The electric version of KIA’s five door family hatch has been improved to keep it very close to the top of the class.
Styling has evolved to deliver an acceptable looking car that has hints of the current trend for crossovers. Mixed with a sprinkling of conventional hatchback. The car is nice looking with a streamlined grille and nice new lighting signature, the flanks have a unique bit of relief at the rear door ‘aero’ C pillar area, while the tailgate is flush and unremarkable. It is a smart looking car that can be bought as a PHEV or EV that we’re testing this week. It’s fair to say the New Niro is not quite a bedroom poster – but few EVs are!
Inside the Niro is comfortable – it always was, airy and spacious and very easy to drive – as ever. The cabin dash is freshened up and features KIA’s touch controls, for secondary controls, that are split between heating and other controls, and media/radio nav (between the two knobs). We first saw this technology in the EV6 and now it is rolled out in new KIAs. It only takes a day or two to become second nature, but if you get in to the car without knowing about the touch panel you could be a little perplexed for a while. You might even find yourself saying “Where are the navigation controls or air conditioning!”
The Niro EV has a CCS charge port mounted in the middle of the front grille. So you must park nose-in at fast chargers. I hate going nose in and from all the driver training I’ve had over the years its feels counter-intuitive for safety and security reasons. It does make sense tough when using fast chargers with their short expensive cables. At present the KIA Niro EV comes in the high grade ‘K4’. This well-equipped grade outshines most European brands and a few premium ones too!
On the road, driving is pleasant and not overly involving,. The steering is numb but accurate, well-weighted and well-geared. The drivetrain is, as expected, super smooth. There are a number of drive modes including Sport (why!). Of course every EV driver’s favourite mode ‘Eco’ features and delivers absolutely sufficient zip for most conditions. There are paddle shifters to regulate the amount of regenerative brake force is delivered when you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal (4 stages). The i-Pedal mode is great in busy areas as it allows near one pedal driving and stopping, while on the open road you can set the car to almost coast along. Our test car’s adaptive cruise control worked very well and the head up display help us keep our eyes on the road ahead.
The rotary gearshift dial is one of the biggest you’ll find in any car and its positioning on the centre console is spot on. There are lots of oddment stowage spots in the cabin and a well positioned rubberised wireless phone charger tray. A USB cable will allow connection to Apple Carplay and there is a USB C socket for charging only.
So what’s bad with the Niro EV? With weight saving the plot has been lost when it comes to making the boot a silent place for those in the cabin. A fabric floppy mesh thing replaces the traditional tray that would seal off the boot. Instead if you have anything that is loos in the boot you will hear it slide and hit off the side of the cargo area. When I picked the car up the cable and a cardboard box were in the boot and not stowed securely below the boot floor (there is space for a cable and some other bits there) – these slid and slided about on one journey and instead of just pulling in and stowing them properly I allowed their soundtrack get under my skin! Okay so that’s the only niggle.
The KIA Niro EV is a great car and as an EV works well. The Niro EV has a 64.8kWh rechargeable battery, CCS charge port, up to 460km range and a 750kg towing capacity. The front wheel drive has 204hp/255nm on tap and can do 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds. Average electric consumption is quoted at 16.2kW/100km.
With talk of looming power cuts this winter it also has the handy Vehicle to Device power adapter that allows you access the car’s battery fro run things you want to put in to it. The only thing keeping it from sitting outright on the top of the class is the fact the new Renault Megane EV has a much faster onboard 22kW charger as standard – this ability to take a faster AC electric charge makes the public network of slow chargers much more useful in day to day driving in the new Renault – reducing time spent stationary.
The KIA Niro EV net of grants and VRT rebate starts at €43,550. We like this EV a lot at Motorhub Towers.