Prototype testing has now concluded on Kia’s upcoming flagship model – the EV9 – ahead of the all-electric SUV’s world debut in early 2023.
Previewed conceptually last year, the EV9 has since completed 44 months of development across the globe, with the latest, and final, stage of testing conducted across a “4WD climbing hill,” rutted terrain tracks, ‘Belgian pavé’ cobbled road surfaces, and through deep water to hone ride comfort and build quality, and “ensure maximum reliability even in the most challenging conditions.”
Like its smaller, crossover sibling – the already launched EV6, a ‘GT’ version of which was recently showcased for the first time during Monterey Car Week – the EV9 sits on the Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP) co-developed with Hyundai, and, given the sheer size of the vehicle, is expected to boast the biggest wheelbase seen so far on the platform. While technical specifications have yet to be hinted at, the 800-volt capacity of the E-GMP suggests the EV9 will be compatible with DC fast-charging up to 350 kW. A dual e-motor configuration is also expected, though it’s possible a single-motored, rear-wheel drive entry level model could also be introduced.
Acting as a “close preview” of the 2023 production model, the camouflaged example in the above and below images does feature some of the styling cues presented on Concept EV9, most notably the ‘tiger nose’ face, thin vertical LED headlamps, and raising roofline tapering into a tail-lip rear spoiler. The concept’s 4,930mm length, 2,055mm width and 1,790mm height are also expected to remain more or less the same.
Unsurprisingly, certain elements on Concept EV9 will not make their way to production. The test model for instance features a standard set of wing mirrors as opposed to the concept’s rear-facing wing-mounted cameras, and the 22-inch ‘triangular aero design’ wheels are missing. The concept’s ‘boxy’ design has also been toned-down with Kia, presumably, prioritizing greater aerodynamism. Look closely, and the door handles appear to flush with the bodywork too.
The more headline-grabbing elements of the cabin – like the one-spoke oval steering wheel, and configurable ‘first-class lounge’ seating – almost certainly won’t make production either, though no official images of the prototype’s interior have been shared. Given the sheer size of the EV9 though, third-row seating will likely come as standard, meaning Kia’s new flagship will likely rival Mercedes’ EQS SUV, production of which has now started in the US, and Hyundai’s upcoming Ioniq 7.