Which car would make an ideal first EV? Is it a Tesla Model 3, a vehicle that forces you to unlearn everything you knew about a car and driving in general and become an Elon Musk follower on Twitter to operate? A Nissan Leaf, a vehicle still stuck in the past with a CHADEMO connector and being quietly superseded by the mighty Ariya?
Your first EV should help you transition from an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) without making too many statements. Ideally, it should come from an automaker who is good at building traditional cars, pure EVs, including a transitionary first EV.
With strong sales in the UK and across the EU, Kia Niro is a best seller, and the new Kia Niro EV based on this platform, therefore, is a great EV that even outsells the EV6.
The 2022 model has more refinements to improve the sheer driving pleasure and provide good value for money for first time owners.
Let's get the bad news out of the way. The new Niro EV is priced at £2,100 higher than the outgoing model and now starts at £34,995 for the basic model "2".
The higher-end Model "4" costs over £41K OTR. For just £300 more, one could buy Kia EV6 Air 77.4 kWh, priced at £41,695. Kia has lost sight of its target customers while deciding the pricing.
The petrol version starts from just £27,745, so it is clear which particular model would sell well for them.
Battery and Performance Improvements
The 2021 Kia e-Niro came with a choice of two Li-ion polymer battery packs manufactured by SKI:
- short-range 39 kWh with 100 kW power weighing 317 kg
- long-range 64 kWh with 150 kW power weighing a whopping 457 kg
The new 2022 Kia Niro EV would only come with a 356V 69 kWh (64.8 kWh usable) High-cobalt battery pack manufactured by CATL. Such a battery pack should give the new Niro a slightly improved range of 287 miles up from the current 282 miles and a max power of 150 kW.
While the maximum power of the drive train at rpm has increased to 6,000 - 14,600 rpm (thanks to the EV6 motor), the instant torque has reduced to 255 Nm at 5600 rpm, which is still impressive. The 2019 model, in contrast, has a maximum torque of 395 Nm at 3,600 rpm and a maximum of 8,000 rpm.
The car could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 103.8 mph, and the braking distance from 62 to 0 is a good 41.75 meters. The power to weight ratio has also improved slightly.
While limited to just 72 kW, the DC charge speed should still perform well at 50 kW rapid public chargers such as Osprey Charging and InstaVolt, thanks to the long charge curve at a higher soc percentage.
Kia has also improved the drag co-efficient to a best-in-class 0.29 Cd from the current 0.3 Cd! While the battery pack is under the floor, there is still a ground clearance of around 15.7cm to avoid damage from potholes and road bumps.
Niro EV gains a respectable towing capacity of 750kg opening up the prospects for zero-emission adventures.
The interior of the Niro EV is made better with inspiration from the Kia EV6. Recycled sustainable materials are used for the seats, the headrest, and the roof with impeccable fit and finish.
Physical buttons with memory functions offer no-distraction driving and comfort for drivers and passengers. The rotary dial is a pleasure to use. The driving mode selector inspired by EV6 can be found as a button on the steering wheel and next to the gear selector.
Niro EV comes with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard, and there is even a highspeed wireless charger. Harmon/Kardon speaker package in this car makes everything sound better.
The flat floor on the back for front-wheel-drive cars is an improvement. The back seats offer a reclining capability (2-position recline). We could find a new 200W AC 220V socket at the rear to support charging the laptops on the move.
The new model comes with a Remote Parking feature. There is also a Heads-Up display option, although this might make the windscreen expensive to replace and best avoided.
Boot space & Frunk
An extra 7cm in length increases the boot space to 475-litre, an expansion of 25 litres. The new parcel shelves (optional on base trim) are manufactured using foldable lightweight recycled fabric and hence can be effortlessly removed and stored when not needed.
The frunk offers a 20-litre space to store the charger cables.
The front of the car now looks nicer though the rear could've been designed better.
The use of non-led headlamps in 2022 is quite unsettling.
EV6 competition or not
Kia has made a few decisions to avoid the Niro from cannibalising the sale of EV6.
- Heated steering wheels, Heat pump HVAC, and battery heaters (for navigation-based battery conditioning) are an optional extra on all trims.
- The c-pillar is coloured black only on the highest trim (Premium) and is an optional extra
- DC charging is limited to 72 kW maximum.
- No wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto despite having a wireless charger
- The silver-coloured panel is an optional extra feature (although it doesn't look great)
We wish the OTR price of the Kia Niro EV is at least £2,000 less with a starting price of £32,995 instead of £34,995. While not an EV6 competition, the new Kia Niro EV has enough improvements to make this your ideal first EV. Using recycled materials improves sustainability, although we would reduce some points for using high-cobalt battery chemistry. The first non-production car is now available at dealerships in the UK. You can reserve your place for a demo using the button below.