Launched in 2016, the Kia Niro began to show the weight of the years and the date, especially with its multi-engine J Eco-Car platform. In these years, the manufacturer’s compact SUV has the luxury of becoming a bestseller and one of the best-selling compact SUVs on French soil. But faced with sharper competition, it’s time for the manufacturer to review its copy. The new generation Kia Niro therefore benefits from a nice facelift, while still being offered in three powertrains: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric.
It is in this full-electric version and in the Premium finish that we settle behind the wheel. The electric offer of the Kia Niro EV (which is therefore no longer called e-Niro) starts at €44,490 in the Motion finish, then rises to €46,490 in the Active finish and ends at €48,090 in the Premium finish in our test.
From the basic finish, the Kia Niro EV is well equipped, with 10.25-inch digital instrumentation, an 8-inch touch screen, adaptive cruise control with lane keeping assist and traffic jam assist, the fatigue detector, the dual-zone wind. conditioning, the reversing camera and even the LED lights and 17-inch rims. The intermediate finish adds connected navigation with a 10.25-inch touch screen, heated seats and steering wheel, and electrically folding mirrors. Our Premium test version was distinguished by an electric tailgate, electric front seats, 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 expresses itself. The design of the front face adopts the latest modification of the Tiger Face specific to the new Kia. Wider than its predecessor, it now extends from the engine cover to the lower part of the front fenders. The headlamps are equipped with Full LED headlights and LED foglamps.
The interesting shield is distinguished by a double-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 socket is now in the middle of the front panel.
The Kia Niro has also refined its profile, notably with a more aerodynamic C-pillar. The drag coefficient (Cx) is also reduced by 0.29. The design of the rims is also part of this logic. At the rear, the boomerang lights reinforce the relevance of the new Kia EV6. Customers have a choice of nine exterior colors, three of which (Pearl White, Cityscape Green and Mineral Blue) allow the C-pillar to be painted in another color.
Kia Niro gets in any case 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 2 cm (2.72 m) longer. An interesting number that gives this compact SUV a good place to live, especially in the back seats where the occupants get legroom.
Also a good surprise, the trunk gets 25 l and the tops of 475 l, not counting the 20 l in the front trunk. By lowering the back seat, the volume even increases to 1392 l. It’s not funny, especially since unusually, the EV version has a bigger trunk than its PHEV and hybrid siblings.
A final point of completion that requires a leap forward with material changes without real criticism and above all a beautiful design of the dashboard. The set is well finished and flattering to the eye, except for the lower part. Note all the same an abundance of buttons that can be a little distracting to the neophyte.
Comfort and equipment
However, the ergonomics remain nice. The center console has seat and steering wheel heating controls, as well as parking aids. There is also a P, R, N, D gear ratio wheel as well as a Start button that operates without a key.
The central console uses the same touch strip found in the Kia EV6 or its cousin Ioniq 5. A row of commands allows you to select interface menus and change the display of this strip. So you can access 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 sits well in the hand – although we’re not fans of its slightly too chunky design – and the controls are well placed to be operated with the thumbs, but the pictograms lack clarity.
The top of the dashboard has two screens of 10.25 inches each, connected within a slightly curved frame, like the EV6. The central touchscreen dedicated to infotainment has the same architecture and layout as the Ioniq 5, with several sub-menus. The graphics are modern, the responsiveness is unremarkable and the interface is complete and dense – little adaptation time is required.
Many settings are available, such as the possibility of choosing the maximum load, driver assistance, comfort options, light customization or even access to Kia Live. We noticed however that while the matte panel offers good brightness, it is more sensitive to fingerprints.
The new Niro EV benefits from several other convenience features, including the Remote Parking Assistance System (RSPA) and the Bi-Directional Charging (V2L) function. Among the driving aids, there is a collision avoidance system with blind spot detection, rear traffic detection, emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control, along 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 proportion to the remaining autonomy. However, we regret the absence of a “route planner” that will combine the charging stages of the navigation route.
Finally, the digital instrumentation, carried by another 12.3-inch screen, does not change its field, but it is easy to read and easy to manage.
Management and performance
According to the manufacturer, the new Niro EV has improved its handling, with different suspension and steering settings. The rear structure is stiffened to reduce vibrations and the ground connections are optimized for better road holding. And indeed, when the steering wheel is in hand, the improvement is amazing.
Noise measurement at 50 km/h
Noise measurement at 130 km/h
The driving modes allow you to play with the accelerator response and the power available. If Eco mode does the job in the city, it’s above all Normal mode that offers the best compromise. The Kia Niro EV proved to be good everywhere as long as the pace was running in a range from “cool to a little rush”. The direction is constant. Suspension comfort is good, with well-damped body movements. The silence of the operation is also very nice.
By switching to sport mode and increasing the speed a little, the front axle becomes a little lazy, and especially the rear causes somewhat strange reactions when the asphalt is not perfectly smooth. The Kia Niro EV is capable of chaining a series of turns that are healthy, but more comfortable at a reasonable pace.
The change is made in 4 levels, including the One-Pedal mode that only allows driving with the right pedal – except in emergency situations. The leg lift efficiency is very important and hits the kidneys of the passengers a little, but we appreciate this mode in an 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 highway, 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 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 announced WLTP cycle).
For our part, we noticed 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 at speed, consumption rises to 23.2 kWh/100 km on the highway. The average of 15.9 kWh / 100 km, this places the electric version of the Niro among the good students in our comparison. However, it is associated with a relatively low battery capacity and an average measured distance of 374 km.
As far as charging times are concerned, the manufacturer announces 6 h 20 min to go from 0 to 100% in a 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 the best.
The Niro EV incorporates a bi-directional charging function (V2L) and is capable of hauling up to 750 kg.
Welcome to the new design.
Lots of equipment.
Complete and responsive interface.
The abundance and comfort of climbing.
Versatility on the road.
Less cluttered ergonomics.
Too many submenus in the interface.
Recessed DC load.
How does grading work?
Good almost everywhere, the new Kia Niro EV offers a versatile, smooth and hassle-free driving experience. It takes away from the game important criteria such as comfort, equipment and handling, although this last aspect is clearly lacking in fun. However, it compensates for a new, complete interface and above all a rich endowment from the entry level. Unfortunately the price will cool more than one, mainly because the recharge time is also not a strong point.