Kia Niro was launched in 2016 and began to show the weight of the year and to date, especially with its multi-engine J Eco-Car platform. In these years, the manufacturer’s compact SUV has had the luxury of becoming a bestseller and one of the best-selling compact SUVs on French soil. But faced with increasingly stiff competition, it was time for the manufacturer to review its copy. The new generation Kia Niro therefore benefits from a nice 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 got behind the wheel. The electric offer for the Kia Niro EV (which is therefore no longer called the e-Niro) starts at €44,490 in the Motion trim, then rises to €46,490 in the Active trim and ends at €48,090 in the Premium trim in our test.
From the basic finish, the Kia Niro EV is well-equipped with 10.25-inch digital instrumentation, an 8-inch touchscreen, adaptive cruise control combined with lane assist and traffic jam assistance, the fatigue detector, the dual-zone air. conditioning, the 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 test version features 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 at a torque of 255 Nm, 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 asserts itself. The design of the front face takes the latest variant of the Tiger Face specific to the new Kia. Wider than its predecessor, it now stretches from the engine cover to the lower part of the front fenders. The headlights are fitted with Full LED headlights and LED fog lights.
The impressive shield is characterized by its dual-level 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 port 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, the boomerang lights reinforce the association with the new Kia EV6. Customers can choose from nine exterior colours, three of which (Pearl White, Cityscape Green and Mineral Blue) allow the C-pillar to be painted in a different colour.
In any case, the Kia Niro wins by 6.5 cm in length (4.42 m), 2.5 cm in width (1.83 m) and 1 cm (1.55 m) in height. The wheelbase is also longer by 2 cm (2.72 m). An interesting figure that gives this compact SUV a good habitability, especially in the rear seats, where the passengers get legroom.
Good surprise too, the luggage compartment takes up 25 l and tops out at 475 l, not including the 20 l front luggage compartment. By lowering the backrests, the volume is even increased to 1392 l. It is not ridiculous, especially since once not custom, the EV version has a larger trunk than its PHEV and hybrid sisters.
A final point on the finish, which takes a leap forward with material adjustments without real reproach and, above all, a pleasant dashboard design. The set is well finished and flatters the eye, except in the lower part. Note, however, a certain abundance of buttons, which could disturb the neophyte a little.
Comfort and equipment
However, ergonomics remain comfortable. The center console houses the seat and steering wheel heating controls as well as the parking aids. There are also P, R, N, D gear ratio wheels as well as the Start button, which works without a key.
The central console uses the same touch strip found on the Kia EV6 or its cousin the Ioniq 5. A series of commands allows you to select the menus on the interface and change the display of this strip. You can therefore access either audio and navigation shortcuts or 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 double-spoke steering wheel feels good in the hand – even if we’re not fans of its slightly too thick design – and the controls are well placed for thumb operation, but the pictograms lack clarity.
The upper part of the dashboard houses two screens, each 10.25 inches, connected within a slightly curved frame, as on the EV6. The central touchscreen dedicated to infotainment has the same architecture and layout as the Ioniq 5, with plenty of sub-menus. The graphics are modern, the responsiveness is correct without being exceptional, and the interface is complete and tight – a little time to adapt is necessary.
Many settings are available, such as the ability to select maximum load, driver assistance, comfort options, brightness adjustment or even access to Kia Live. However, we note that while the matte panel provides good brightness, it is particularly sensitive to fingerprints.
The new Niro EV benefits from many other convenience features including the Remote Parking Assistance System (RSPA) and the Bi-Directional Charging (V2L) feature. Driving aids include the collision avoidance system with blind spot detection, rear traffic detection, emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, combined with navigation and highway assistance.
Navigation provides an acceptable experience. Unlike many manufacturers, here it is possible to preview the range of the vehicle in relation to the remaining autonomy. 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 handle.
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 stiffened to reduce vibration and the ground connections have been optimized for better road holding. And indeed, once the wheel is in hand, the progress is remarkable.
Noise measurement at 50 km/h
Noise measurement at 130 km/h
The driving modes allow you to 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. Kia Niro EV performs well almost everywhere, as long as the pace hovers in a range from “cool to a little rushed”. The direction is consistent. Suspension comfort is good, with body movements well dampened. The quietness of operation is also very pleasant.
By switching to sport mode and turning up the pace a little, the front axle becomes a little more lazy, and especially the rear gives a little strange reactions when the asphalt is not completely smooth. The Kia Niro EV is able to chain the sequences of turns healthily, but is more comfortable at a reasonable pace.
The regeneration occurs at 4 levels, including the One-Pedal mode, which only allows driving with the right pedal – except in emergency situations. The recovery by lifting the foot is quite significant and hits a bit on the kidneys of the passengers, but we appreciate this condition in a close-to-urban environment.
Finally, a word on Level 2 autonomous driving, which combines adaptive cruise control and a lane-centering function. The function is well calibrated on the motorway, with particularly useful assistance in traffic jams.
Autonomy and charging
DC load (max. 72 kW)
The new Kia Niro EV is equipped with an electric motor that develops 204 hp and a torque of 255 Nm. 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 recorded reasonable consumption in the city (13.2 kWh / 100 km) and on the road (17.7 kWh / 100 km). As the Niro’s appetite increases with speed, consumption rises to 23.2 kWh/100 km on the motorway. The average of 15.9 kWh / 100 km places the electric version of the Niro among the good students in our comparison. However, it will have to do with a rather low battery capacity and an average range measured at 374 km.
As for charging times, the manufacturer advertises 6h 20min to go from 0 to 100% on an 11kW AC wall box, but 43 minutes from 10 to 80% on a DC fast charger. It’s better, but not yet optimal.
The Niro EV integrates the two-way charging function (V2L) and is capable of towing up to 750 kg.
Welcome to the new design.
Complete and responsive interface.
Spaciousness and comfort increase.
Versatility on the road.
Slightly messy ergonomics.
Abundance of submenus in the interface.
Submerged DC load.
How does grading work?
Good almost everywhere without being excellent, the new Kia Niro EV offers a versatile, smooth and hassle-free driving experience. It pulls itself out of the game on essential criteria such as comfort, equipment and handling, although this last aspect clearly lacks fun. It nevertheless compensates with a new, complete interface and, above all, 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.