Launched in 2016, the Kia Niro was beginning to show the weight of the years and the present, particularly with its multi-engine J Eco-Car platform. During these years, the manufacturer’s compact SUV has had the luxury of becoming a sales success and one of the best-selling compact SUVs on French soil. But in the face of increasingly strong competition, it was time for the manufacturer to review its copy. Therefore, the new generation of Kia Niro benefits from a good facelift, while still being offered with three powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric.
It is in this fully electric version and in the Premium finish that we settle at the wheel. The electric offer of the Kia Niro EV (which has the appelle donc plus e-Niro) debuts at €44,490 in Motion finish, after it starts at €46,490 in Active finish and ends at €48,090 in the Premium finish of our trial.
From the basic finish, the Kia Niro EV is well equipped, with 10.25-inch digital instrumentation, 8-inch touchscreen, adaptive cruise control plus lane-keep assist and traffic jam assist, fatigue detector, dual-zone air conditioning, reversing camera and even LED lights and 17-inch wheels. The intermediate trim adds connected navigation on a 10.25-inch touchscreen, heated seats and steering wheel, and power-folding mirrors. Our Premium tester is distinguished by a power tailgate, power front seats, an induction charger, and 18-inch wheels.
In any case, the Kia Niro EV offers an electric motor that develops 204 hp for 255 Nm of torque powered by a 64.8 kWh lithium-ion battery that allows it to travel 463 km (in the WLTP cycle).
ergonomics and design
The new Kia Niro EV is above all a new silhouette. The line becomes more muscular and the style is affirmed. The front end design adopts the latest variation of the new Kia-specific Tiger Face. Wider than its predecessor, it now extends from the engine cover to the bottom of the front fenders. The headlights are equipped with Full LED headlights and LED fog lights.
The imposing shield is distinguished by its two-tier design with upper and lower fairings. The electric version differs from the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions by a two-tone closed grille and exclusive side moldings. The charging socket is now located in the center of the front panel.
The Kia Niro also refines its profile, notably with a more aerodynamic C-pillar. The drag coefficient (Cx) also drops to 0.29. The design of the rims is also part of this logic. At the rear, boomerang-like lights reinforce the affiliation with the new Kia EV6. Customers can choose from nine exterior colors, three of which – Pearl White, Cityscape Green and Mineral Blue – allow the C-pillar to be painted in another colour.
The Kia Niro wins in any case 6.5 cm long (4.42 m), 2.5 cm wide (1.83 m) and 1 cm (1.55 m) high. The wheelbase is also 2 cm (2.72 m) longer. An interesting figure that gives this compact SUV a good habitability, specifically in the rear seats where the occupants gain legroom.
Good surprise too, the trunk gains 25 liters and reaches a maximum of 475 liters, not counting the 20 liters of the front trunk. By lowering the seat backs, the volume even increases to 1392 l. It’s not ridiculous, especially since once it’s not custom, the EV version has a bigger trunk than its PHEV and hybrid siblings.
A last point in the finish that takes a leap forward with adjustments of materials without reproaches and above all a nice dashboard design. The set is well finished and flatters the eye, except at the bottom. Keep in mind however a certain profusion of buttons that could annoy the neophyte a bit.
Comfort and equipment
However, the ergonomics are still nice. The center console houses the heated seat and steering wheel controls, as well as the parking aids. There’s also the P, R, N, D gear ratio wheel, as well as the keyless push button start.
The center console uses the same touch strip found on the Kia EV6 or cousin Ioniq 5. A row of commands allows you to select interface menus and change the display of this strip. Therefore, you can access the audio and navigation shortcuts or the ventilation controls. Two physical dials complete these controls for changing the temperature. Everything is easy to use, but not as easy as traditional controls, especially since it forces you to take your eyes off the road.
The two-spoke steering wheel fits well in the hand, even if we’re not fans of its slightly too chunky design, and the controls are well placed for thumb operation, but the pictograms lack clarity.
