Review: Kia EV9 £65,000 electric vehicle

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The Kia EV9 at Eilean Donan castle in the Scottish Highlands. Despite the icy conditions the electric vehicle handled the roads very impressively

Despite being a big beast, the Kia EV9 is a smashing electric SUV. Perfect for those with large families and offering a five-star safety rating. It also handles surprisingly well with a range of features that should calm even the most range anxious. Chris Price reports….

My first impressions of the Kia EV9 sitting outside of a frozen Inverness Airport on a cold December morning aren’t favourable. It just looks so big and chunky, all sharp angles like a kid’s drawing. It’s also very, very long, housing 6 or 7 seats inside depending on the configuration you opt for. Perfect for large families then or transporting a five-a-side team to the game. Not so good if there are just two of you living in North London without off-street parking.

But looks as they say can be deceptive and after 24 hours with the vehicle it is slowly starting to grow on me. I still wouldn’t say it’s a thing of beauty but it is certainly a bold design – confident and in your face.

What’s more, it’s actually a bloody good drive, handling like a much smaller and lighter vehicle. It’s also not as stupidly high off the ground as some SUVs you see transporting kids from one activity to the next. In short, it feels like a normal car, despite looking a little like a small tank. And while it’s certainly not cheap (even a basic model will set you back around £65,000), the price tag may well tempt a few yummy Mummys out their Ranger Rover Evoques.

The EV9 has a range of up to 349 miles – more than enough for most journeys

Combatting range anxiety

I’ve mentioned in previous articles that Electric Vehicles seem to be attracting a lot of negative press right now, with some people thinking they can only drive them to the shops and back before having to find a charger somewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It seems to me the range of EVs is improving all the time with Kia claiming a range of up to 349 miles under WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) for the EV9.

I took the 7-seater EV9 out for a picturesque drive from Inverness Airport to Eilean Donan Castle in Dornie on Scotland’s north West coast and then back to Inverness city centre along the banks of Loch Ness (no monsters seen unfortunately). That’s a round-trip of around 150 miles. When I set off the car I was driving had 249 miles range on the display and when I returned it, it was showing just under 80 miles.

However, I wasn’t driving the EV9 under ideal conditions. It was very cold (about 1 degree centigrade) and I was testing out various, less than optimal, driving modes. This included Sports Mode which gave the car a real boost of acceleration – not that it was lacking power in the first place.

Kia EV9
With three banks of seats for up to 7 passengers, the EV9 is a very long car. Thankfully there are lots of features on board to help parking!


Safety first

Not surprisingly for a car that’s intended for families, the EV9 is chock full of safety features (it has just been awarded a five-star safety rating by Europe’s independent safety organisation, Euro NCAP – see here for more details).

While most of these are pretty useful, particularly annoying is the Lane Keep Assist (LKA) option which automatically pulls the car into the position it thinks you should be adopting when driving.

It’s rather like a passenger grabbing the steering wheel and is particularly irksome when the sides of the road are icy (as they were during my drive) and so you don’t want to drive too close to the kerb. Thankfully, you can switch the feature off using a button on the steering wheel – though I wasn’t able to do it particularly easily during the drive.

Kia EV9
Cameras are included to help reversing on the EV9

Undoubtedly more useful are the various onboard cameras, including cameras to help you when you are reversing the car (see above) and – more unusually – cameras that activate when you are turning. Basically, as soon as you indicate to turn a corner, a circular image appears on the screen showing you what is behind you. It’s like having an extra set of wing mirrors and is particularly useful for alerting the driver to any cyclists that may be present (not that I saw anyone cycling during our tour of the icy Scottish Highlands).

There’s even a camera on top of the steering wheel which monitors your eye movement. If your eyes start wandering as mine did briefly when I was checking out the central air conditioning and entertainment console then a red eye icon appears on the dashboard and the car starts beeping at you.

Personally, I found it a little too aggressive and annoying (especially the beeping) but I can understand how it could be useful. Especially if the worst should happen and you have a medical emergency at the wheel in which case the car will – after beeping a hell of a lot – automatically slow down and steer itself to the side of the road. Thankfully it wasn’t a feature I had to test!

