14 February 2024

Kia EV9 review: Brian Byrne, Irish Car

The Kia EV9 is perhaps the biggest EV statement in Ireland to date, both in style and size, writes Brian Byrne. A large beast by any measure, it leaves behind in the ICE age even the Range Rover Sport and the BMW X5.

Available in both 6- and 7-seat formats, the price point will limit numbers sold here, but automotive market history has shown us there's a space for every model in any market segment, and this Kia will be in a very high-profile space on St Patrick's Day when it will showcase in the Dublin Parade.

First sight of the EV9 impacts particularly in its angular shape. If it seems a bit on the architecturally brutalist side, a scan over upcoming large cars from other makers suggests this is actually on trend, as edgy and slab-side sheetmetal styling seems to be leaving an era of softer lines behind. One immediate result is for this writer a bonus, as getting in and out for a tall driver is not a head-banging hardship, which I've found all too much an issue in recent years. 

That first look in the metal may have an immediate impact on the visual senses, but I very quickly got fond of it. The front is stylistically individual, unlike anything else in the market here — though you can see similar details in some startup competitor electric cars in the US, where there's a lot of interest in this particular Kia. The uncompromising stance of the car is added to by massive 21-inch wheels.

The lights both front and rear stand out as style details in a panel-work design that is remarkably clean of fancy sculpting. Front and rear overhangs are short, and a visibly long wheelbase promises a lot of space inside. A promise fulfilled. My review car had the 6-seat configuration, with a space between the two middle ones which could be 'walked-through' to access the pair in the rear. The other reason for the 6-seat option is that the two middle ones can be rotated to face rearwards in a lounge-like configuration, making it a mobile chat-room for four passengers.

The sense of bigness continues right the interior style and fittings. The driver's instrumentation and the infotainment screen are all integrated in a wide digital unit with bright and clear graphics. The key climate controls for on the run use are by physical switching, a big plus for any of us concerned by driver distraction. However, as is now the case in so many new cars, many of the 'Driver Assistance' systems are big distractions in themselves. I developed a 'pre-flight' drill of adjusting their always-default 'beep' settings to silence before every drive.

A large armrest and storage unit divides the front seats, the back end of which provides an extendable storage and table unit for the middle occupants. The review car was the top end GT-Line version, which included such fripperies as a massage driver's seat and heating-cooling of seats front and rear. Periodically my car went into a sequence on its own, kneading my back in a number of ways. I could probably have done without it, but it wasn't disruptive, and I had other things to be learning. There's a lot of stuff to be learned in cars today, often not intuitive — the more widgets and gadgets, the more you have to spend time working out.

The powertrain in the EV9 runs from a 99.8kWh battery. Yep, that's a big battery, that takes a bit of charging time. But where the charge unit has the capacity, it will pump in 249km in 15 minutes — though I don't know of any here with that ability. The output in my AWD version totalled 384hp. This is a 2.6-tonne car, yet capable of hitting 100km/h in a crazy 5.3 seconds.

I had an unusually extended chance to get a handle on the EV9's capabilities, in very diverse conditions. The comfort was excellent. The handling a surprise for such a big vehicle, even when my Google Maps diverted me across some of the worst roads in Ireland on the way home from a necessary visit to the west of the country. The range, an accurate 395km over my time hustling on motorways and floating over the bumpy and cracked roads across the Bog of Allen. Energy consumption was 25kWh/100km.

It's a car too big for my needs, but I got very attached to it. By coincidence, my son who lives in mid-state New York took delivery of one on the day I left mine back. Big car, small world.

PRICE: From €77,500; review car €85,500. WHAT I LIKED: Uncompromising style and extraordinary driving experience.