This was an era, remember, in which a similarly-priced Nissan Leaf could only cover 168 miles between charges. The Kia’s game-changing 114-mile advantage gave people the confidence to make the switch; glittering sales ensued.
Kia is not a company to stand still, though. In 2022, it revealed an all-new Niro, one wearing the company’s flashy new logo, and with a sharp, characterful new look of its own. For all its strengths, the previous Niro was rather anonymous. This is anything but.
The Kia Niro remains a car sold as a hybrid and a plug-in hybrid too. But this time, the electric Kia Niro EV version is available from launch, rather than lagging by a couple of years. Note the name change, too: Kia Niro EV shows how electric versions are becoming normalised as part of the core line-up.
Already, Kia Niro EV sales are comprising 50% of the UK model mix. What other choice, then, but to go electric when choosing a new Kia Niro to live with for the next six months?
Our Kia Niro EV
‘Our’ Kia Niro EV is a range-topping ‘4’ model, fitted with the optional heat pump. It’s alright for some, you may say – but we’re only following the UK market, where the top-spec Kia Niro EV is the most popular model of all. That’s despite its £42,295 price tag, to which the heat pump adds £900.
A heat pump is a must-have, if you can stretch to it. Because it stretches the range, particularly in winter, and because it’s something that EV buyers are increasingly seeking, should command a secondhand premium too. This will help boost retained values and minimise the PCP monthly payment premium for picking one.
We also chose beautiful Mineral Blue premium paint, for £595, and couldn’t resist the black C-pillar option, for an extra £150. It makes the Kia Niro EV look so distinctive, with the C-pillar a bold design element that’s further accentuated by the vertical LED rear lights.
On regular Kia Niro, you have a choice of 16-inch or 18-inch alloys. On Kia Niro EV, you only have 17-inch wheels, with a smooth aero-optimised design. The ‘3’ and ‘4’ get LED headlights, front fog lights and rear privacy glass, while ‘4’ adds a tilt and slide sunroof – a seemingly retro touch that I’m actually rather enjoying. Tilting the sunroof does wonders for cabin airflow without creating a racket of wind noise.
Inside, the heated and cooled seats are trimmed in vegan leather, and power seats mean I can whirr the driver’s chair right back at the push of a button. Ideal for when I’m at a public charger and want to work while I wait.
Kia Niro EV battery and range
All new Kia Niro EV have a 64.8kWh battery. It’s actually the same battery as the previous model. It also hasn’t become significantly faster to charge: Kia has stuck with the 80kW rapid charge peak, when others can take on 100kW or more. That’s a bit of a pity: will it compromise me in everyday use, I wonder?
As they all have the same wheels, all new Kia Niro EV have the same 285-mile range (the Kia e-Niro had a 282-mile range, so things haven’t improved much there, either). 0-62mph acceleration takes a sprightly 7.8 seconds and if you care not for range, it will do 103mph flat-out.
Interestingly the Kia Niro EV has the biggest boot of all new Niro, with a commodious 475-litre capacity with the seats up. The Niro Hybrid has a 451-litre, boot, and the Niro Plug-in has a 348-litre boot. Why? Because their batteries are located in the boot; the Kia Niro EV’s larger lithium ion batteries are repositioned beneath the floorpan.
Mind you, that does mean weight goes up. A basic Kia Niro Hybrid weighs 1,474kg. The Kia Niro EV weighs 1,739kg. The era of the lightweight EV remains a work in progress.
Initial impressions? It looks fantastic, actually. A real car designer’s car, with clever lines and intricate yet simple attention to detail. The interior is a more athletic place than the previous Kia e-Niro, too.
In the cold weather of spring, a full charge was showing around 225 miles. Now the warmer weather is here, it’s more like 245 miles, and improving all the time. That’s a totally dependable range too, one that doesn’t go up and down depending on whether you have the climate control on or off (I’m looking at you, Toyota BZ4X…).
So let’s dive in and see what high-mileage life is like with a new Kia Niro EV…
- Model: Kia Niro EV ‘4’
- Price: £42,295
- Price as tested: £43,940 (options: heat pump £900, premium paint £595, black C-pillar £150)
- Battery size: 64.8kWh
- Max rapid charging speed: 80kW
- Official range: 285 miles (WLTP)
- Power: 201hp
- 0-62mph: 7.8 seconds