The Kia e-Niro is regularly cited as a benchmark in the electrical segment. For this new generation, it changes, almost, in name and form, but not its foundations. We had the opportunity to perform an exclusive handling of the Kia Niro EV.
Difficult for a manufacturer to renew a reference. And this is the case of the Kia Niro, a true estimate of the Korean manufacturer: launched in 2018, the SUV was quickly a remarkable success with, at the end of last year, a volume of more than 310,000 copies sold in Europe, all engines combined. But it was the e-Niro, replaced by the Kia Niro EV, that recorded the most meteoric rise. In particular, in France, where it accounted for almost 39% of Niro’s total sales (13,460 units) as of December 31, 2021, three and a half years after its launch.
Its secret: a central position in the market, with sizes small enough to be comfortable in the city while offering a room suitable for family use, the very essence of a compact SUV. But it also offers one of the most interesting efficiencies on the market, allowing you to mathematically offer adequate autonomy. And this is especially the case in its 64 kWh version, by far the best-selling. Our various tests are conclusive, while many owners have told us their satisfaction.
After four years of service (it is short in the life cycle of a car, but the market is moving fast), the Kia Niro comes in a whole new way with an energetic pencil stroke, a technological atmosphere and a never-before-seen technique. sight. platform. But the substance is maintained, and retains its range of only electrified engines, with soberly christened versions HEV, PHEV and EV. We have had the opportunity to take the wheel of the prototypes very (very) close to the models that will arrive in dealerships.
An almost unchanged data sheet
Contrary to expectations, the latter does not fundamentally change on paper. This is certainly the result that decision makers and engineers had to find for this new generation of compact SUVs, which will have to find a place in the coming years with the arrival of new competitors. “Under the hood”, the Kia Niro EV retains its engine and a displayed power of 204 hp. On the other hand, the value of the torque and its distribution have been reviewed, as well as the reduction ratio of the electrical machine.
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Nothing that will change the lives of motorists accustomed to the model, who enjoy relatively little of the driving eliminated with this type of vehicle. Despite the 52 kg less gained with the new platform (-20.3 kg for the blank body), the benefits are therefore strictly identical: 0-100 km / h in 7.8 if the maximum speed is maintained of 167 km / h. The times at 80-120 km / h barely evolve, with a lap time of 4.7 s against 5.0 s previously. We won’t move faster, but that’s enough to reinforce the sense of response. On the other hand, the front axle manages to better digest the arrival of the couple. This should allow you to better control your traction, especially on wet roads, especially because Continental Eco Contact 6 tires are generally good in these situations.
A more dynamic K3 platform for the Kia Niro EV
Dynamic behavior evolves with more sensitivity and the Niro is a little more alert. The relatively constant steering, guided by a two-spoke steering wheel inspired by the EV6, is more sensitive. The K3 platform has also made it possible to develop the chassis. According to engineers, increasing torsional stiffness physically improves dynamic behavior. The redesigned suspension system also has a more assertive character in the turns with a slightly more rigorous support, without this affecting the comfort, especially with the 17-inch wheels delivered as standard. In terms of dynamism, the Peugeot e-2008 can sleep in its two mirrors. But the Niro EV offers a welcome copy here.
On the highway, the differences are less marked, the SUV already shows a good level of comfort for long distances. Installed in a new technological and eco-responsible cocoon on paper, passengers can consider long journeys without thinking twice. Of course, you can’t claim the level of a Sportage, but the space is pretty correct, especially in the back. However, the distance between the bench seat and the floor is quite short, forcing the adults to lift their knees. In terms of soundproofing, it seems that the promises of the teams have been fulfilled in terms of returning the nuisance to the lower parts, but the noise of air is heard at high speed at the top of the windshield pillars. .
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Kia e-Niro 64 kWh test: what autonomy with passengers and luggage?
To drive more easily, it is full of driving aids extracted from the brand’s latest products, with in particular the HDA level 2 system, which combines adaptive cruise control with the recognition of limit signals and assistance in the road maintenance. But it does not have the last touches, such as the display of blind spots per camera by activating the indicator (which therefore prevents access to the images in the 360 ° camera menu). If our test model in the advanced prototype stage close to a pre-series was equipped with a front screen, the French models will have none. Too bad for fans of this equipment, especially because reading the speed on the digital speedometer is not always easy. But it is still possible to show the speed numerically in the center.
