2022 Kia Niro EV Sport

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THE KIA Niro is a small SUV that’s about the same size as its Seltos sibling, but additionally available in petrol-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid or battery-electric guises. The five-seat family SUV is offered in two trim grades per engine type – S or Sport – for a total of six variants all told.

The Niro range starts at $39,990 (plus-on road costs) for the Hybrid S through to an eye-watering $65,990 (+ORCs) for the top-of-the-range Niro EV Sport tested here.

We say eye-watering because, as good as it is, the BEV version of the Niro is more than double the price of an equivalent petrol-powered Seltos Sport ($32,790, plus on-road costs). Even if you are a staunch environmentalist, that premium equates to many tanks of petrol – enough to drive the Seltos 519,652km based on current petrol prices – or to the moon and most of the way back.

But we digress… Kia isn’t on its Pat Malone in charging more for the relatively new and, therefore, expensive technology employed in its EV variants. We are, by no means, singling the brand out.

The front-wheel-drive Niro EV twins share their drivetrain with Kia’s sister company Hyundai’s Kona EV. Battery capacity is rated to 64kWh with peak power and torque listed at a healthy 150kW and 395Nm respectively. When using a 100kW DC fast charger, the Niro EV Sport’s battery can be charged up from fully depleted to 80 per cent charge in around 54 minutes. When hooked up to or a domestic power outlet that window increases to all of 29 hours, however.  

Kia quotes a WLTP range of 455km for its Niro EV, which is 29km less than the slightly smaller – and marginally lighter – Kona. On test, we averaged 15.2kWh per 100km, which equates to a driving range of approximately 421km.

But what it lacks in range (compared with the Kona EV), the Niro makes up for in space. Cabin accommodation, especially in the back seat, is appreciably more generous than the twin-under-the-skin Kona, while luggage capacity also romps ahead with 451 litres over the Kona’s 332 litres. 

Equipment levels see inclusions such as regenerative braking, keyless entry, leather-accented seats with eight-way power adjustment for the driver, a leather-bound multifunction steering wheel, automatic LED headlights, as well as LED daytime running- and tail-lights.

Infotainment comes courtesy of a 10.25-inch touchscreen with wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, multi-connection Bluetooth, digital radio, native sat nav, a reversing camera, plus an eight speaker DBL audio system.

The Niro EV Sport also offers a choice of four drive modes (Normal, Eco, Eco+ and Sport), paddle shifters for the adjustable regenerative braking system, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror, metallic-finish pedals, single-zone climate control and 18-inch alloys wrapped in Michelin rubber.

Safety kit is, likewise, well sorted and, might we add, wonderfully well calibrated. The Niro range includes, as standard, seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking with car-, pedestrian- and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, lane-follow assist, smart cruise control and driver-attention alert with the Sport grade adding blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert.

Service intervals are set at 12 months or 15,000km and capped-price servicing is available. Maintenance pricing tallies $1164 over three-, $1728 over five-, and $2803 over seven years. All Niro EVs are covered by Kia’s seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, but the batteries and motors are only covered up to 150,000km (guess you’re not taking that trip to the moon, eh?).

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