The EV9 comes in single and dual motor configuration and carries seven in comfort

Kia really is moving up in the world which means their asking prices are, too. Take this all-new EV9 as an example. The cost of this full electric behemoth starts at a snip over £65,000 before options, and climbs to almost £79,000, ensuring it is stepping on the toes of the utterly fantastic BMW iX.

Available as a seven seater with a fixed middle bench or optional six-seat configuration (+£1,000) which introduces a second row of two captain’s seats that can rotate a full 180-degrees, it is by far the largest and most adventurous car the Seoul-based manufacturer has ever brought to market.

Entry-level ‘Air’ examples are rear-wheel-drive only, whereas a dual motor configuration – one for the front axle and one for the rear – is what comes on ‘GT-Line’ and luxurious ‘GT-Line S’ models. On the surface, the key visual differences are 19-inch wheels that can be increased to 20-inch rims on ‘Air’, silver-finished roof rails, body-coloured wing mirror caps and a thin chrome trim strip for the window line. Silver makes way for gloss black on the sportier versions of this five-metre long and 1.98-metre-wide people mover, with the Continental-shod wheels an arch busting 21-inches.

The EV9 is a real statement of intent from Kia as it squares up to rivals from a class above. We love the chunky-verging-on-utilitarian proportions, chamfered front and rear ends, and blocky sides. Other standout aspects are the front matrix LED headlights, Volvo XC90-esque LED tail-lights, and door handles that retract once you are on the move – a nod to the Ranger Rover Levar, no doubt.

From the drivers’ seat there is a commanding view of the road ahead and the nose of the EV9 is reasonably easy to judge when it comes to parking. A 360-degree camera helps, of course, and so too do front and rear parking sensors. A washer jet function – similar to what the iX offers – would be pretty useful as the lens on the rear-facing camera attracts grime quickly. Coated in a thin film, it renders the images shown on the 12.3-inch infotainment display largely useless.

Technology – much like the EV9’s styling – is strong and the cabin, although lacking the plushness of similarly-priced rivals, is smart, intuitive and comfortable. A dual screen set-up (one for media functions, satellite navigation and vehicle settings, and another for the changeable instrument binnacle) comes with the latest software from Kia, so it boasts a long list of features and graphics that are verging on High Definition levels.

There is also a wealth of menus and sub-menus but quick access to the most commonly sought after choices can be accessed via the group of haptic touch buttons lined up on a ledge directly beneath the display. Kia has also had the sense to factor in four toggle keys that allow the cabin temperature and fan speed to be adjusted without the driver needing to divert their gaze away from the road for any longer than is absolutely necessary – if ever at all.

Drive modes, parking assist, hill descent control and all manner of active safety aids can be found on the EV9, with the finger print recognition button a particular highlight. Imagine have allowed your pride and joy to be driven by a close friend or family member; inevitably, the seating position and angle of the wing mirrors will have been changed when you get back behind the wheel. By placing your index finger on the black reader near the central arm rest, it immediately defaults back to your pre-saved safety and convenience settings. A gimmick? Perhaps. But a decent effort.

Every person has a dedicated USB-C charging port (seven in all), and wireless smartphone charging comes as standard, too. There are almost as many cup holders (six in total), a 240-volt three-pin socket that is ideal for camping (tea, anyone?) and endless storage options.

Those seated in rows two and three share a separate climate control system to the driver and front passenger, while access to the rearmost chairs is effortless thanks to a pair of penny-sized buttons on the outer edge of the 60/40 split-folding middle seats. Pressing the button on the shoulder or the base of these moves them forward under their own steam to create enough space for even six footers to climb into the back where leg, foot and shoulder room is as good as you will find in any rival.

The pleather upholstered chairs up top and those directly behind them are heated and ventilated, with a reclining function built into the fold away seats positioned farthest back in the EV9 for added comfort. You can even raise and lower the seat backs in the middle- and rear-most rows via buttons found in the boot.

Access to the cargo area is via an electrically-powered tail-gate and once out of the way there is 330-litres to play with in seven seat configuration and 830-litres if those chairs in row three are not required. Extra space can be found under the bonnet where a 90-litre ‘frunk’ (front trunk) in rear-wheel-drive EV9s nestle, falling to 50-litres in all-wheel-drive variants due to the addition of a second e-motor.

As a daily driver, the EV9 is capable and comfortable even if the passive suspension is a tad brittle over harsh surfaces, especially at urban speeds. Dynamically, it grips and corners with confidence and the level of roll is minimal despite its high-sided body and elevated ride height. Range in rear-wheel-drive only configuration is quoted at 349-miles – 36 more than the slightly heavier AWD models – despite the single e-motor having only 200bhp compared to the dual-motors’ 378bhp and half the torque.

Performance is brisk, acceleration smooth, and road noise pretty much none-existent, while the single pedal, regenerative braking set-up can be intensified or lessened via paddles behind the steering wheel to claw back some of the kinetic energy before it is diverted back into the 99.8kWh battery. When it comes to charging, the EV9 can accept speeds up to 210kw to get you from 10% to 80% in a time of 24 minutes.

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