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First drive: 2022 Kia Niro. Image by Kia.

First drive: 2022 Kia Niro
The new Niro has arrived, complete with a bold new look and a change of naming conventions, but is that enough to keep it at the top of the tree?

   



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2022 Kia Niro

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The Niro is one of Kia's numerous success stories. Sitting between the little Stonic and the surprisingly large Sportage in the SUV line-up, the family car appealed with its combination of impressive space and compact footprint, as well as the selection of eco-friendly powertrains. The latest model looks like a completely new car, but it simply builds on its predecessor's successful recipe. Under the all-new skin, the changes are subtle, but did the Niro need any more fettling? We tested the new Niro EV (formerly known as the e-Niro) to find out.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Kia Niro EV '4'
Price: From £40,980
Motor: 150kW electric motor
Battery: 64.8kWh lithium-ion battery
Transmission: single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 204hp
Torque: 255Nm
Emissions: 0g/km
Range: 286 miles
0-62mph: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 104mph
Boot space: 475 litres (plus 20-litre 'frunk')

Styling

Itís immediately apparent that the Niro has been updated thanks to its futuristic new look, complete with side blades on the flanks. These can be specified in a contrasting colour, but even when the Niro is all in one hue it looks good, particularly with those smart new headlights. The front end design differs depending on which version you choose, though, and thatís bad news for the Niro EV (formerly known as the e-Niro) weíre testing here. The front-mounted charging connector flap gives it the look of a small dog with its tongue hanging out Ė especially in cars with light paint jobs that show the shut lines.

Interior

The new Niro's cabin borrows heavily from the new EV6 electric hatchback, with all models getting a two-screen dashboard and a centre console with a rotary gear selector. The two screens are clear and easy to read, although they aren't necessarily the most modern displays on the market. But they're good enough, and they work perfectly, which is more than can be said for some other brands' efforts.

Similar praise can be given to the build quality, which is largely very good, although one or two so-so plastics let the side down slightly. Everything feels very solid and well made; it's just the occasional crummy piece of trim that spoils the effect somewhat. Again, though, it's better than most manufacturers' efforts, and because it's a Kia, you know it'll stand the test of time.

Practicality

The Niro's practicality depends largely on which version you choose. All three powertrains provide plenty of cabin space, with lots of room in the front and ample rear legroom, as well as adequate headroom for even the tallest passengers. But those who want the plug-in hybrid system sacrifice boot space, thanks to the battery beneath the boot floor. That means while the 'standard' Niro hybrid has a 451-litre load bay, the plug-in hybrid car has just 348 litres of luggage space. The electric model is the most capacious, though, with the battery positioned under the floor to free up a 475-litre boot and a 20-litre 'frunk' for storing charging cables under the bonnet.

Performance

As with the old Niro, customers face a choice of different powertrains. The cheapest option is the hybrid Niro HEV, which comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, an electric motor and a small battery, allowing the motor to drive the wheels at low speeds or to help out the petrol engine when necessary. With 141hp, it's a bit sluggish and it makes a horrible noise when you stamp on the accelerator, but the system is fairly efficient and refined if you have a gentle right foot.

Further up the range is the plug-in hybrid, the Niro PHEV, which has a larger motor and a rechargeable battery, giving it a combined output of 183hp and the ability to cover around 40 miles at a range of speeds without using the petrol engine. In essence, you can use it as an electric car on short journeys and a petrol car on longer trips. Of course, it's best for those who can charge regularly, but it promises low emissions for company car drivers and low fuel consumption for those the powertrain will suit.

Finally, the range is topped by the all-electric Niro EV, which was formerly known as the e-Niro. That car comes with a 204hp electric motor and a 64.8kWh battery, giving it a range of 286 miles on a single charge. It's the most refined option, the fastest and the cheapest to run, but it won't suit those who can't charge at home or who do lots of long journeys.

Ride & Handling

The way the Niro drives is somewhat dependent on the powertrain you choose. The standard Niro HEV is the slowest choice, and it also has the most compromised ride, with suspension that never settles down on broken surfaces, leaving you with the distinct and disconcerting impression that there's a shortage of grip. The Niro PHEV is more settled, but the Niro EV is the most comfortable option, feeling stable and composed at any speed, even though the weight of the battery does occasionally show when you encounter a severe pothole at around 30mph.

No version of the Niro is especially sporty, but light steering comes into its own around town and the Niro EV is particularly good at reducing body roll in corners. Even so, the Niro is focused on refinement and comfort. We've already covered the latter subject, but the former is another aspect that depends on the model chosen. The EV is great apart from a bit of wind and road noise, while the HEV gets very noisy when you accelerate. The same is true of the PHEV, but to a lesser extent.

Value

The new Niro range starts at a very reasonable £27,745 for the basic Hybrid model, while the Plug-In Hybrid comes in at £32,775 and the electric version costs £36,245. That makes it about the same price as a Hyundai Kona Electric with the same battery-and-motor combination. Even basic '2' versions come with 17-inch alloy wheels and a digital instrument display, as well as rear parking sensors and a touchscreen with the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration technology.

Verdict

The revamped Niro is an improvement on its predecessor in every way, but it's only an evolution of what's gone before. The electric model remains a great family EV, and one we're all too happy to recommend, despite the silly tongue thing on the bumper. But if you've just taken delivery of the old e-Niro (or indeed a Niro Hybrid or Plug-In Hybrid), fear not. The difference between your car and this is marginal.



James Fossdyke - 12 Jul 2022



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2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.

2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.2022 Kia Niro EV. Image by Kia.







 

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