The Kia Niro EV is the most convincing electric proposition we've tested so far, with an impressive range, surprising performance, and a full set of features to boot.
One can generally categorise the electric vehicles we have reviewed so far into two distinct camps—those that feel like jumped-up electric golf carts, and those that actually feel like proper cars, with the added bonus of extra refinement and performance that electric drivetrains provide over the traditional internal combustion engine.
From the outset, we can happily report that Kia’s Niro EV falls squarely into the latter camp.
A Feature-Packed Car
Step into the cabin of the Niro EV and you're greeted with a sea of black. Fret not, however, as the sunroof in the Premium model that we tested still makes the cabin a bright and open space to be in.
Materials in the Niro EV aren't exactly luxurious, but the cabin feels solidly built, and there are nicely padded soft-touch trims at the major touchpoints.
The Niro EV also has a few quirks that remind you that you're in an EV—for example, a rotary gear shift knob is used instead of the traditional column shifter, which is integrated into the armrest as well.
Additionally, you also get a semi-digital meter cluster that is well laid out and provides crucial information like remaining range, power use and regenerative braking levels, and other drive information.
Other features include a 7-inch touchscreen display, heated and ventilated seats, wireless smartphone charging, rear aircon vents, auto headlights and wipers, and auto cruise control. Oh, did we also mention that the driver's seat is electric and comes with 2 memory settings?
Clearly, the Niro EV is a full-fat feature-packed car, and you'd surely feel like you've spent your money wisely every time you get to use these features on your drive.
When it comes to practicality, the Niro EV provides plenty of legroom for rear passengers, and the car is wide enough to accommodate three-abreast seating as well.
There are plenty of storage spaces, from the glove box to the centre console, and even an additional tray beneath the centre stack of the dash. At the back, the Niro EV is capable of carrying an impressive 451 litres of cargo.
Not just a Golf Kart
Remember how we mentioned that the Niro EV falls into the "not a golf kart" category of electric vehicles? Well, that's because the power delivery and dynamics of this electric SUV is properly well-sorted.
The ride quality is supple, providing good damping from road imperfections. Although this is good for the Niro EV's purpose as a family SUV, it does cause the Niro to pitch rather significantly when you put the pedal to the metal and unleash all of the electric motor's 201bhp and 395nm of instantaneous electric torque.
Take our word for it—the way the Niro EV accelerates when you put it into Sport mode is simply stunning. Whereas the Niro EV gives you a smooth and comfortable ride in Normal mode, the throttle response is markedly more sensitive in Sport, and the steering tightens up as well.
0-100km/h is over in just 7.8 seconds, easily leaving most cars on the road in the Niro EV's wake of dust.
More crucially, the fact that this is an electric car means that maximum torque is available from 0 rpm, allowing you to execute overtaking manoeuvres effortlessly, regardless of what speed you're at.
In fact, we'd venture so far to say that the pushed-back-in-your-seat feeling provided by the Niro's electric drivetrain rivals even some of the sports cars we've driven.
Of course, you shouldn't expect sports car levels of handling in the Niro EV, especially since it is running eco tyres, but you do get the feeling that the Niro EV has a properly sorted chassis.
Despite the soft suspension giving you some body roll, this electric SUV actually manages to corner with precision, although it does predictably start to understeer once you push it too hard.
The Big Electric 'But'
So we've established that the Niro EV is chock-full of features, is a comfortable enough place to be in, and is actually pretty fun to drive. But there's probably one last thing that may be holding you back from taking the leap to buy one—it's an EV.
If you buy the Niro EV, you'd be a pioneer in the electric car revolution, and let's be honest, while pervasive electric charging infrastructure is still being established in Singapore, range may be a legitimate concern for you.
Considering that most HDB-dwellers may not always have access to an electric charge point, can the Niro EV really be a viable option?
Here's the bombshell: the Niro EV has a claimed range of 455km for each complete charge, putting it on par with petrol cars that accelerate as quickly as the Niro EV.
This means that the Niro can last two to three days on each charge, and furthermore, it can be charged from 0% to 80% in just 54 minutes with a 100kW fast charger.
The Kia Niro EV is genuinely a properly sorted package—from the interior and features to the way the car rides and performs. Furthermore, it even has a good enough range to be properly used daily without giving the driver range anxiety.
If you're looking for an electric vehicle that has got all the bases covered, the Niro EV is a car that you can safely shortlist.
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Engine: Synchronous Motor with Permanent Magnets
Power: 201bhp @ 3,800 - 8,000rpm
Torque: 395Nm @ 0 - 3,600rpm
Electrical Energy Consumption: 147Wh/km
Top Speed: 167km/h
Drivetrain: Single-Speed Reduction Gear Automatic; Front-Wheel Drive
Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front), Disc Brakes (Rear)
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,375mm x 1,805mm x 1,570mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: NIL
Boot Capacity: 451l
Auto Cruise Control
Park Distance Warning
Blind Spot Monitoring System
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
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