The Kia EV9 Concept previews a luxurious family EV SUV
It’s big, tall and electric, and comes across as something designed in a geometry lesson. It’s also a concept foretaste of Kia’s new flagship, the EV9 – the brand’s most ambitious model yet.
Unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show in the US this week, the Concept EV9 is Kia’s large SUV take on the South Korean group’s new Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) shared with Hyundai which also unveiled its similarly-sized but softer-looking version, the Seven. Both concepts are based on the seven-seat SUV archetype that is increasingly the predominant force in luxury cars worldwide.
Kia’s EV9 concept follows on from the EV6 recently launched in the UK but suggests a production version that would take things a good way further upmarket. Battery electric drivetrains are rapidly evolving and whatever is under the angular bodywork – Kia doesn’t specify – would in any case probably change by the time a production version reaches the showrooms in around two years time.
We can though expect all-wheel drive thanks to motors back and front along with plenty of power. The sportiest version of the EV6 already boasts a total output of 577PS (430kW), enough for 0-62mph in just 3.5 seconds.
The EV9 is a lot larger – almost 5m long, 1.78m tall and over 2m wide – and is sure to put the emphasis more on family-friendly accommodation and good range rather than sportiness. Kia says it should be good for 300 miles, with a 350kW fast-charge facility for an 80 per cent top-up in around half an hour.
See past the straight lines and acute angles of the “opposites united” design and the EV9 interior comes across as welcoming. Access is aided by that concept-car staple of rear-hinged back doors and an absent B-pillar.
They might not make production but the idea of a flexible, three-row interior surely will. There’s old-style MPV versatility here, with Kia crowing about reversible front seats and second-row seats that fold down to make a table as though it were new rather than something the Renault Espace introduced in 1984.
With its huge glass roof and open feeling, the cabin does however come across as very light and spacious. All the vehicle’s control and infotainment functions are displayed on a 27-inch widescreen. Old fishnets and plastic bottles have been recycled into flooring material and seat fabrics, while leather is definitely vegan.
Vegan is not the first word that comes to mind for the styling. The design is surely more full-blooded in its macho angularity. Or, as Kia has it, “playful and rugged”. Clever touches include a solar panel on the bonnet, retractable roof rails and a body-colour digital version of Kia’s “tiger face” front end. It lights up in various ways, including a welcome “light show” when you walk up to the car.