In-depth reviews

Kia Niro EV review

“Kia’s second-generation Niro EV takes all the positives from its predecessors and improves on certain aspects”

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Pros

  • Fantastic infotainment system
  • Realistic range figure
  • Biggest boot of Niro models

Cons

  • Top models aren’t good value
  • Ordinary handling
  • Slightly cramped rear seats

Out goes the Kia e-Niro, in comes a new name for this new model: the Kia Niro EV. The old Niro has been one of Britain’s best-selling electric cars in recent years, and its replacement has only slightly tweaked the recipe.

Not that you’d know from the outside, where a radical new look greets potential buyers. As well as the attention-grabbing front end, there are high-set tail-lights and the option of rear pillars painted in a contrasting colour. Looks are subjective, of course, but it’s clear that Kia has taken on customer feedback. In our most recent Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, the e-Niro was slated for its bland styling.

There’s a new platform underneath, but in many respects the Niro EV is very similar to its forebear. Seeing as the e-Niro was our favourite electric car when it launched, that’s a good sign. However, the Niro EV has to take on a much broader selection of rivals, namely the Volkswagen ID.3, Renault Megane E-Tech Electric, Peugeot e-2008 and Citroen e-C4. Top models are at risk of treading on the toes of the Skoda Enyaq iV, not to mention the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia’s own EV6.

Speaking of the Kia EV6, the Korean brand’s flagship electric car has donated some of its technology to the smaller and cheaper Niro EV. High-spec cars get a pair of large screens that look very impressive. They work really well too. It’s a big upgrade on the system in the e-Niro, and interior quality and design has also taken a step up. The Niro EV can even charge other electrical devices and appliances if the ‘Vehicle-to-Device’ function is specified.

As before, the new Niro is available with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric powertrains. The Niro EV is the costliest to buy but by far the cheapest to run. Prices have risen compared to the first-generation car, but the equipment levels are very generous.

Because there’s no petrol engine to package into the Niro EV, there’s actually more boot space than in either of the hybrid models. You also get more luggage space than in its closest rivals, but the positioning of the battery means the rear seat space is slightly compromised. Rear-seat passengers may find the floor too high – but this isn’t a problem unique to the Niro EV.

Range, charging & running costs

The Kia Niro EV no longer has class-leading range, but its battery indicator is very accurate, reducing range anxiety

The Kia Niro EV’s 285-mile range figure is only three miles up on the old e-Niro, and ideally we’d have liked the new car to achieve 300 miles or more. But in isolation, the range is very impressive, and is more than you get from many similarly priced EVs. What’s more, Kia’s range estimates are very accurate, so you’ll be able to get close to or match the quoted figures.

Fast-charging capacity at 77kW is okay if not class-leading, but find a compatible public charger and you’ll be able to top up from 10-80% in 45 minutes. As is common, the Niro EV is more expensive than equivalent hybrid versions, but the running costs should be lower once you’ve bought it. VED (road tax) is free for EVs and servicing shouldn’t cost as much as for a petrol-engined car, while business users will also like the Niro EV for its rock-bottom company-car tax costs.

Electric motor, drive & performance

The Kia Niro EV no longer has class-leading range, but its battery indicator is very accurate, reducing range anxiety

Like a lot of EVs, the Kia Niro EV offers a smooth and quiet driving experience around town. It’ll feel very refined and cosseting if you’re swapping from a petrol or diesel car. And a new platform means that even existing Niro owners should notice that the new car is quieter and soaks up bumps better. The ride isn’t perfect; the extra weight of the battery pack compared to the hybrid models means it can get a little unsettled over a long patch of poor tarmac.

The Niro EV offers strong performance, too. Its 0-62mph time of 7.8 seconds is plenty for a family crossover, and it feels brisk even when joining a motorway. Its steering weight allows for smooth cornering. Not a lot of tyre noise makes its way into the cabin, either. Just don’t expect the sensible Niro EV to serve up much fun for the driver.

Interior & comfort

The high-tech and well-specced interior is a Niro highlight

We’re really pleased that the infotainment system from the Kia Sportage and EV6 has been put in the Niro as well. It’s one of the best touchscreen systems we’ve come across, and looks remarkably smart in high-spec versions with two large screens. Entry-level models get a smaller media screen, but still with all the information and phone connectivity you expect. However, there’s a little too much glossy black trim, which scratches easily and shows up dust.

The trim levels match the sensibility of the car itself. They’re called ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’, with the higher the number equating to more standard equipment. Entry-level cars get alloy wheels, a reversing camera, digital radio, LED headlights, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. ‘3’ adds tinted glass, folding mirrors, auto wipers, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, front parking sensors, wireless phone charging and a bigger infotainment screen with sat nav. Top-spec cars also come with a sunroof, heated rear seats and ventilated front ones and a powered tailgate. Cars in the highest ‘4’ spec also let you choose a different-coloured C-pillar, but we think the ‘4’ is a little expensive; it almost overlaps with the cheapest EV6.

Practicality & boot space

The Niro EV’s boot is big, but not everyone will be able to get comfy in the rear seats

The Niro EV makes a great family SUV. In truth, it might be best if the back seats are reserved for children, because where the battery’s placed has pushed the floor upwards. Adults may find the high floor leaves them with their knees high up and their thighs not properly supported, which is likely to get uncomfortable on a long journey. There are no complaints in terms of space, though; both leg and headroom are good.

A 475-litre boot is not only more than you get in either of the hybrid models, but it’s more than you get in many of the car’s closest rivals. The Peugeot e-2008 trails by about 40 litres, the Volkswagen ID.3 comes in with 385 litres and even the MG 5 estate loses out to the Niro EV by a few litres. Drop the seats down and you get 1,392 litres of space (fractionally less than the e-2008 in this configuration). The Niro also offers a 20-litre front storage area under the bonnet, which could be handy for cable storage.

Reliability & safety

Kia owners seem very glad to have bought into the brand

Few manufacturers have managed such a comprehensively positive result in our annual Driver Power surveys as Kia did in 2022. As a brand, it came third out of 29 manufacturers, and six of the top 20 cars in our 75-strong list wear the Kia badge. That includes the last-generation Niro and e-Niro. Owners of the e-Niro love its driving experience, low running costs, reliability and build quality, so hopefully the new car will continue to impress buyers.

Both the Sportage and EV6 gained five stars in Euro NCAP’s newest and strictest crash tests. The new Niro EV boasts plenty of safety kit as standard, including hill-start assist, intelligent speed limit assist, lane-keeping guidance and adaptive cruise control, plus the usual assortment of ISOFIX points and airbags. Both ‘3’ and ‘4’ trim levels add additional safety features.

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