can be swivelled around to face the third row while the car is stationary (when it’s being recharged, for example), so occupants can more easily hold a conversation. It’s expected that electric locks will stop you from turning them around while the car is moving. And don’t think anyone relegated to the EV9’s rearmost seats will be getting a raw deal; they promise a comfortable amount of space for adults, and each occupant gets their own cupholder and USB charging point.
Even if you do have every seat filled, there’ll be more space for luggage in the EV9’s boot than you’d find in a typical family car, at around 300 litres, and given the car’s size, its carrying capacity in five-seat mode promises to be huge. Like some other electric cars, the EV9 also features a smaller secondary boot – big enough for a soft bag or charging cables – under its bonnet.
The EV9 will let you upgrade your car months or even years after purchase. Using an online store, you’ll be able to unlock new lighting animations for the headlights, or add an extra 74lb ft of pulling power for the electric motor. Indeed, some of the EV9’s most advanced driver assistance technologies could be activated in this way.
And it might be worth doing so, because the EV9 will be offered with ‘level 3’ assisted driving. That means, where it is safe and legal to do so, the EV9 will be able to do some of the driving for you, such as making lane changes automatically on the motorway, as well as maintaining a safe distance from the car in front in heavy traffic and providing steering inputs. However, drivers must still be prepared to take back control from the car if prompted to do so.
With prices expected to start at around £60,000, rising to more than £80,000 for range-topping versions, the EV9 will be the most expensive car Kia has ever made. However, next to other seven-seat electric SUVs, it could be a bargain. The much smaller EQB is only a little cheaper (from £55,000), while the upcoming EX90 starts at £96,255.
If you’re a company car driver, the EV9 is likely to be similarly appealing, thanks to the low 2% benefit-in-kind tax rate it attracts as an electric car until at least April 2025.
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