General

Reviewed: Kia Niro – one of the best electric family cars yet

Kia’s new Niro EV may not have improved much in terms of range, but the battery efficiency is very impressive. It also has some other very strong selling points.

This is the second generation Niro EV and there was an air of expectation that it would have a much greater range than the car it replaces. It doesn’t. What it does do is deliver a range closer to what you are told to expect and it does so very efficiently.

Given the number of factors that come into play with electric cars, few manage to come close to what manufacturers claim is possible. Cold weather, driving on the highway, using heating, air conditioning and lighting all draw on the available capacity of the battery. It’s easy to see a charge draining faster than you’d expect.

In the case of the Niro, my available range was about 366 km and despite many highway trips and the use of radio and media, lighting and the like, the energy consumption corresponded well with the available range. So after about 220 kilometers, my available range was within 2 kilometers of the miles traveled. It’s something that many other cars can’t handle and it’s a strong factor in reducing range. I never felt like I would be caught by a rapidly diminishing charge. Given my experience with other EVs, it was quite a unique and strong selling point.

The price was another strong selling point. The basic K3 version costs €38,500, while the K4 version costs €41,500 – both after grant.

I also liked the Niro pack. The styling may not be radical, but it is enough to make the car stand out. It takes much of its shape and structure from the larger Kia EV 6 – a car that is really quite radical and fun to drive.

This is especially true for the interior. All versions get the 10.5″ infotainment screen and logical digital instrument display. The overall feel is also very much that of the EV 6. It’s a clever use of technology and materials from a bigger car.

The seats are very comfortable and you can have lumbar support and leatherette in the slightly more expensive K model.

The car comfortably seats four adults and is a strong family offering due to the slight increase in height, width and length compared to the older model. It has little extras such as easily accessible USB points and a 12v socket in the trunk.

The luggage compartment has a capacity of 475 liters, which can be significantly increased by lowering the rear seats. It’s not so much class-exceeding as it is generous and practical.

The battery is a 64.8 kW unit that produces 201 horsepower and makes the car a good sprinter from 0 to 100 KPH. It’s not a battery with the fastest charging capacity – it takes about 40 minutes to get from 20 to 80% on a fast charger and will pretty much avoid the overstay charges now being introduced on public chargers.

Another strong selling point is the generous standard equipment. All versions get satellite navigation, DAB radio, multiple airbags, 18″ wheels, electrically folding and heated door mirrors, pedestrian and cyclist avoidance system, stability control, lane assist, automatic cruise control and hill start assist. And that’s not the full list Regenerative braking, that generates energy when the car brakes, contributes to battery life.

Kia cars also come with a seven-year, or 150,000-mile warranty, whichever comes first.

This car did everything without fuss and was a joy to drive. It’s a very good price and one of the best total packages out there.

It might be a little early to consider it my car of the year, but so far it is.