Kia has completed Australian suspension and steering tuning for its new electric flagship, the EV9 three-row crossover.

    It’s due in Australian showrooms in October, with pricing and specifications to be announced closer to launch.

    The EV9 is the latest Kia to get local testing, with the related EV6 another recipient.

    The electric SUV was developed over a period of 44 months, with testing conducted at Kia’s global R&D centre in Namyang, South Korea, as well as more recently on local roads. Engineers from Namyang made the trip Down Under to assist with the process.

    “In line with the vehicle’s size and versatility, our local tuning program focused on marrying the unique demands of Australian road conditions with making the EV9 a very comfortable and effortless family cruiser,” said Graeme Gambold, Kia Australia’s chief ride and handling engineer.

    “We aimed to make it capable not only in the urban jungle but also enjoyable on a long drive and on challenging rougher roads.

    “It does a great job absorbing bumps around town and soaks up the rough stuff at higher speeds on typical country roads, whilst maintaining good body control.

    “This was also the first time we have worked with the combination of the E-GMP platform and self-leveling shock absorbers in the rear.

    “The equipment all works in harmony for the EV9, keeping the vehicle level despite loads.

    “This is important for this big and boxy 7-seater, ensuring front-end grip is maintained whether the EV9 has one driver, or a whole family plus cargo in the back.”

    Global testing saw the EV9 put through its paces on a climbing hill and a rough-terrain track. It was also sent wading through deep water.

    The EV9 will debut Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA 2) in Australia, a Level 2 autonomous driving feature that combines adaptive cruise control with stop/go, Lane Following Assist, and a Lane Change Assist function.

    The latter will automatically steer the vehicle to another lane after you turn on the indicator. A Hands-on Detection sensor will also detect if you don’t have your hands on the wheel while using HDA 2, and will alert you and then deactivate the system if necessary.

    Australian-spec EV9s will, however, miss out on the new Highway Driving Pilot Level 3 autonomous driving feature, which allows for hands-free driving on certain roads. Local regulations are to blame.

    The EV9 will debut Kia’s new infotainment and telematics system, developed in-house and called the Connected Car Navigation Cockpit (ccNC). This supports over-the-air updates and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

    While Kia Australia hasn’t released detailed pricing and specifications for the EV9 yet, it has confirmed it will be offered locally in either single-motor rear-wheel drive guise with a 76.1kWh battery or dual-motor all-wheel drive with a 99.8kWh battery.

    The rear-wheel drive model has a 150kW/350Nm electric motor and a claimed 0-100km/h time of 8.2 seconds, along with claimed range of 418km under the stricter WLTP test cycle.

    The dual-motor setup brings outputs of 283kW and 600Nm – upgradeable to 700Nm through the Kia Connect store – with a 0-100km/h time of 5.3 seconds with the uprated tune.

    It also offers 497km of WLTP range.

    The EV9 measures 5010mm long, 1755mm tall, 1980mm wide and ride a 3100mm wheelbase. Kia consequently calls it an Upper Large SUV, given its dimensions are so close to those of a Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series.

    “As with the arrival of the EV6 range, consumer interest in the Kia EV9 has been extraordinary but thankfully, we will be receiving better supply of the EV9 and planning for 100 per month,” said Kia Australia CEO Damien Meredith.

    It’s set to be Kia’s priciest model yet in Australia.

    When asked at a recent media event whether the EV9 will be under the threshold for the Luxury Car Tax (LCT), which is currently $89,332 for “fuel efficient vehicles”, Kia Australia product planning general manager Roland Rivero responded with a clear no.

    MORE: Everything Kia EV9

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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