2020 KIA NIRO ELECTRIC

Kia is very serious about looking after the future of our planet and has many electric or partially electric vehicles on sale in Australia.

The latest is the Niro, a small-medium SUV that’s offered as an all-electric, a petrol/electric hybrid or a plug-in hybrid. Our test vehicle this week is the full electric model, others are scheduled to be reviewed by our team in upcoming weeks.

The full electric models can be very expensive but the NSW government recently announced that it will abolish stamp duty on electric vehicles and offer drivers a $3000 rebate and free stamp duty to increase uptake.

Interestingly the NSW Government also said that owners will be charged a per-kilometre usage fee, but not until 2027. Fair enough as part of the price of petrol and diesel fuels is used to maintain roads.

Hopefully the other Australian states will soon follow this lead.

STYLING
The shape of the Niro is a cross between a tall hatchback and a medium SUV. The EV can be easily distinguished by the blue details front and rear. As well as by the fact it doesn’t have a radiator grille.

However, the area that would be occupied by a grille in non-electric variants has a dummy grille with lots of indentations. The left side of this ‘grille’ opens to reveal charging inlets. Can’t say it looks right to us, but you may have another opinion.

INTERIOR
The dashboard is conventional in its shape and style, it’s very much upmarket in its use of materials and could easily be mistaken as being from a prestige European or British model.

There’s good space for two in the front, though the under-floor battery does steal some vertical height. Try before you buy if you’re on the gangly side. There’s good width for three in the rear, though as usual the person in the centre should ideally be slimmer than average, there’s a little loss of foot space in the centre rear, but we have seen a lot worse.

The boot is well shaped and is deeper in the Niro EV than the others in the range because the battery pack is under the passenger compartment floor.

INFOTAINMENT
There’s a 10.25-inch touchscreen on the model we tested. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. Our vehicle had a JBL Premium sound and we loved the depth of sound it presented.

POWERTRAIN
The 64kWh Niro EV uses a permanent magnetic electric motor that puts out 150kW of power and 395Nm torque, the latter is there from one rpm upwards. It drives the front wheels

At this stage Kia is only bringing the larger and most expensive 64kWh battery Niro EV model to Australia. It will give about 450km driving range on a single charge.

Kia says it may import lower-cost, shorter-range models if its research finds buyers may be interested in them.

All Kia dealerships in Australia have battery chargers. Charging options including commercial networks like Chargefox and Evie Networks, as well as motoring associations’ chargers.

Charging at the DC rate of 100kW will recharge the Niro EV in under an hour using a Type2 plug. Charging at home or on a destination charger at a top rate of 7.2kW will take the battery from close to zero to almost 100 per cent in about 10 hours.

SAFETY
There’s are airbags to help cushion you and the others in the car from the shocks of a crash. All of the normal crash avoidance items do their best to avoid a crash, or minimise the severity of the crash if one become inevitable.

The Lane Following Assist works with the Smart Cruise Control system to help the vehicle remain in the centre of the lane by continuously correcting the course of the vehicle when it is activated. As a driver I prefer to trim the corners rather than have the car preventing me from doing so.

DRIVING
Due to problems caused by Covid-19, Kia Australia was unable to perform local suspension tuning, this may take place later. Hopefully it will and the later Niros can be set of our Aussie tastes.

In the meantime, it feels fine for normal day to day drivers who aren’t interested in thrashing it along winding country roads.

The steering feedback isn’t particularly good but see the previous note about not being a car for those looking for a sporty drive.

It has three drive modes; Eco, Normal and Sport. We spent most of our time in Normal where it felt as though it had all the performance we really needed.

Drivers have a choice between three levels of regenerative braking. There’s the option of “one-pedal driving” by using the paddle behind the steering wheel to engage it.

The paddles can be used to increase or decrease energy recuperation. A long hold on the right paddle makes things simpler for the driver – the Niro scans the traffic ahead of and around the car and chooses what it thinks is the appropriate level.

SUMMING UP
Kia’s first electric car is right up with the others in the same class. There’s little doubt the engineers drove potential competitors’ EVs to equal, or preferably beat them. They have succeeded and we look forward to the next generation.

The Niro’s price is very high, but similar to others in this field. If you want a pure electric but can’t afford a Niro there are petrol, hybrids and plugin hybrids to choose from.

All Niro models have Kia’s impressive seven-year unlimited distance warranty. However, the EV’s motor and battery are covered by a seven-year or 150,000km warranty.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Niro Hybrid S: $39,990
Niro Hybrid Sport: $43,890
Niro PHEV S: $46,590
Niro PHEV Sport: $50,490
Niro EV S: $62,590
Niro EV Sport: $65,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Niro EV S electric five-door wagon)

PERFORMANCE:
Capacity: NA
Configuration: NA
Maximum Power: 150 kW
Maximum Torque: 395 Nm
Fuel Type: NA
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): NA
CO2 Emissions: Zero

DRIVELINE: NA

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4375 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1805 mm
Height: 1570 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1791 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: NA

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated Disc
Rear: Solid Disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Seven years / unlimited kilometres

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