Could this be the EV that steals marketshare in the small to mid size SUV segment here in Australia?
The Kia Niro EV is certainly packed with features but still priced a tad higher than its brother, the Kona EV.
Lets see what Car Sales had to say about this new entry in the EV market in their review:
The new Kia Niro EV is another capable small SUV from South Korea, and it’s an environmentally friendly electric vehicle as well. But can the high price be justified or is this another green car that will leave motorists seeing red? Let’s take a closer look.
The Kia Niro EV is powered by the same motor and battery as the Hyundai Kona Electric from Kia’s parent company, but the Niro EV is a little larger, about 100 millimetres longer than the Kona. Kia is selling the Niro in two grades, S and Sport, and the EV version of the Niro sits at the top of the range, above hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. The vehicle tested is a Niro EV Sport, priced just under $66,000, and that’s $10K less than the Kona Electric Highlander.
The tell-tale signs that this particular vehicle is electric include this dimple blank here in place of a conventional grill that you get on the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models of the Niro, plus these blue highlights down here and here, and the charge port, of course.
The Niro is a fairly conventional design otherwise, and the Australian market is seeing the car for the first time in face-lifted form. The Niro EV promises well over 400 kilometres range from it’s 64 kilowatt-hour battery and apparent torque figures mirror those of the Hyundai Kona Electric as well.
The motor drives through a single reduction gear to the front differential, relying on abundant torque available from very low revs to overcome the lack of varying or variable ratios in the transmission. Inside the Niro EV is standard Kia design with a few exceptions. The indicator stalk is on the left. The wiper is on the right. There’s this rotary dial selector for the drive modes, and these clever bottle holders which can convert to accepting a cup with a push of just one button. The Niro is well equipped with plenty of advanced comfort and convenience features, including this 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen in the flagship model, running Android Auto, Apple Car Play, Bluetooth and digital radio.
Other standard features of the Niro EV Sport include satellite navigation, shift paddles, operated seats, alloy sports pedals, automatic power windows and an auto-dipping mirror. Both grades are equipped as standard with a six-speaker audio system, keyless entry and electric folding mirrors. Across the range, the Niro EV features seven air bags, including one for the driver’s knee, plus autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and driver fatigue monitoring. To that, the flagship Niro EV Sport adds blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
The Niro EV’s longer wheel base delivers more rear-seat legroom than either the Hyundai Kona or the Nissan Leaf e+. Adjustable vents will keep the kids warm or cool according to the season. The deep boot of the Niro EV is handy for young families, and it’s certainly larger than the boot of the Hyundai Kona Electric. But fold the rear seats down, and you’re left with a step, which will reduce the facility for sliding bigger loads into the car. And a car nudging $70,000 on the road without a powered tailgate seems like an oversight. So Niro EV is a family-friendly package, but what’s it like on the road? It’s time to find out.
The Niro EV’s driving position offers plenty of adjustment for comfort and control. The instruments and controls are pretty user-friendly and the seat cushioning is moderately firm, but the seats themselves are well shaped for comfort. Even with its larger footprint, the Niro EV is livelier to drive than it’s cousin the Kona. In keeping with Kia’s class-leading reputation for driving dynamics, the Niro EV feels really nice to drive, thanks to the Euro chassis tune and the Michelin tyres.
In town, where the Kia will spend most of its life, the ride quality is fit for purpose. It does pitch and toss a little, but the ride smooths out at higher speeds. Naturally, powered by an electric motor, the Niro EV is very quiet inside by any measure, apart from the pedestrian warning at low speeds. Over the course of the test drive, the Niro EV used as little as 15.5 kilowatt-hours, making it a pretty efficient EV. With its relatively low waist line, high-driving position and things like reversing cameras, the Niro EV does provide a pretty good field of vision, although the A pillar on the left does tend to obscure the field of vision when you’re at an intersection.
The Niro strikes a nice balance of driving enjoyment and ease of use. Although the Niro EV is covered by a seven-year warranty, like all Kia’s, that applies to the battery as well. Seven years of coverage or 150,000 kilometres, which is a year less than either the Kona or the Leaf e+. In many ways, the Niro EV is the car that the Hyundai Kona could have been, but the Kona is quite appealing too in its own way.
The Niro is almost the new champion in this sector of the market, based on packaging and drivability, but the price is not exceptional and the reduced battery warranty poses a problem for buyers who are already concerned about the cost of battery replacement out of the warranty period. But consider the style, the packaging, the driving dynamics and the range, and the argument in favour of the Niro EV does start to stack up.