CAR REVIEW: Kia EV9 – It’s a Party Bus


There are many ways to craft a seven-seater passenger car. Most come in the form of boxy multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), loudly proclaiming their utilitarian nature as a family runabout. Then there are the seven-seater sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which add a bit of ruggedness to the otherwise-staid business of ferrying (many) people around. But few probably do it in the way that the Kia EV9 does.

What is the EV9 then? It is certainly SUV-like, with its chiselled looks that makes no bones about its pretensions. Then there are its dimensions, which are simply gargantuan. It’s well over 5 metres long and nearly 2 metres wide, which makes the EV9 quite the beast on the roads.

But the biggest highlight of the EV9 is that it is electric. Now, while there are indeed other seven-seater electric vehicles available on the market, they aren’t exactly plentiful, and the EV9’s unique draw is that it’s probably the first fully-electric seven-seater premium SUV in Singapore. We certainly can expect more to come in the years ahead, but for now Kia has decided to be the pioneer in this sphere.

And what a way to make an entry too. The EV9 certainly looks like nothing else on the roads. Aside from its imposing size, the EV9’s styling is designed like it has come from the future, even in the present day of 2024. The vertical-set headlights come embedded with 12 individual LEDs, and they are complemented by a ‘grille’ that can flash up all sorts of lighting patterns that put up a fancy show when you start the car.

But probably the thing that will strike you the most are the slim Digital Side Mirror stalks on the door, which are in fact cameras, and they replace the traditional door mirrors you find on other cars. What you get is a screen inside at the base of the A-pillar, which displays the image of what the camera outside captures.

Kia is not the first to utilise this system, but the EV9 is the first one to have this standard for cars in Singapore. How well it works is still very much the subject of debate, but so far the reaction has been fairly mixed, and personally, I found it a bit awkward and hard to get used to. Gauging the distances of vehicles behind you became a constant guessing game, while parking was also especially problematic as the camera does not offer the same field of vision as a traditional convex mirror which can showcase a larger area of coverage.

Nevertheless, the digital cameras do have a benefit, in that they remain fairly clear while driving in inclement weather, such as heavy rain. There is also an additional blind spot camera that comes on whenever you flick on the indicators to further assist. But ultimately it’s just doesn’t quite feel the same as a regular mirror.

Tricky mirrors aside, the rest of the EV9 does feel like a fairly pleasant and well-thought out vehicle. Another one of its party tricks is the second row of seats, which can swivel around to face backwards. In effect, you can have a meeting with the those seated in the third row, or if you can manage to squeeze a table in (nope, you can’t), even play mahjong with your kakis while on the move. Fun, isn’t it? (Don’t try it though.)

There are lots of other little tidbits in the interior that are purportedly there to make life a bit better. For example, you’ll find numerous ways to charge your phone, with plenty of USB charging ports and even a three-pin outlet right in the back. There are also lots of cupholders, and a handy storage bin that slides out between the two rear seats. All of the seats are electrically-adjustable, and you can fold down the rears simply by pressing buttons, alleviating the need for manual labour.

All well and good, but what’s in it for the driver? Well, considering how big the EV9 is, it’s probably best to manage your expectations somewhat. That said, the car doesn’t quite feel as unwieldy as its size suggests. With 380hp and a generous 700Nm of torque from its dual-motor electrified powertrain, the EV9 does get off the line pretty sprightly. It’s not going to trouble any sports cars clearly, but 0-100km/h in six seconds is still nothing to be sniffed at for a car that weighs the better part of 2.5 tonnes.

Not that you’ll want to do it on a regular basis, because otherwise you’ll drain the battery pretty quick. The quoted efficiency figure of 22.3kWh/100km seems about right for an EV of its size, but if you take it easy you could probably eke out better figures. The claimed range on a full charge of 512km does seem optimistic, but somewhere in the high 400s should be achievable, which is more than enough for the average Singaporean motorist.

In the corners are where the EV9 starts to display its relative weaknesses. The car doesn’t grip all that well when pushed, although perhaps that can be fixed with a better set of tyres. But mostly the EV9 clearly indicates that it much prefers to take things easy rather than indulge in hard driving. That’s mostly par for the course for a vehicle of its type though, so it shouldn’t come as a major surprise.

So long as you see the EV9 for what it is, as a fairly innovative large seven-seater electric SUV, then there’s plenty in store to delight and surprise. Certainly, its price tag of S$289,999 without COE is fairly steep, but if you want to drive around your friends and folks in style, there are few better choices out there.


About Author

Ben Chia is an experienced writer and editor with over a decade's experience in the automotive industry. He holds a deep passion for all things cars, and you can follow him on social media (Instagram/LinkedIn) at @benchiacars

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