Kia EV9
In the six-seater EV9 configuration, the middle two seats can be turned around to face the rear two seats for a game of cards

That’s Entertainment

Whereas once the performance of the car was everything, these days its features – in particular its entertainment features – are just as important to many people. Certainly, on this score, the Kia EV9 doesn’t disappoint. On board are twin 12.3-inch displays, one housing the digital instrument cluster, the other the car’s ‘infotainment’ system.

During my test drive of the EV9 I used one of the two USB-C connectors at the front of the car for charging as well as for connecting up my iPhone to the onboard Apple Car Play (Android Auto is also provided). USB-C chargers are also provided for rear passengers, including two for the second row of seats and two more for the third row, thus ensuring the kids are kept entertained during the journey!

On board are two 12.3-inch displays. Pictured is the infotainement system comprising on board maps. Below are USB-C chargers for hooking up your smartphone to the system and an area housing enough space for four cups of coffee!

Fitted on board the GT-Line model I tested there was also a head up display that projects driving information (speed, distance to destination etc) on to the windscreen in order to minimise distractions while driving. In addition, there’s a comprehensive navigation system that automatically detects if you don’t have enough charge to reach your destination and recommends charging stops along the way.

As with other models in the Kia range, EV9 customers benefit from Kia Connect services free of charge for 7 years. This includes online navigation, including real-time information about traffic, parking availability and costs as well as the availability of charging points.

Kia claims the EV9 can charge in 1 hour 24 minutes (10% to 80%) at 50Kw and just 24 minutes at 350Kw. Finally, for those who really appreciate good sound, the EV9 ‘GT-Line S’ models offer a 14-speaker Meridian Sound System which certainly sounded pretty powerful to me when listening to Christmas hits via Spotify on my connected iPhone!  

A rear view of the EV9 next to Loch Ness. No monsters in sight, unfortunately!


Verdict

Electric Vehicles are evolving all the time. Once there was only the Nissan Leaf available, but now as the market matures there are options to suit every type and budget of customer. Aimed mainly at those with large families, the upmarket Kia EV9 is a large SUV with three banks of seats for up to 7 people. And while the styling might not be to everyone’s taste, it does at least make a real statement.

What’s more, although it’s a really big car it certainly doesn’t handle like one. Driving around the Scottish Highlands along twisty, turny roads, the EV9 feels light enough and very nifty indeed. According to the stats, it takes just 5.3 seconds to travel from 0-62 miles per hour which for a car of this size seems very impressive. Furthermore, those who suffer from range anxiety when considering buying an EV will be pleased that the range of the EV9 is well over 300 miles.

Pricing:

Kia EV9 Air 7-seat £64,995
Kia EV9 GT-Line 7-seat £73,245
Kia EV9 GT-Line S 7-seat £75,995
Kia EV9 GT-Line S 6-seat £76,995

Standard equipment across the EV9 line-up:

Three-screen dashboard layout (12.3-inch driver display, 5.3-inch climate control touchscreen, and 12.3-inch touchscreen navigation system with wireless Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™) • Wireless phone charger • Kia Connect telematics system with seven years’ free access and three years’ free over-the-air updates • Heated and ventilated front seats and outer second-row seats • Electric folding, adjustable and heated door mirrors with integrated LED indicator lights • Rain-sensing front wipers • Electronic rear-view mirror • LED headlamps and rear lamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights • Rear privacy glass • Second-row manual window blinds • Dual-zone air conditioning systems, front and rear, with rear roof vents • Heated steering wheel • Smart power tailgate with height adjustment • 60:40 split-folding second row seats; 50:50 auto-fold third row seats • Ambient lighting • Six USB-C chargers (two per row) • Three-pin socket in boot • Vehicle-to-load system (V2L), for charging or powering external devices • Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control • Highway Driving Assist 2 with Hands-on Detection • Front and rear parking sensors • Blind-Spot Collision Avoidance Assist (BCCA) with Rear-Cross Traffic Assist (RCTA) • Blind-Spot View Monitor (displaying blind spots on the driver instrument screen when indicating) • 360-degree Surround View Monitor • Nine airbags, across all three rows

 

 

Chris Price