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Review: 2022 Kia Niro EV

​​The second-generation Kia Niro is a far cry from its predecessor with a stylish exterior update worthy to compete with the best in looks amongst its urban-cruising counterparts.

While the Niro is available in both pure EV and hybrid powertrains, the vehicle reviewed for this article is the EV version in the higher-spec GT-Line trim.

InitialImpression

The updated styling on the MY23 Kia Niro EV is seriously eye-catching and bound to turn some heads. It features a full-width, slimline grill flanked by sharp, angular headlights featuring a set of very cool daytime running lights. The interior is stylish and modern with comfortable seats and plenty of driver and safety tech included.

Driveability

The new Niro EV features three driving modes – Eco, Normal and Sport. For daily commuting, we found ourselves sticking to Eco mode however we couldn’t resist flicking it into Sport mode here and there to get that awesome EV-powered kick. This kick is provided by a strong 150kW of power and 255Nm of torque coming from its synchronous permanent magnet motor. Although this type of electric motor is generally more expensive to manufacture, it has a much higher power efficiency with lower cooling needs than other typical EV motors. The motor is also what helps produce a whisper-quiet ride and combined with comfortable suspension, it is particularly comfortable to drive.

The range of the Niro EV was quite impressive – which Kia claims is 460 kilometres – however, we noticed it took a while to recharge on the standard charging cable that is supplied with the car. If you were to purchase a Niro EV it would be worth also getting one of the fast-charging outlets installed in your house.

Like the entry-level variant that we tested for the Hybrid model review, we were granted a remarkably comprehensive range of Kia’s active safety features. The Advanced Smart Cruise Control system will keep you at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you regardless of their speed changes while the Intelligent Speed Limit Assist can read road signs to determine the appropriate speed limit and request your confirmation to update your cruising speed. The Lane Following Assist was also quite lively when activated. Not only did it ensure that we remained in our lane but, it also prompted us to stay alert when it couldn’t detect any steering inputs. We found the blindspot monitoring system to be quite responsive and may annoy some people with its alerts. We’re happy to forgive this though as safety should always be at the forefront of vehicle design.

On top of these safety features, the Niro EV also has a high-quality reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, however, the stand-out parking feature would have to be the remote parking assist. It was an interesting experience having the ability to control the car without sitting in the driver’s seat and we can’t deny that we felt a bit like kids again playing with a remote-controlled car.

Liveability

Stepping inside the Niro EV, you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that it competes in the compact SUV segment with how spacious it is on the interior. In the GT-Line, you’ll find eco-friendly bio-synthetic leather seats made from eucalyptus tree fibres that effuse a surprising lux quality. The front seats in the GT-Line feature both heating and cooling options, the latter of which is a brilliant, refreshing feature on our hot summer days.

Your kids will love the USB-C charging ports integrated into the rear of the front seats that are sure to experience significant use on long road trips as the kids will no longer have to relegate their devices to the standard dashboard charging port.

There’s also significant space in the rear seats with ample legroom available without compromising on boot space, which is accessible via the powered tailgate and is still large enough for a few decent size suitcases.

The centre dashboard control panel has been simplified to a single touch panel that controls both climate controls and media controls. However, we like that Kia hasn’t tried to squeeze all the functions on one panel, rather, they’ve tidied it up with air-conditioning and media controls sharing a touch panel switch between the two at the touch of a button.

The digital drive cluster and infotainment screens have been encased in a sweeping element across the dashboard which is a super classy look reflective of Kia’s overall enhancement in the aesthetics department in recent years. We can’t say the same for the base model as Kia has opted for a plain grey plastic panel that leaves a little to be desired.

The GT-Line model has a convenient wireless charging module which we think is a must-have for any new car these days although it would have been great to see it on the S variant as well. It’s also a bit annoying that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are only available in the wired option for the GT-Line when the base model gets the wireless version.

The liveability feature we loved the most was the Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) system. You can now charge compatible appliances and devices directly from your EV’s battery with greater versatility than your standard 12V outlet found in internal combustion engine vehicles.

Cost

Like many pure EVs go these days, the price for the Niro EV is on the higher end of most people’s budgets.

Including on-road costs, you can get an entry-level Kia Niro EV S from Motorama Kia for $69,332.85 while the top-of-the-range GT-Line will set you back $76,268.85. Due to the differences in the interior trim of each model, we’d recommend opting for the higher spec model as there’s a good chance you’ll be underwhelmed with the plain interior of the S after dropping almost $70k for the car.

Conclusion

If you had your eye on the previous generation of Kia Niro but didn’t pull the trigger, you may be more inclined to do so with its successor. Regardless of the variant you choose, the new Niro EV comes jam-packed with safety and driver assist features while the sleek upgraded exterior means it receives a few extra style points over most of its competition.

The quiet and comfortable ride offers a note of luxury while providing impressive space for all your passengers. If the price doesn’t hold it back, we foresee a bright future for this car that’s yet to make an impact on the Australian market.

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