The previous-gen Niro lived a brief life in Australia, however the small electrical SUV confirmed promise. The brand new automotive’s experience high quality, refinement and visible attraction have elevated massively
- Experience and dealing with a lot improved
- Higher cabin refinement
- Refined feeling powertrain
- Rather more fashionable design
- GT-Line EV not far off EV6
- DC charging restricted to round 100kW
- Much less torque than earlier than
- Know-how wow-factor doesn’t match Tesla
Kia is gearing up for an electrical car offensive over the subsequent decade, kicking off with 14 all-new electrical fashions on devoted EV platforms – so the place does the brand new Niro, a hybrid and fully-electric small SUV based mostly on a petrol-car structure, slot in?
Effectively, in accordance with Kia, the worldwide demand for the Niro stays sturdy – a lot in order that in its ultimate gross sales yr, the Niro completed second behind the Tesla Mannequin 3 in UK gross sales charts. That’s not the case in Australia, however the ‘DE’ Niro arrived right here three years after its world launch with out the model’s bespoke suspension and steering tune for our market.
The closely revised new Niro is a much bigger automotive: 65mm longer, 20mm wider and 10mm increased, and it now packs a correct Australian chassis tune, too.. It additionally seems higher, selecting up design cues from Kia’s Sportage midsize SUV and its ‘opposites unite’ design philosophy… and maybe Audi’s R8 facet blades.
This time round, Kia has chosen to not provide the plug-in hybrid Niro in Australia (although it’s homologated for our market, so that might change). The dear however long-range electrical model returns with the promise of 460km of zero-emission driving – one kilometre greater than within the outdated Niro EV.
Kia additionally gives a self-charging hybrid powertrain ($44,380 earlier than on-road prices) that will compete instantly with the Toyota C-HR hybrid. In earlier ‘DE’ Niro guise, the gross sales cut up confirmed personal consumers have been most enamoured with the range-topping EV with the bottom hybrid well-liked with fleet operators.
There may be, after all, an EV6-sized elephant within the room. Whereas the hybrids are moderately attractively priced, the fully-electric Niro fashions are pricey. The brand new Niro GT-Line EV begins at $72,100 earlier than on-road prices in Australia, making it solely $7490 cheaper than a RWD EV6 GT-Line (now $79,590 earlier than on-road prices after a latest value bump).
Kia Australia says will probably be in a position to provide round 75 Niros every month, and it expects sellers will carry some inventory – a shock in tightly-constrained 2022. So subsequent to an EV6 – which you’ll have to face in line patiently for about two years to get your fingers on – is it value contemplating a Niro electrical just like the GT-Line we spent the lion’s share of time in on the automotive’s Australian launch?
How does the Niro Electrical GT-Line drive?
It’s uncommon for any car with a carryover powertrain to immediately lose greater than a 3rd of the torque within the outdated motor. It’s much more uncommon for us to reward such a transfer – and but, each have occurred right here.
Like its cousin, the Hyundai Kona Electrical, the outdated Kia Niro EV produced stout outputs of 150kW of energy and 395Nm of torque. The latter determine excited tyres off the road and will even spin the wheels accelerating from 60km/h within the moist.
Now, the Niro Electrical makes a bit extra energy at 155kW, however 140Nm much less torque. And the 255Nm now on faucet for the entrance wheels – no AWD model is obtainable – appears distinctly extra applicable. Kia says the torque discount was achieved within the title of driveability and that has labored.
The outdated Niro was a little bit of a wild experience with torque steer and scrabbly acceleration beneath full throttle. The brand new automotive’s quantity of grunt feels higher matched to the entrance 215/55 R17 Continental EcoContact 6 tyres, whereas managing a good 0-100km/h dash of seven.8 seconds.
Extra goodness is present in corners, the place Kia’s Australian suspension tuning retains this 1772kg SUV planted by means of the bends. It isn’t inspiring or thrilling, however the Niro is a confidence-inspiring and fairly gifted household automotive on a again street.
The steering is kind of spectacular. It builds weight naturally by means of corners, and although the electrical automotive’s rack is slightly slower than the hybrid’s, it matches the Niro’s dynamics nicely. It’s actually higher than the EV6’s claggy steering response, even when the Niro’s front-drive format makes it the much less dynamic general.
Cornering wasn’t a weak spot for the outdated Niro, however experience consolation was. Now, the Aussie-tune has actually improved is the Niro’s low-speed experience which was common at greatest earlier than. Each the EV and hybrid mannequin’s ZF Sachs dampers spherical out bumps and cushion blows from pace humps with out extra physique motion.
