It’s hard to over-estimate the power of the Kia Niro for the Korean firm. It’s Kia’s second best-selling car in the UK with almost 80,000 of them having been sold in the UK since 2016.
Of course, the Niro has been the right car at the right time. The sheer flexibility of offering hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric power options in the same bodystyle gives drivers maximum choice to suit their needs. It’s also telling that in 2021, some 50 per cent of all Niros sold were the fully-electric model, with the plug-in hybrid taking a further 10 per cent.
This fully electric Niro comes in 2, 3 and 4 trim levels all with a 64.8kWh battery and a pricing structure that starts from £36,795.
KIA NIRO EV – DESIGN
If you haven’t liked the look of recent Kias, then we’d argue that you need to book a visit to the opticians. From the Sportage to the EV6 to this Niro, we think that Kia is smashing it out of the park of late when it comes to design.
While there are some obvious family design cues, the Niro remains original and striking with kinked LED front lights and the option of three different finishes for the C-pillar between the tailgate and rear door that can either be body-colour or also as a contrast grey/ silver finish.
We quite like this contrast panel but it can be rather colour-sensitive to the rest of the car. In the Steel Grey of our test car, ironically we felt it didn’t stand out enough, but also looked an awkward mis-match with the wheel-arch surrounds as well.
One detail we do like though is that that C-pillar hides a clever slim hollow section, enabling easier air flow to the back of the car which is just about visible by the tailgate.
KIA NIRO EV – POWER AND RANGE
All Niro EVs get the same 64.8kWh battery giving it an official fully-charged range of 285 miles with an efficiency rating of 3.8mls/kWh. In the cold temperatures during our testing, we averaged 3.6mls/kWh and saw a maximum displayed range of 253miles, so it shouldn’t be too hard to match the official figures in more reasonable conditions. Using the heater does eat into the range a little, but nowhere near as much as on, say, the Toyota bZ4X.
Kia claims a full charge time on a home wallbox of 9 hours and 25 minutes, while a 100kW charger will take just 45 minutes for an 80 per cent charge. There are Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes, while the regenerative braking levels can be adjusted using the paddles behind the steering wheel – more of which in the next section.
Officially, Kia claims a 0 to 60mph time of 7.8 seconds with a 103mph top speed, although the reality is that few are likely to explore the Niro’s performance characteristics to that extent given the nature of the car.
KIA NIRO EV – ON THE ROAD
As just stated, given the Niro EV’s nature as a family crossover, this isn’t the kind of car that you’re going to be cornering on its door mirrors any time soon.
The reality is, you probably won’t want to either. There’s little feedback about what the car is doing beneath you and it’s certainly a car that’s tuned more for comfort than for performance.
That’s underlined by the Kia’s wheels. Despite our car being a ‘4’ spec, it came with 17-inch wheels. The downside of that was that, with so many car designs used to large wheels now, they looked a little under-sized on the Niro. The upside however, came with the ride quality, which was excellent.
Road defects and potholes that would see rivals crash into them are dealt with with ease and little vibration back into the cabin. For what is not a large SUV, it’s surprisingly refined.
The regenerative braking has effectively four settings operated via those steering wheel paddles. Starting from 0 which is effectively a coasting mode, it scrolls up to i-Pedal which is virtually one-pedal driving. Modes two or three are probably best for everyday driving, although we preferred to switch according to the roads and traffic conditions. The only criticism is that somewhat counter-intuitively, the left-hand paddle is to raise the level of regenerative braking while the right is to lower it, which we’d thought would make more sense to make the other way round?
KIA NIRO EV – INTERIOR
Much like its outside styling, Kia has been absolutely smashing its interiors of late and the same story is largely true here as well.
There are more than a few echoes of the EV6 and Sportage with the dashboard design which is no bad thing. There’s also the twin-display touch panel on the lower section of the dashboard for either the ventilation or the infotainment, which some find to be a little awkward to use on the move, but we quite like.
The rest of the interior is spacious and smart and also very comfortable, although there are some harder plastics on the doors. There’s also heated and cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel along with heated rear seats too, while we also love the neat touch of the USB C ports mounted in the side of the front seats for those in the back. Rear seat space is otherwise ok, but it’s a little cosy for adults and there’s not much foot room if the front seat is in its lowest position.
The boot is 475 litres with the rear seats up and 1392 litres with them (50 litres up on the PHEV model incidentally) lowered with cable storage underneath the floor. We’re not fans of the rear parcel shelf though which is just piece of floppy fabric and just looks and feels cheap. There’s also a very small ‘frunk’ under the bonnet of 20 litres.
As we said in our introduction with the previous Niro, Kia had the right car at exactly the right time – hence the key to its success. Arguably, that’s even more the case now with this latest version, especially in this all electric form given the greater acceptance of EVs.
In contention for the World Car awards shortlist this year, the Niro will be all that many drivers need and, as a crossover, is the bodystyle that many are favouring today. And, while we’re testing the full EV here, the ability to buy exactly the same car in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric forms is a boon for drivers faced with a choice to electrification that they may not be fully prepared for.
For us though, the ability of the Niro to be all things to all drivers remains and that fundamentally underpins its appeal. An excellent car that only strengthens Kia’s growing position in the EV market and a very worthy contender for World Car of the Year.
Model: Kia Niro EV
Price: from £36,795
Power: Battery – 64.8kWh
Range: 285 miles
Average efficiency: 3.8mls/kWh
Average charge time on a domestic wallbox: 9hrs 25mins