Kia EV9 - The most-wanted new car of 2024 is a brilliant seven-seat electric SUV

The EV9 is highly desirable, several strides ahead of the opposition and shot through with quality and sophistication

Kia EV9
Nothing else on the road looks like Kia's EV9 (Adam Warner)

LOOKING like the result of a liaison between a Star Wars stormtrooper and a Land Rover Defender, four-wheeled statements of intent don’t come much more imposing or ambitious than Kia’s remarkable EV9.

Measuring the thickness of a copy of an Irish News over 5 metres long, almost 2m wide and standing 1.8m tall, the EV9 is an unashamedly substantial vehicle. For context, it’s longer even than a Land Rover Discovery.

The EV9′s size and sheer presence demand your attention but its quality and breadth of ability will keep you hooked; this is a deeply impressive vehicle.

It’s noteworthy for being the first fully electric SUV in which you can even contemplate carrying seven normal-sized people.

Kia EV9
The Kia EV9 is a seven-seater, with the two rear-most pews large enough to accommodate adults (Adam Warner)

Mercedes has its EQB, but it’s very much a five-plus-two. At a stroke, Kia has again left not only Mercedes but also BMW, Audi, Land Rover and others looking undernourished in the EV department. Among the premium brands, only Volvo, with its EX90, has an electric seven-seater in the offing.

The Volvo is priced from a smidge under £100k, though. Compared to that, the Kia is a relative bargain, starting at £65k and topping out just under £80k.

That might seem a bold price for a Kia but it’s a testament to just how accomplished the EV9 is that it feels worth it.

The aforementioned styling won’t be to everyone’s taste but I think Kia is to be congratulated for doing something so distinctive. That in itself isn’t a path to success. For example, BMW’s iX electric SUV is also certainly distinctive, but only in so far as it looks like it has been involved in an expensive accident.

In the metal, the EV9 is a thoroughly cohesive design. Kia must be convinced that it has broader appeal - its new EV3, a smaller SUV pitched at a broader market, is essentially a scaled-down version of the EV9.

Kia EV9
Few other cars have the presence of the EV9 (Adam Warner)

The boxy exterior yields a truly spacious and versatile interior. Even with all three rows of seats in place, the boot has a volume of 333 litres.

Drop those seats and 828 litres opens up, and folding the middle row gives a van-like 2,318 litres; for reference, that’s substantially more than a Volvo XC90 or Audi Q7. The EV9 also has a useful storage compartment under the bonnet, measuring 90 litres in rear-wheel-drive versions and 52 litres in dual-motor all-wheel-drive models.

Access to the third row is easy. There you’ll find Isofix points, USC-C sockets and cupholders. The middle row slides fore and aft, and offers truly generous lounging space as well as two more Isofix points.

Kia EV9
The EV9's cutting edge interior (Adam Warner)

Up front, the driver and passenger enjoy a tremendous sense of light and room. The dashboard looks good, too, with three digital screens juggling infotainment, climate control and driver information duties.

Kia strikes a sensible balance in how it divides key functions between actual buttons and the car’s touchscreens.

That ease of use extends to the electric drivetrain, which is outstanding. The battery is a very large 99.8kWh unit, of which Kia says 96kWh is classed as useable. It’s also heavy, and helps explain why the EV9 tips the scales at more than 2.5 tonnes.

The arrival of the EV9 is a watershed moment for Kia: highly desirable, several strides ahead of the opposition and shot through with quality and sophistication

The rear-drive, single-motor car has 200bhp and 258lb ft of torque. That might not sound especially generous for such a large vehicle, but because of the way EVs deliver their power and torque, in practice it’s all anyone really needs.

Spend more for the dual-motor, all-wheel-drive EV9 and you get 380bhp and a whopping 516lb ft of torque. Range suffers though, falling from the single-motor’s theoretical 349 miles to 313 miles.

Kia EV9
Kia EV9 (Adam Warner)

Either way, the EV9 has real legs that play to its strengths as an exceptionally smooth and refined cruiser. It was an ideal companion for a long run to Fermanagh, where I was able to add 33kWh of energy - good for around 90 miles’ range - in 40 minutes at a rapid charger. Real world range, albeit with a heavy proportion of motorway driving, was around 290 miles in my time with the Kia.

Worthy of special mention is the intuitive way that regeneration levels can be altered on the fly by using the paddles on the steering column. It only adds to the sense that the EV9 is a profoundly well thought out and deeply considered car.

Kia EV9
You'll not mistake the Kia EV9 for anything else (Adam Warner)

Living with the EV9 for a week reminded me of when Volvo launched its XC90 back in 2015. That car was a real calling card for Volvo and its ambitions. The EV9 feels like a similarly watershed moment for Kia: highly desirable, several strides ahead of the opposition and shot through with quality and sophistication.

I don’t normally quote manufacturer’s puff in these pieces, but I’ll allow the EV9 to be the exception that breaks the rule. Kia describes it as a “generation-defining electric car”. It’s not wrong.