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Kia Niro EV Review

The previous generation Kia Niro EV was one of our top recommended cars; the new model is now here, with more visual character – so is it a huge step forward?

  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • KIA_e-Niro_2022+_Chargecurve
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
  • Kia Niro EV
Green Car Guide Rating: 9/10

Key stats

  • Model/Engine size:   Kia Niro EV 64.8kWh ‘2’
  • Fuel:   Electric
  • Electric driving range (WLTP): 285 miles
  • Maximum rapid charging rate:   82 kW

Summary

  • New version of one of our top recommended EVs
  • Good all-rounder
  • 285-mile electric driving range
  • New styling has more character

Background

The first-generation Kia Niro EV – launched in the UK in 2016 and called the Kia e-Niro – was a ground-breaking car because it was a family hatchback with an electric driving range of around 300 miles at a relatively affordable price. At the time its only real rival was the Hyundai Kona Electric (based on the same platform as the e-Niro). Around 78,000 e-Niros were sold in the UK up until June 2022, with a significant growth in registrations every year. The new Kia Niro EV is now here, so does it represent a similar step forward as the original model?

Kia Niro EVKia Niro EV

Design & Engineering

The styling of the Kia e-Niro didn’t turn many heads. The new Kia Niro EV has more character – as design is such a subjective thing, it’s probably up to individual car buyers as to whether they think it’s pretty or not. Its body shape seems to have become a little less curvy and a little more Kia Soul-shaped (ie. boxy).

The Niro EV is described by Kia as a ‘compact crossover utility vehicle (C-CUV)’. Whether it really is a ‘crossover utility vehicle’ we’re not sure, but the key word is ‘compact’; in other words the Niro EV offers good levels of space, but it’s not in the same league as, for example, the Kia Sportage. Nevertheless, the new Niro EV is 65mm longer – now measuring 4,420 mm in length – with a 20mm longer wheelbase. The boot is a decent size, at 475 litres (and 24 litres more than the old model), or 1,392 litres with the rear seats folded down. There’s also a 20-litre ‘front trunk’ (or ‘frunk’), which is useful for storing the charging cables – although there’s also space for the cables under the boot floor.

There’s a 64.8kWh li-ion polymer battery under the floor and a 201 bhp electric motor – both exactly the same in terms of statistics as the last e-Niro model. The front-wheel drive chassis also remains.

Kia Niro EVKia Niro EV

Kia Niro EV Driving Experience

The driving experience of the previous e-Niro model was perfectly fine, and the same applies to the new model. There’s the normal quiet and refined electric powertrain, with good responses from the electric motor, which has 201 bhp of power and 255 Nm of torque.

The ride quality is still comfortable, but one area where the new model is improved is the steering, which is now more direct. This results in the car feeling more fun and agile to drive – more so than many EVs, and the relatively compact size and light weight of 1,739 kg is likely to help.

The Niro EV is still front-wheel drive, so there’s always the risk of some wheelspin and torque steer, especially in the wet. This is in contrast to the Kia EV6, which has moved to a new, rear-wheel drive platform.

A brilliant feature – which is shared with the EV6 – is the drive mode button on the steering wheel. You just press it once to select Sport mode, which gives you more responsive acceleration and the Niro EV feels as though it has more performance on offer than a hot hatch. There are also Eco and Comfort modes, and a Snow mode is available if you press it and hold the drive mode button. This ease of use is in direct contrast to some cars where you have to delve into touchscreen sub-menus to change the drive mode.

The gear selector is a rotary dial, which is conveniently-placed, and there are also steering wheel-mounted flappy paddles to change the level of brake regeneration.

Even switching off the lane departure warning system is easy, thanks to another button on the steering wheel.

The Niro EV is quiet at motorway speeds; Kia says that the windscreen has an acoustic film, and additional insulation and padding have been inserted around the vehicle’s structure to help combat unwanted road noise.

The interior is similar to the EV6. Our Niro EV test car was an entry-level ‘2’ grade; the wide screen in the EV6 comprised of two joined units is only standard in the ‘3’ and ‘4’ trim levels. Instead our test car had a display in front of the driver and a separate central touchscreen.