Good visibility additionally aids the Niro’s ease-of-use round city with much less compromising blind spots than a extra fastback-style small SUV such because the Toyota C-HR. There may be now an auto-regen program that makes use of the entrance radar sensor to robotically alter the extent of regen in site visitors that works nicely. There are additionally 5 selectable regen ranges, in addition to ‘i-Pedal’ for close to seamless one-pedal driving.
The extent of security has been improved too – although the Niro is but to be evaluated by ANCAP – beginning with the stiffer physique shell that makes use of extra hot-stamped sections for rigidity. Throughout the Niro vary, the entrance AEB now has junction detection functionality, there’s additionally reverse AEB and blind-spot monitoring with collision mitigation. A well-tuned adaptive cruise management and lane-centring help make cruising freeways within the SG2 Niro straightforward.
How is the Niro Electrical GT-Line’s inside?
Enhancements in driving dynamics are one factor, however the brand new Niro’s closely upgraded ‘K3’ platform has given this SUV a flavour inside that was sorely missing within the nameless DE Niro.
The star of the cabin are two 10.25-inch screens built-in right into a curved piece of glass nestled into the sprint. The infotainment system might not have the customisability or wow-factor of a Tesla Mannequin Y’s all-encompassing touchscreen or a Polestar 2’s Android system, however it’s easy to work together with and gives wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Kia has chosen the Niro as the primary mannequin to showcase its linked expertise. A cellphone app can be utilized to manage lights, pre-heat or cool the cabin, unlock the automotive from a distance, set off a horn and lightweight present in addition to ship areas to the onboard nav. Over-the-air software program updates aren’t built-in but, however will are available a future improve.
There was a concentrate on bettering cabin supplies too, and the GT-Line’s faux-leather upholstery feels nicer than the final automotive. The electrically-adjustable entrance seats rating three-stage heating and cooling, and the funky two-spoke steering wheel (lifted straight from the EV6) is heated.
Two deployable cup holders sit beneath a snug central armrest and niceties reminiscent of a Qi wi-fi charging pad, USB-A and USB-C ports, bottle holders within the doorways and ambient lighting end off the Niro’s dramatic cabin.
The rear quarters of the Niro are beneficiant for its exterior dimensions with good house for me behind my driving place even at 188cm. Solely the excessive, flat flooring and laborious door tops compromised consolation considerably. There’s a fold-down armrest and adjustable air vents, three-pin socket and the backs of the comfy entrance seats double as coat holders.
There’s a whole of 475 litres of bags house behind the seats with an extra 20L entrance boot. Below the boot flooring is additional storage for charging cables, the intelligent vehicle-to-load adapter that will help you run a espresso machine, lighting for images or cost private units reminiscent of a laptop computer
What are the Niro Electrical GT-Line’s working prices?
One of many oddities of the DE Niro was its costly service prices. The brand new automotive retains 12 month/15,000km service intervals which might be inconveniently brief for an electrical car, however the value is now $1754 for a seven-year service pack – 40 % decrease than the outdated automotive.
This compares extra favourably to rivals, although Polestar and Volvo’s three years of free servicing nonetheless looks as if a sharper deal.
Kia’s seven yr/limitless kilometre guarantee applies to the Niro EV and hybrid, although the high-voltage electrics are coated by the model’s world seven yr/150,000km guarantee.
Because it doesn’t use the E-GMP platform, the Niro can’t match the EV6’s wonderful 350kW theoretical most charging pace. As an alternative, the Niro’s older platform and battery structure can solely take about 100kW DC, which means it would take 45 minutes to cost from 10-80 % on a 350kW charger.
Charging from 0-100% utilizing a three-phase 11kW charger ought to take round six and a half hours. With all that electrical energy within the 64.8kWh usable battery, Kia claims the Niro has a spread of 463km (WLTP) that depends on a 14kWh/100km car consumption determine.
Throughout our loop within the Adelaide Hills, the electrical Niro averaged 18kWh/100km for a projected vary of 361km. A future run again on the Chasing Automobiles Sydney check loop ought to give a greater indication on the Niro’s real-world effectivity.
The ultimate verdict
The Kia Niro is so much higher wanting than earlier than, and its Australia-honed experience and dealing with reveals what Kia can do when given the time and sources Covid lockdowns didn’t enable.
The Niro hybrid can be value contemplating, as the inside’s glorious packaging makes it a extra sensible various than a Toyota C-HR or Honda HR-V hybrid.
With an electrical powertrain that’s comparatively environment friendly in the actual world the Niro EV is a lovely proposition, too, although its value proximity to the EV6, Polestar 2 and Tesla Mannequin 3 makes it laborious to sing the Niro electrical’s praises.
After all, extra of the Niro’s closest rivals might spike in value shortly – and for a begin none of them are as available because the Niro guarantees to be – however till that occurs, the Niro stays a sweet-driving small SUV that’s value is maybe slightly forward of its time.