Walk up to the EV9 for the first time and what strikes you first is the fresh and instant appeal of its new styling, an edgy treatment with an arrestingly modern plain front panel, technical-looking headlights, cladding along the body sides and a very plain tailgate design. It’s long and boxy, but it’s also a car like no other, somehow not shocking enough to deter new arrivals.
Like its smaller, two-year-old sibling, the Kia EV6, the EV9 sits on the Hyundai Group’s EV-specific Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), and it shares much hardware, including its all-independent multi-link suspension and many powertrain components. The EV9 offers buyers a choice of rear- and four-wheel-drive versions.
Entry-level models have a 200bhp motor that sends 258lb ft of torque exclusively to the rear axle, yielding 0-62mph acceleration of 9.4sec. The 4×4 has a pair of motors of equal power (189bhp each) mounted front and rear, which means the car has a total 378bhp and on tap and can turn a 0-62mph time of 6.0sec. Torque is an impressive 442lb ft, but this can be boosted to 515lb ft with an extra-cost, over-the-air software update that shaves another 0.7sec from the 0-60mph time.
Such is the smoothness and easy response of the EV9’s controls that you soon forget it’s an EV. Instead, it’s an easy-driving car with a very quiet motor and a range close to 300 miles, depending how you drive. Motion is controlled from a small switchblock on the right side of the steering column and there are the usual ancillary switches (including a blessed one-touch operation to disable the lane-keeping assistance) on the steering wheel. Like in other Hyundai and Kia EVs, the intensity of the regenerative braking can be varied by steering wheel paddles. (Please, rivals, do this yourselves!)
Our test car is a mid-range homemarket version, lacking some of the decor of a high-spec UK EV9 and without the second motor. The braking is powerful and easy to modulate, the steering feels most normal in, aptly, Normal driving mode (the others are Sport and Eco) and the controls all have that frictionless panache of brands in the BMW and Porsche realm. Such things show you how relentless is Kia’s march to greatness.