- Decent driving range that proved accurate
- High-end interior with classy tech
- Great to drive in and out of the city
- Rear seats can be a little cramped
- Pedestrians struggled to hear the car in noisy London streets
- Some rivals are more dynamic to drive
Kia has recently unleashed its all-new five-door Niro SUV and customers can choose from hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electrified versions with generously-equipped trim levels called ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’. And, as is the Kia way, there are very few optional extras to catch you out at the check-out desk.
We are concentrating on the Niro EV which replaces the e-Niro – a car that accounted for half of all Niro sales in the UK. It proved a great success for the Korean carmaker, and with all the upgraded technology, the new model will almost certainly increase its popularity further.
All versions feature a 64.8kWh lithium-ion battery with single-speed automatic transmission and the driving range between charges is an impressive 285 under WLTP testing.
New Niro EV has been remodelled from the ground up and designed to have extra road presence compared to its predecessor and it certainly gains plenty of attention from onlookers.
The ‘2’ trim features dual LED headlamps, 17-inch alloys, cloth upholstery, rear parking sensors and camera, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB radio and a 10.25-inch TFT cluster. Owners also get forward collision avoidance, smart cruise control, 11kW on-board charging and a battery heating system.
Grade ‘3’, as tested, gains a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen display, with sat nav, cloth and faux leather upholstery, front parking sensors, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. It has blind spot collision avoidance, a wireless smartphone charger and the option of a heat pump plus Vehicle-to-Device functionality.
The range-topping ’4’ version introduces vegan leather upholstery, heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a powered tailgate, electric sunroof remote smart parking, optional contrast-coloured C-pillars, along with steel grey wheel arches. There are extra safety systems such as highway driving assist, reverse parking collision avoidance and an upgraded forward collision avoidance set-up.
The interior incorporates many sustainable materials and is high-end in its design with controls easy to operate on the fly.
On The Road
Handling & Performance
The Niro EV boasts 201bhp and 255Nm of torque which means it can power from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds and tops out at 103mph.
In busy city centres with lots of stop, start traffic the level of regenerative braking can be increased and an i-PEDAL comes into force in its highest setting. This means you can drive through London or the likes without touching the brakes and boost the battery levels in the process.
But few EVs are just as impressive away from the city lights when faced with more aggressive and demanding driving conditions. Out on the open road, the Niro EV’s acceleration is sharp and smooth with a constant stream of power at your disposal to make light work of overtaking.
It is nicely balanced with ample grip and minimal body sway on fast, twisting lanes and the elevated driving position offers great driver visibility.
Drive modes called Eco, Normal and Sport alter the characteristics of the car and there is also a Snow setting for driving in more adverse weather conditions.
The steering is well-weighted and the driving range seemed accurate with a city range of about 375 miles or combined range of 285 miles.
Space & Practicality
The second-generation Niro EV is 65mm longer than the outgoing model stretching 4,420mm. It is 1,825mmm wide (an increase of 20mm) and 10mm taller at 1,570mm. In addition, the wheelbase has grown by 20mm to 2,720mm and that means extra space inside the car for occupants and their luggage.
The deep boot, with a practical wide opening, can swallow 475 litres of kit, increasing to 1,392 litres with the 60:40 split folding rear seats dropped flat.
Passenger space impresses too with ample room for adults to sit in the back without feeling cramped. Three youngsters could easily fit in and our ‘3’ grade model boasted adjustable multi-angled rear seats. There are Isofix fixtures to the outer rear seats and the wide opening doors offer easy access to a child seat.
Elsewhere, there are numerous storage compartments throughout the car, including a glovebox, door bins with room for a bottle, non-slip trays, front and rear cup holders, seat back pockets, along with USB-C ports in the sides of the front seats and a USB and USB-C port up front.
Charging from 10-80 per cent takes 45 minutes via a 100kW DC charger, or 43 minutes with a 350kW DC rapid charger.
The Niro EV line-up costs £36,245 for the ‘2’ spec, £38,995 for the ‘3’ grade and £41,745 for the high-end ‘4’ model.
A heat pump is an optional extra costing £900 and our test car featured one. This clever system offers a more efficient way to warm up the cabin without impacting on the battery and also improves the driving range during those cold winter months.
With zero carbon emissions, the Niro EV is exempt from any road tax charges and even if the top ‘4’ model went just over the £40k price, its owners would not have to pay the additional premium car levy of £355 for five years like drivers of ICE cars do.
It is also free from Congestion Charges or low emission zone fees.
The Benefit in Kind tax rating of two per cent makes the Niro EV an attractive model for fleet markets and the insurance rating for the Niro EV ‘3’ is group 29.
Since its launch back in 2019, the e-Niro sold 26,000 models in the UK. Now, the bigger, better and more efficient Niro EV has picked up the baton and is available in showrooms. The e-Niro was the second best-selling EV in the UK during 2021 and the first half of 2022, so there are high hopes for this improved version with its cutting-edge electric powertrain.