26 April 2024

The new EV9 is the most expensive Kia ever sold in Australia (but, oh, those headrests)

| James Coleman
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Kia EV9

The Kia EV9 posing on the Kingston Foreshore. Photo: James Coleman.

I’ve done it. I’ve driven an EV from Sydney to Canberra.

I understand that to many, this is like saying the Pope has woken up this morning and decided he’s still Catholic. But there are horror stories – no doubt you’ve heard them, of EV owners arriving in Goulburn in need of a charger and finding half of them out of action and the other half occupied, with a 40-minute wait time until they’re not.

As it was, I left Sydney with a full 505 km of range and arrived in Canberra with a very comfortable 160 km still available.

But that wasn’t all.

I was in the new Kia EV9, a behemoth seven-seater SUV that is a delightful road trip companion for a very simple reason: it has the most comfortable, meshy-type headrests my head has ever had the privilege of being nestled in. (Competitors take note – it really is the little things that make all the difference.)

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The seats aren’t bad either – wide but supportive – and about an hour into the drive, something called a “lumbar stabilisation program” kicked in. A lower-back massage, as it turned out. There’s a button for this on the driver’s door, too, along with controls to heat and ventilate the seat.

In fact, there’s a feature for almost everything you can imagine.

It took me a while to work out what it was for, but the round glossy button on the centre console is, in fact, a fingerprint sensor. Kia says this can be used to “start and operate the vehicle” and access Apple CarPlay.

The same can be done with the key. So, if you come back to your EV9 to find it sandwiched between someone who can’t park and someone else who can’t park, you can start it remotely and slowly edge it out of the car park. Get the Kia app, and you can do this with your phone.

It’s definitely just as cool, and I respect Kia for pushing it through all the meetings with the accountants, but I’m not sure why we have cameras instead of side mirrors. It’s not like you can see any better.

Kia EV9

The tech will be familiar to anyone with a modern Hyundai. Photo: James Coleman.

Kia also borrows a lot of tech from Hyundai, and as with all Hyundai products, serenity is often shattered by a salvo of beeps: lane-keeping assistance, speed-limit monitoring and driver-attention monitoring. This is incredibly annoying.

Other features are very clever, though. For instance, “partial braking and steering torque control” help prevent the car from being blown around by strong winds while travelling at highway speeds. The same also works in corners.

So, how much does all this cost? Well, worryingly, the EV9 is the most expensive Kia ever sold in Australia to date. It’s true there are the lesser Air and Earth models, but mine – the top-shelf GT-Line – starts at $121,000.

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Yep, that’s six figures. For a Kia. That’s not far off the price of Merc’s EQC electric SUV. Away from the on-paper stuff, is it worth it?

There’s no doubt it will turn more heads, especially in my vibrant ‘Ocean Blue Matt’. It’s like a Star Wars troop carrier.

The front was unkindly compared to a bulldozer by some, but not only is it an EV and therefore has next to no cooling requirements, some of that real estate is there so you can display different lighting patterns, if that’s your thing.

The looks might have you expecting a lot of stupid. And it’s true the EV9 makes a deep whir like a spaceship on acceleration, and the 0-100 km/h time of 5.3 seconds might not sound all that earth-shattering until you enter 2600 kg of weight into the equation – then it blows you away.

You also feel this sheer immensity in corners when the tyres scramble and the Indo-Australian tectonic plate squirms. It’s also a bit of a challenge in the car park.

But every other time, the EV9 is one of those delightful paradoxes. It’s brash and bold but also perfectly easy to get along with. Calming even.

Ah, and those headrests – I can still feel them now if I close my eyes.

Kia EV9

The cheaper Air model starts at $97,000, and the Earth at $106,500. Photo: James Coleman.

2024 Kia EV9 GT-Line

  • $121,000 plus on-road costs
  • Two electric motors, 99.8 kWh battery pack, 283 kW / 700 Nm
  • Automatic, all-wheel drive
  • 0-100 km/h in 5.3 seconds
  • 22.8 kWh per 100 km claimed electricity usage
  • 2636 kg
  • 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

This car was provided for testing by Kia Australia. Region has no commercial arrangement with Kia Australia.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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