After a bit of a build-up, Kia’s three-row EV SUV flagship, the Kia EV9, made its official debut at company headquarters in Seoul earlier this week.
The Kia EV9, which is the first vehicle to carry the company’s new design language, Opposites United, along with a host of new technology and features, will arrive in Canada in the second half of this year as a 2024 model. Pricing and model lineup for Canada will be announced closer to launch.
Of note, the EV9 will make its North American debut at the New York International Auto Show next week, where I will be in attendance to collect some in-person impressions, snap a few photos and talk to various Kia reps about the car. That story will cover the EV9 in its totality, whereas this one is focused primarily on its striking design.
And there’s a lot to dig into on that front. So much so, in fact, that Karim Habib, Executive Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design Center, was selected to lead the reveal event.
Habib walked the audience, which included more than 100 global auto journalists who were watching the presentation on Zoom, through the meaning of Opposites United, Kia’s new design philosophy that is meant to harness the creative tension, “generated by the divergent values of nature and modernity to deliver a harmonious whole,” according to a company statement.
During the presentation, Habib, a Canadian of Lebanese descent who has spent a quarter century in automotive design for BMW, Infiniti and Kia, explained the EV9’s aesthetic.
“Every Kia has a different interpretation, or a different version, of the Tiger Nose,” he began.
“In this case, we’ve reinterpreted into what we now call the Tiger Mask. [We call it the] Tiger Mask because we’ve integrated all the different elements of the front (of the vehicle) into this new face, this new mask.
“First, I’d like to point to the Digital Pattern Lighting. So, this is an innovative new technology that we have where you see the light shining through the body colour. These are different patterns that you can customize and choose to your own taste.
“Now, this combined with the headlamps, and the upper tab and lower tab which is the way we call in design the relationship between the upper part and lower part of the Tiger Nose. All of this together creates the new Tiger Mask,” Habib said.
Habib went on to explain the EV9’s long and boxy, yet upright proportions were the result of the design team’s intent to create a generous amount of interior space, both for occupants and cargo. He noted the EV9’s long straight roof that flows into the rear spoiler, along with a large greenhouse, where all side windows are roughly the same size, as examples of the EV9’s big SUV proportionality.
And the EV9 is big: 5,010 mm long, 1,980 mm wide, 1,755 mm tall, and with a 3,100 mm wheelbase. Prominent wheels, ranging in size from 19 to 21 inches, are also on the menu.
Thanks in part to a flat floor, which is part of the Hyundai Motor Group’s E-GMP (Electric Global Modular Platform) architecture, the EV9 offers a range of six and seven-seater options. Among these are relaxation seats in the first row, second row seats that can be a three-seat bench, relaxation-style, or swivel-type two-seaters that can be turned to face the third row. Interesting factoid, among many, is the second-row relaxation seats recline together while the EV9 is charging.
There’s a lot more to get into, but I’ll save that for my EV9 deep dive story dropping next week. But I’ll close with some basic information.
The EV9 features an 800-volt charging infrastructure with a range of about 541 km based on European WLTP testing. These figures tend to shrink when testing is conducted by the EPA and NRCan, so that’s something to watch for. Kia notes, however, that the EV9 can charge up to 239 km range in about 15 minutes with the use of a fast charger.
As for the drivetrain, the EV9 feature’s Kia’s fourth gen battery tech, which in this case is a 76.1 kWh unit for Standard RWD models, and a 99.8 kWh pack for RWD Long Range and AWD variants. RWD Long Range models use a 150 kW electric motor, while the Standard RWD receives a 160 kW unit. The AWD model has two motors, which produce a combined 238 kW (319 hp) and 600 Nm (442.5 lb-ft.) of torque.
The model range for Canada has not been confirmed, but more information will be announced in the coming months.
As for a high-performance GT-type variant, Kia President and CEO Ho Sung Song confirmed at the reveal that one is currently in development and should arrive in 2025, which means it will likely debut next year.