The top of the dashboard houses two screens of 10.25 inches each, connected within a slightly curved frame, as in the EV6. The central touch screen dedicated to infotainment has the same architecture and design as the Ioniq 5, with many submenus. The graphics are modern, the responsiveness is correct without being exceptional, and the interface is rich and dense: it takes a bit of time to adjust.
There are many settings available, such as the possibility to choose the maximum load, driver assistance, comfort options, brightness customization or even access to Kia Live. However, we note that while the matte panel offers a good brightness, it is particularly sensitive to fingerprints.
The new Niro EV benefits from many other convenience features, including Remote Parking Assist (RSPA) and Two-Way Charging (V2L). Among the driving aids, there is the collision avoidance system with blind spot detection, rear traffic detection, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, along with navigation and roadside assistance.
Navigation provides an acceptable experience. Unlike many manufacturers, here it is possible to preview the range of the vehicle in proportion to the remaining range. However, we regret the absence of a “route planner” that would integrate the charging stages into the navigation route.
Finally, the digital instrumentation, carried on another 12.3-inch screen, does not revolutionize its field, but it is quite readable and easy to use.
handling and performance
According to the manufacturer, the new Niro EV has improved its behavior, with different suspension and steering settings. The rear structure has been reinforced to reduce vibrations and the ground connections have been optimized to improve road holding. And indeed, once with the steering wheel in hand, the progress is remarkable.
Noise measurement at 50 km/h
Noise measurement at 130 km/h
Driving modes let you play with throttle responsiveness and available power. If the Eco mode does the job in the city, it is above all the Normal mode that offers the best compromise. The Kia Niro EV proves to be good just about anywhere, as long as the pace hovers in a “fresh to a little rushed” range. The address is consistent. Suspension comfort is good, with well-damped body movements. The quietness of operation is also very nice.
Switching to sport mode and picking up the pace a bit makes the front axle a bit looser, and especially the rear causes somewhat strange reactions when the tarmac isn’t perfectly smooth. The Kia Niro EV is capable of chaining turns in a healthy way, but is more comfortable at a reasonable pace.
Regeneration takes place in 4 levels, including One-Pedal mode that allows driving only with the right pedal, except in emergency situations. The recovery when lifting the foot is then quite significant and hits the passengers’ kidneys a bit, but we appreciate this mode in a peri-urban environment.
Finally, a word about level 2 autonomous driving, which combines adaptive cruise control and a lane centering feature. The feature is well calibrated on the road, with assistance particularly useful in traffic jams.
Autonomy and recharging
DC load (max. 72 kW)
The new Kia Niro EV is equipped with an electric motor that develops 204 hp for 255 Nm of torque. It is powered by a 64.8 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery that allows it to travel 463 km (in the advertised WLTP cycle).
For our part, we note reasonable consumption in the city (13.2 kWh/100 km) and on the highway (17.7 kWh/100 km). As the Niro’s appetite increases with speed, consumption rises to 23.2 kWh/100 km on the highway. Being the average of 15.9 kWh/100 km, it places the electric version of the Niro among the good students of our comparison. However, it will have to do with a rather low battery capacity and an average autonomy measured at 374 km.
As for charging times, the manufacturer announces 6 hours 20 minutes to go from 0 to 100% in an 11 kW AC wall box, but 43 minutes to go from 10 to 80% in a DC fast charging station. It’s better, but still not optimal.
The Niro EV integrates the two-way charging (V2L) function and is capable of towing up to 750 kg.
Welcome new design.
Complete and responsive interface.
Space and comfort on the rise.
Versatility on the go.
Slightly messy ergonomics.
Overabundance of submenus in the interface.
Built-in DC load.
How does the rating work?
Good almost everywhere without being great, the new Kia Niro EV offers a versatile, smooth and hassle-free driving experience. It falls out of the game on essential criteria like comfort, equipment, and handling, though the latter is clearly lacking in fun. However, it makes up for it with a complete new interface and, above all, with a rich endowment from the entry level. Unfortunately, the price will cool more than one, especially since the recharge time is not its strong point either.
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