Kia Niro Electric
We have a winner
For this test the most popular of the three engines was chosen: the fully electric Niro (EV for short). From the outside however, there is little to show for it. Every Niro follows Kia's new house style called "Opposites Unite". This gives the car a more than modern and confident look. However, the Niro doesn't look like a do-gooder or a car from another era, like the (partly) electric cars from other brands do.
And that was exactly the intention! The Niro is meant to be a functional family car, not a collector's car or a technical masterpiece (Kia has the "EV6" for that). Because the platform on which the Kia is built is tailor-made for (partly) electric cars, the Niro gets the maximum interior space out of the exterior measurements and that was exactly the intention.
Space and equipment
The space in the front is fine, the headroom in the rear sufficient. Note that the Niro EV offers slightly less headroom in the rear than the other versions, because the battery extends under the rear seat. On the other hand, this electric Niro has the largest boot (475 litres) of all variants.
The dashboard is modern, but at the same time so logically laid out that everyone immediately feels at home. The Niro does not have a minimalist interior without any buttons. Only where it makes sense buttons have been replaced by the central display. Next to that there are plenty of buttons left and during the test drive this was experienced as a good balance.
The equipment is modern and complete, but never innovative. New for the Niro is the availability of a head-up display. Because essential data is projected in the driver's field of vision, driving is less strenuous. Very clever: if there is an object in the blind spot, it is shown by a symbol in the head-up display.
Despite the fact that the previous Niro was launched in 2016, Kia still expects the Niro to be the first electric vehicle for many buyers. And because novice electric drivers often suffer from range anxiety , the Niro comes standard with a very large battery. With a theoretical range of 460 km (WLTP) that provides the desired peace of mind, but also a high entry price.
A large battery can store a lot of energy, so the Niro can also charge quickly. A 2.3 kW charge can be obtained from the mains, while the maximum charging speed at a public charge point is 11 kW (3 phase). Under ideal circumstances the Niro can charge at 84 kW with a quick charger. This is slower than before, but Kia promises a higher average charge rate.
Regrettably the charging socket is in the middle of the nose, forcing the driver to park forwards (larger turning circle when turning in, less overview when parking out). What does come in handy: under the bonnet there is a space ("frunk") to store the charging cables for example. There is also an optional adapter which allows the Niro EV to be used as a power source (220 volts, maximum 3 kW).
The Niro EV offers the choice of a single electric motor that produces a maximum of 204 hp / 255 Nm. Many electric cars (including the previous Niro) with such power are viciously fast and therefore a joy to drive. However, the Niro is meant as a family car, not a fun car. Therefore software ensures that the engine power is built up gradually. Nevertheless it is noticeable that the Niro EV is very strong, because although it lacks eagerness, it leaves little to be desired.
Using levers behind the steering wheel the driver can choose in steps how much energy is recovered when releasing the accelerator (more deceleration = more recovery). In the last step, called "i-Pedal", the Niro decelerates so much that the brake pedal is only needed in emergency situations. This so-called "one pedal driving" is for many an advantage of electric driving, but those who don't like it can choose minimal regeneration (comparable to the character of a conventional car).
During the test under ideal weather conditions (warm, windless) the test consumption in the city amounted to 12 kWh / 100 km. The entire test drive including highways and single carriageways consumed 15.5 kWh / 100 km, making the Niro EV average for a car in this class.
The battery doesn't just determine the range and price of an electric car, but also its handling. Because of its large battery, the Niro EV is noticeably heavier than the hybrid versions. This weight doesn't make the Niro EV stately or grand, just "heavy". It doesn't make the Niro less stable though, because road holding is fine.
On top of that the Niro EV is a bit taller than the other versions. Because the batteries are integrated in the floor, the ground clearance was reduced. To compensate, the Niro EV is sits a bit higher on the springs than the other versions and that also makes for a slightly less dynamic handling. The low and centrally placed battery does make the electric version still the most stable Niro.
Will the second generation of the Kia Niro again become the best selling car in its class? Unfortunately for Kia there are many new competitors since the launch of the first Niro, which makes it more likely that another car will better suit the taste of the individual buyer. On the other hand, the new Niro does everything the previous one did and always does it better.
More than that: the Kia Niro is an almost faultless car. And that is exactly where the strength of this model lies. The new Niro is not a fun car and does not excel on any point. Instead the Niro is practical and functional and that is exactly what the general public is looking for. On top of that there are three engine options, so the Niro can be partly, mostly or fully electric. In short: we have a winner!
- Good handling
- Modern, useful technology
- Solid, functional and sensible
- Feels heavy
- Awkward location of charging socket