Under the touchscreen is a row of digital buttons; these can be swapped between touchscreen controls and climate controls by selecting a satnav arrow or a fan symbol. The satnav arrow was slightly misleading on our test car because the grade ‘2’ doesn’t have satnav. Instead you have to use your phone, but at least there’s a clear box on the home screen that you can press to select Apple Car Play.

There are also no heated seats (or steering wheel) on the ‘2’ trim – which is bad for an EV, as heated seats can allow you to turn down the heating, so saving battery range.

The driver’s seat also has manual adjustment rather than being electric, which means that it’s more of a challenge to get a perfect driving position.

Kia Niro EVKia Niro EV

Kia Niro EV Electric Range and Charging

The Kia Niro EV 64.8kWh has a combined WLTP electric driving range of 285 miles (the previous model had a 282-mile range). The WLTP city range is 375 miles.

During a week of mixed driving with the Niro EV the real-world range was 230-250 miles. We managed to squeeze 300 miles out of the last generation e-Niro with careful driving, so we imagine the same could be possible with the new model.

The Niro EV has a maximum rapid charging rate of 82 kW. This is one of the big differences with the Kia EV6, which has a maximum ultra-rapid charging rate of 233 kW, thanks to its 800V electrical architecture.

The Niro EV should take around 45 minutes to charge from 10% to 80% at a 100 kW rapid charger. A full charge should take 9 hours 25 minutes at a 7.2 kW home wallbox charger. This would be cut down to 6 hours 20 minutes using an 11 kW three-phase charger (typically found at a workplace in the UK).

‘Vehicle-to-Device’ capability allows you to charge other items of electrical equipment.

Electric cars do not charge at their maximum charge rate for an entire charging session – their charge rate typically starts off high with a battery with a low state of charge, then the charge rate decreases as the battery charge increases. See the charge curve for the Kia Niro EV from Fastned:

KIA_e-Niro_2022+_Chargecurve

How to charge an electric car

Kia Niro EVKia Niro EV

Price And Model Range

The Kia Niro EV 64.8kWh ‘2’ costs £36,745. There are three model grades – ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’. Prices for the Niro EV ‘3’ start from £37,340, and the ‘4’ starts from £42,245. For comparison, the EV6 starts from £45,195.

The Niro EV ‘2’ trim level includes a 10.25-inch instrument cluster, 17-inch alloy wheels, an 11kW on-board charger, steering wheel paddle shifters to set the regenerative breaking level, and a battery heating system.

The Niro line-up also includes hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

Eight colours are available, with optional contrast-colour C-Pillar on ‘4’ versions.

Kia Niro EVKia Niro EV

Conclusion

The last generation Kia e-Niro was one of our top recommended electric cars because it offered a practical body style, almost a 300-mile range, and it was relatively affordable.

The new Kia Niro EV ticks the same boxes, and adds styling with more character. It also feels slightly more engaging to drive, which is a good thing.

However the new model doesn’t represent as much progress as the original e-Niro did when it was launched. This comparison is even more marked if you compare the Niro EV with the excellent Kia EV6, which, for example, can charge at a rate of 233 kW, compared to the 82 kW for the Niro EV.

So the Kia Niro EV remains a very good all-round EV, and critically, good value in entry-level ‘2’ trim (if you can survive without sat nav and heated seats – items that are usually fairly important for an EV,). However overall the Kia Niro EV doesn’t match the leap forward that the last generation e-Niro did, and so it’s awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 9 out of 10.

Car facts and figures Kia Niro EV Review

  • Test electric driving range: 230-250 miles
  • Consumption (WLTP): 162 Wh/km
  • CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
  • Vehicle tax rate (VED):   £0
  • Benefit in Kind (BIK) company car tax liability (2022/23): 2%
  • Price:   £36,745
  • Insurance group:  28
  • Power:   201 bhp
  • Torque:   255 Nm
  • Max speed:   103 mph
  • 0-62 mph:   7.8 seconds
  • Weight:   1,739 kg
  • Towing capacity: 750 kg
Paul Clarke

Review by:
Paul Clarke, GreenCarGuide Editor