A total range of 300 km is not impossible on the highway
A true benchmark in terms of efficiency and autonomy, the Kia Niro EV is therefore expected to be at the turning point in this area. This new version incorporates a new 64.8 kWh (+ 0.8 kWh) battery, which is no longer supplied by SK Innovation (without the name of the new supplier to contact us). This is partly due to the improvement in the advertised average range of 460 km, ie 5 km better than before, while the normal consumption increases very slightly (16.2 kWh / 100 km against 15.9 kWh / 100 km). Definitely a matter of aerodynamics, although the Cx of 0.29 has hardly changed (only value reported at the moment).
On the road, it is perfectly impossible to take stock of the evolution of consumption, especially during this quick exit. However, we decided to take the highway for about 140 km. A composite portrait of the terrain: a mountain road infested with works on the Mediterranean front in the region of Genoa, Italy. It is not enough to improve the “lap” time (we measured it back and forth), with an average of about 110 km / h. In the end, the dashboard showed us a consumption of 19.1 kWh / 100 km. This corresponds to a range of 340 km according to a strict rule of three, or 238 km of “useful” range of 10 to 80%. Always terrible! At 130 km / h (as little as we could stand), we estimated a consumption of around 22 kWh / 100 km averaging the data shown. But let us remember the merely informative nature of this data, as this speed is seldom maintained during a long journey.
Faster loading, but moderately fast
But it is in terms of recharging that the Kia Niro EV is wondering. While most connoisseurs of the model expected a significant change in the announced maximum load power to bring it to the level of competition, the electric SUV “returns”: a value of 77 kW, now down to 72.8 kW. Surprise among customers! But Kia specifies that the load curve has been reworked at the software level, allowing it to retain power longer. Without control, power is nothing, as Pirelli’s famous slogan would say. Proof of this is with the Megane e-Tech for example, for which we have a real load curve in our database: advertised with a peak at 130 kW, it takes 37 minutes to make 10-80% a 60 kWh battery in total.
We didn’t get a chance to recharge during this test. We were only able to recharge an Ionity Veefil terminal for 15 minutes between 65% and 80% charge. The opportunity to realize, conditionally, that the bearings would last longer: we still had 44 kW of power at 80% load, when we disconnected the vehicle. A full recharge will be required to take note of this new curve. Meanwhile, Kia communicates 10-80% in 43 minutes on such terminals. The previous data sheet announced 10-80% in 54 minutes, an improvement of 20%.
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When it comes to slow charging AC power at home or in a public terminal, the Niro EV comes standard with an integrated 11 kW charger. The time for a full recharge is not specified, but it would take almost 7 hours. Following the technological trajectory of the EV6, the compact SUV also offers a V2D (Vehicle to Device) reverse charging device that allows you to connect anything, with a maximum power of 3 kW.
Kia Niro EV Review: An Evolution More Than a Revolution
The new Kia Niro EV changes more in shape than in substance, with minor mechanical changes based on the Japanese principle of Kaizen : improvement with small touches, without radically changing the formula. But the truth is that if the power of the engine matters less to the daily lives of users, that of fast charging is surprising. Especially when the figures listed in the data sheet should please customers, in a segment where the 100 kW bar seems to be a minimum. Maybe we could expect a software update in the next few years to allow it to be at the level of the upcoming competition?
However, the Niro EV retains the qualities of its predecessor in terms of efficiency and versatility. But it is becoming more and more suitable for family use with more space, a slightly larger trunk -very small-, many new technologies on board and, this can be useful, a towing capacity of 750 kg. The Kia Niro EV starts at € 41,990 in the Motion finish (or from € 267 / month in LOA) and goes up to € 45,590 in this Premium trial version. Compared to the finish of the Exit Show, it is € 1,400 less. It is true that the price may seem a bit high, but it is certainly at the forefront of its segment in terms of price / performance.
- Shocking pencil stroke
- Commitment to dynamism / comfort
- Autonomy is still formidable
- Average recharge time
- Appearance of interior materials
- Route planner summary
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