Author: Bai Zhengming
Many people have driven or ridden in electric vehicles, and many have seen or even experienced luxury cars. However, there is no definitive conclusion on the standards for electric luxury.
When a Korean automaker launches its all-new electric flagship model, it signals a world that is undergoing change beyond traditional perceptions. This is the Kia EV9, an SUV that looks identical to its namesake concept car, carrying Kia’s accelerated transformation into a “sustainable mobility solutions provider” in the era of electrification.
The Kia EV9 presents all of the Korean automaker’s understanding of electric luxury in its own language and on its own terms.
It’s time to embrace the new era, where concept cars can become mass-produced models in the age of fully-electric luxury vehicles.
The Kia EV9 and its performance version EV9 GT-line faithfully reproduce the distinct edges, concise lines, and mecha-style design of the concept car. The EV9 concept car made its debut at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show, shortening the distance from concept to mass production in the electric age.
The EV9 features a body design that appears to make no concessions to aerodynamic efficiency, pursuing a strong and rugged texture. The front end inherits the inherent bulkiness and squareness of an SUV from the concept car, faithfully reproduced in the product that will be available for pre-order in the Korean market starting in the second quarter of 2023.
The vertical front headlights and “digital illumination grille” from the concept car appear on both the EV9 and EV9 GT-line. Kia calls this design “digital tiger face”, which will become a standard feature on Kia’s electric models, marking the beginning of a new family design language.
The Kia EV9 has a length of 5010mm, a wheelbase of 3100mm, a width of 1980mm, and a height of 1755mm (1780mm for the EV9 GT-line). It offers 19-inch, 20-inch, and 21-inch tire sizes, making it a bona fide mid-to-large-sized electric SUV.
Interestingly, the overall drag coefficient is controlled at 0.28. As a result, the Kia EV9 has a square and rugged appearance, but in reality, it exceeds expectations in speed. Moreover, it wouldn’t be fitting to call it a luxury electric vehicle without a significant focus on the electrical architecture.
The EV9 is built on the E-GMP platform, Kia’s global innovative modular electric vehicle-dedicated platform, which even boasts impressive track performance. The long-range rear-wheel-drive model comes with a 99.8 kWh battery, offering 541km of pure electric range under WLTP, and an 800V high voltage system capable of charging for 15 minutes to replenish 239km of range.
Kia doesn’t strive for absolute performance with the EV9. The standard rear-drive model with a single 160 kW, 350 Nm motor accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds, while the all-wheel-drive model with dual motors has a power output of 283 kW and a total torque of 600 Nm, accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds. Even if you opt for the additional speed boost feature, it only elevates the 0-100 km/h acceleration time to a not-so-uncommon 5.3 seconds for luxury electric vehicles.
If you’re enamored with the look of the Kia EV9 concept car, the production EV9 will satisfy most of your expectations.
As for the interior, the concept car’s futuristic presentation seems a bit lofty. For now, Kia has put the cool concept aside, returning to a design that can be mass-produced and launched in 2023.The semi-steering wheel that seamlessly switches with full autopilot on concept vehicles has disappeared, replaced by a less futuristic circular steering wheel. Similarly restrained is the overall style, including the dashboard, although the triple screen size seems larger than the concept car, it’s wise to leave the strongly floating central console for the future.
Apart from ambient lighting, the most conceptual design in the cabin may be the screens on both sides for streaming rearview mirror images, which could soon gain legal status on Chinese roads. For areas where relevant regulations have not yet been implemented, it is only natural for Kia to retain traditional rearview mirrors for the EV9.
Leather is an essential material for creating texture in the EV9 and other luxury vehicles, but Kia is now fully considering the relationship between carmakers and the environment, incorporating a combination of recycled plastic and plant fibers in their coverings. By 2030, the proportion of recycled plastics used in interiors is expected to increase to 20%.
Having three rows of seats is not unusual in luxury cars today, but what’s remarkable is the EV9’s second-row swivel seat version, allowing passengers to rotate to face the third row or open the door for outdoor activities like fishing. Regardless of whether it’s a seven or six-seat version, third-row passengers are respected, with their own cupholders and USB charging ports.
The EV9’s advanced driver assistance features feel very much like 2023. The EV9 supports remote intelligent parking assistance, parking collision avoidance system, and is equipped with 15 sensors, including two LiDARs. The EV9 GT-line supports highway autopilot systems, which Kia calls “conditionally” L3 autonomous driving.
To consumers who have seen Chinese pure electric luxury, everything Kia EV9 offers seems reasonably expected. However, when considering the global market, it has advantages that its competitors have not achieved during the same period.
Evidently, the Kia EV9 is a vehicle existing simultaneously in both the future and present.
The alluring futuristic elements of the Kia EV9 shape its appearance beyond a contemporary mid-to-large-sized SUV. Rugged, angular, and sharp – all the classic SUV descriptors fittingly capture this vehicle. The simplicity is flawlessly implemented in every line and surface, exhibiting an almost alienating futuristic aura, carried over from concept to production model.
Unquestionably, this is also a car of today, embodying the burgeoning era of electric vehicles in 2023. Innovations in its electric architecture and pursuit of mechanical excellence enable it to outperform fuel-powered counterparts of the same size, while its recharging efficiency stands among the best in the electric vehicle market. Featuring three rows of seating, pragmatic interiors, eco-friendly materials, and driver assistance, the Kia EV9 confirms its contemporary identity.
I believe this will be the romance of established automakers stepping into the electric era. Those once-fascinating and avant-garde concept designs now become tangible realities within this time, while the various imaginings of vehicular evolution will advance with increased pragmatism, along with the automobile on the path to the future.
This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email email@example.com.