From £25,7158
Electric crossover is comprehensively updated to cope with fierce new competition

What is it?

The pure-electric Kia e-Niro, now rebranded the Kia Niro EV, was always the strongest of Kia’s popular mid-sized crossover range. The best to drive, and the most recommendable version of the Niro, itself a strong contender in an overwhelming kaleidoscope of sports-hatch-cross-utility things in this circa £30k-£40k price range. 

Has any of that changed with this new pure-electric Niro? In short, no. Despite this being a new platform, and comprehensively updated inside and out, the Niro EV still feels evolutionary rather than revolutionary. No bad thing, given that the e-Niro was one of the best-selling EVs in the UK right up until it was withdrawn from sale earlier this year.

The powertrain has been carried over, so you get the same 64.8kWh lithium ion battery and 201bhp electric motor that drives the front wheels, although torque has actually been wound down (from 291lb ft in the outgoing e-Niro) to 188lb ft, to iron out the traction issues that it was prone to. 

Charging still peaks at 76kW, meaning that you’ll get a 10-80% charge in around 40 minutes if you plug into a CCS-compatible rapid charger offering rates of 100kW or more. A full charge from a standard 7kW home charger will take under 10 hours. 

We sampled the Niro EV on a route around Frankfurt, in mid-spec 3 trim and on its standard 17in wheels, which is the wheel size of choice given that – together with well-damped suspension – they do a good job of sponging over scruffy town roads. Sure, there’s a fair amount of body roll in faster corners or direction changes, but it’s progressive and never jarring, and the front end still turns in with enough incisiveness if you want it to. The steering is virtually devoid of a sense of connection or feedback and feels rather sterile generally, but it is light and predictable, which makes it ideal for wheeling about town or navigating awkward car parks. 

Ultimately, the Niro EV is not an involving or notably fun car to drive, even in Sport mode, which weights up the steering but does nothing to resolve how disconnected it feels. It does, however, hit a very happy middle ground between comfort, response, refinement and confidence, which will be exactly what any Niro EV buyer is after. 

The rest of the Niro EV package is similarly on point for its target audience. Practicality has improved over the predecessor, so you now get more generous rear passenger leg and head room – enough to easily accommodate two lanky adults in the back. The boot in the EV is the best in the Niro range, at 475 litres, and is big enough even for a chunky double buggy. It’s still a way off the luggage space that you get in the bigger Skoda Enyaq iV, but it’ll be more than enough for the average family motorist, and there’s also now a cubby in the nose of the car that’s ideal for storing charging cables. 

Up front, the Niro now gets an EV6-inspired dashboard, complete with twin 12.3in screens on mid-spec 3 models and up. (Lower-spec cars get an 8.0in central touchscreen). Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, although it’s mildly annoying that you don’t get the wireless connection that many rivals offer. Otherwise, it’s one of the best systems for graphic clarity and logical menu layouts. Sure, we find the rotary and touchscreen control combination of the BMW i3 more convenient, but the Kia’s is still one of the best interfaces. 

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Given that even the base Niro 2 gets adaptive cruise, climate control, a reversing camera and alloy wheels, it’s safe to say that the Niro is well equipped. It’ll be mid-spec 3 and up that most buyers go for, though, because this brings the bigger touchscreen and alloy wheels, heated seats, front parking sensors, upgraded upholstery and the option of a heat pump – a £900 option that’s worth going for if you value a decent real-world touring range in winter conditions. Top-spec 4 brings a sunroof, leatherette upholstery and more. 

There’s a big ‘but’ coming here, though: the Niro has crept up in price and is now perilously close to £40k if you want a Niro EV 3 with heat pump, which is likely to be one of the most popular trims. Even PCP monthly payments are expected to range from £500-£600, depending on trim, and assuming a 10% deposit. That means that you can save over £5000 by settling for a top-spec MG ZS EV, or you could sacrifice a bit of equipment and go for the longer-range Skoda Enyaq iV, or even a Hyundai Ioniq 5.     

Overall, then, the Niro EV is a great blend of compact size, decent driving range (we’d expect to get over 250 miles to a charge in summer pottering, or more like 200 miles in winter with a bit of motorway mileage), comfy road manners, and a smart, tech-filled, spacious interior. 

There’s not a shadow of doubt, then, that the Niro EV is one of the best and most recommendable EVs out there, especially in its more affordable 2 and 3 trims. Yet prices and competition have changed. Great as it is, the Kia is no longer the default answer to the decent value, long-range family EV question.

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gavsmit 11 July 2022

The FROM price still needs correcting at the top of these stories, this one being over £14,000 short! Anyone would think that car magazines are making stuff up to promote insanely expensive and compromised EVs.

As Paul has said in his comment, the new car market is going to collapse with car prices and finance payments now obscenely high, especially with a cost of living crisis starting to bite and when people's other mortgage (i.e. on their house) is going up with interest rate rises.

It'll all end in tears but not mine as I'll be keeping my current car for a lot longer until I have to modify it into a Mad Max machine for the Chinese/Russian-backed apocalypse and assisted by the mainstream media who, amongst other things, like to promote EVs.

Paul Dalgarno 11 July 2022

£500 to £600 per month! That's with a 10% deposit of £4k, and probably 8k miles per anum.  I just costed replacing my Model 3, went from £520 a month and £1500 deposit to £2k deposit and £720 a month in 2 years (38%). Won't be happening. Considering 80 odd percent of cars are bought this way - the new car market is going to collapse with these prices. That's way too much per month to spend on a "normal" car. New car market will collapse as PCP deals come to an end - two to three years tops, or we'll all downgrade and be resentful of such high rises. It's not just Tesla, it's not just BEVs, they're all at it.  

Autocar, you can't shoot the golden goose of advertising, but how about an article on PCP inflation?

Bob Cholmondeley 11 July 2022

We need to get away from stupid SUVs and crossovers. The Lightyear 0 shows the direction we need to go in, low, light and slippery.