Now that the mid-range segments are pretty much covered, EVs are starting to appear on the edges of the automotive world. In addition to a series of upcoming small ones, this results in the Kia EV9, an SUV that is unprecedentedly large by European standards. Finding an alternative is not that easy, but we have not taken into account Hongqi in China.
Why are there so many electric SUVs and crossovers?
Developing an electric car costs a lot of money, so such a first model had better be in a segment where something can be achieved for the manufacturer in question. That explains why many brands start their electric adventure with a medium-sized crossover or SUV, a car form that is very popular worldwide. For Kia, that corner of the car world is no longer new. The brand was early with the electric Niro and has had the EV6 for several years now, with which it immediately set the bar high in this segment on a technical level. So it’s time for expansion, and the Koreans are doing that primarily at the top.
So how big is the Kia EV9?
The EV9 is one hell of a car. With a length of 5.01 meters, it is even slightly longer than the Telluride, the largest SUV that Kia has in its regular range. That is interesting, because the Telluride, like almost all its competitors, is not available in Europe. This has everything to do with the taxes and fuel prices that apply here, elements to which electric cars are generally immune. The EV9 does have one advantage: there are hardly any alternatives. The existing electric seven-seaters are very expensive (Model Yet there is another electric giant SUV, the Hongqi E-HS9. It also has a third row of seats as standard, although one glance makes it clear that the two cars have different approaches. The Kia looks sleek, friendly and pragmatic, while the Hongqi, with its enormous grille and slightly sloping shoulder line, mainly radiates luxury. Its almost hilariously impressive bodywork, which is reminiscent of a Rolls-Royce Cullinan, is not surprising: designer Giles Taylor designed them both.
The rectangular shape of the Kia EV9 not only provides a striking appearance, but also practical benefits. Behind the standard third row of seats there is still a reasonable amount of luggage space, which you can use to the maximum thanks to the almost straight rear. In the Hongqi we find an equivalent floor area here, but the height quickly increases due to the sloping bottom. The difference is even greater in the third row of seats. The Kia is one of the few SUVs in which adults can find a good place here, in the Hongqi it is old-fashioned cramming and folding. In row two we sit royally in both test cars.
What does the Hongqi offer in return?
The Hongqi even has an advantage here, because we drive it with optional ‘captains chairs’, which lift the experience to limousine level. It is also available with a normal sofa and that makes it a lot more practical, because the luxury seats cannot lie flat. The Kia also exists as a six-seater, but in all cases the EV9 interior is very flexible. With everything flat, it holds about 2,300 liters and even a small sofa no longer has to be a problem. In addition, the EV9 has a luggage compartment in the nose. This is extra welcome when it is fully occupied. In the rear-wheel drive version, this ‘frunk’ with 90 liters is quite a nice size and is a welcome addition to the space in the back. The tested Hongqi does not have such an extra tray, but that is a choice. Remarkably, the 75 liter container is a separate option here, which we highly recommend.
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