Kia EV9 Electric GT-Line review: High-tech and with the looks to match

Kia EV9 Electric GT-Line review: High-tech and with the looks to match
PHOTO: sgCarMart

Nothing feels quite right about this EV9.

Step towards the car and its boxy shape, flush door handles, and the Meridian premium speaker system in its cabin all suggest that you've stepped into one of the products from Land Rover that we've been seeing so much of lately.

Start the car up and the myriad of little cubes of its Digital Pattern Lighting Grille sparkle to life, a touch that reminds one of the Swarovski crystal head lights of the BMW i7. And once you're seated within, the car's Digital Side Mirrors reminds one of the digital mirrors we first saw on the very first examples of the Audi e-tron.

That's quite the premium lineup of cars that the EV9 invokes parallels to, a remarkable achievement and a radical departure from the products that we have become familiar with from a brand that is more typically cherished for its high value offerings.

But don't think of these features as being entirely out of place. Kia states that this new EV "represents the pinnacle of (its) design and engineering capabilities", and is set to sit at the top of what is now a growing all-electric lineup that includes the EV6 as well as the recently revealed EV5.

So, for those shopping for a new all-electric flagship, should you make this EV9 your pick?

Big and well-appointed

The cabin of the Kia EV9 certainly has what it takes to win shoppers over from the aforementioned options.

At 5,015mm long, the SUV has the cabin space to comfortably fit six, and it comes with one party trick that is not typically found in other luxury cars. The seats in the second row here swivel, so passengers can opt to face outwards if they want to fully soak in the view at a given location. I imagine those with young children will also find it easier to install child seats with the second row turned as so.

Swivel these seats the other direction and they also allow your second row passengers to face those seated in the third row, although setting up the car this way will require all facing each other to place their knees in what can only be described as an intimate level of proximity unless the seat backs of the second row are bolt upright.

Still, with all seats placed in a conventional forwards-facing orientation, the EV9 marks itself as quite the capable people carrier. There's air-conditioning vents for all in the second and third row, alongside access to USB ports and cupholders.

And at the front, those accommodating seats feel like items I could happily lounge in for hours, even if I should develop a portly dad bod. Apparent build quality here is also remarkable, although the damping behind the seat ventilation/heating controls could be improved.

A breeze to drive

But the good news is that despite the car's sizeable dimensions, you're unlikely to break a sweat pushing it along.

A relatively tall seating position, good outward visibility, and the car's boxy shape makes placing it on the road remarkably easy. Those nifty Digital Side Mirrors also prove useful when on the road, doing a good job of cutting down glare from other vehicles. You'll develop a good gauge of just how much space is actually available in the neighbouring lane after just a days' worth of comparing the feed on the screens against what you're actually seeing behind your shoulder.

Push the EV9 along and you'll also find it sports a steering that delivers on accuracy, although the ride isn't quite as settled as what you'd might expect from a car that weighs in at 2,569kg, and there's a fair bit of squat when accelerating hard.

Having said that, all this weight is dispatched in effortless fashion thanks to the 600Nm of torque available, and the car produces but the slightest rustle at the upper top corner when you're travelling along at highway speeds (I imagine the car's roof rails could be at fault here).

Easy to use

Not quite as smooth to operate is the car's infotainment system, which hides options such as the interior ambient lighting colours or those for the driver assistance functions deep within its various sub-menus.

And while there's physical controls here for the air-conditioning settings, the fact that they are displayed on a section of the twin 12.3-inch displays that is usually obscured by the steering wheel is a touch annoying.

Don't let these put you off however, as I think the rest of the car will be a breeze to live with. Our three days with it saw us averaging an energy consumption rate of 4.1km/kWh, which means you should be able to reach a range of just more than 400km between charges. That's plenty to see to all the supermarket and school runs that a typical family will require, even if it is off the car's 512km WLTP range. And with a maximum charging speed of 350kW supported, you should be able to make use of Singapore's fastest chargers as and when they become available.

If you're thinking about getting a new flagship SUV, there's just one more thing to consider. At $289,999 (before COE) this EV9 is going to be one expensive Kia, even one as large as this.

But for those who are willing to look past that badge and recognise the wide sweep of capabilities the EV9 can deliver, this could be money well spent.

What we like

  • Futuristic exterior design
  • Easy to place on the road, despite its generous dimensions
  • Fast charging speed and sizeable battery
  • Charging ports, air-conditioning vents, and cupholders for all passengers

What we dislike

  • There isn't enough legroom for rear passengers to sit facing each other

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This article was first published in sgCarMart.

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