The 2021 Kia Niro EV shows the way forward for fully electric motoring with a battery range that’s on par with a typical petrol-powered car. That, however, is just the beginning of what makes it a genuine everyday proposition.
If its stock prices are anything to go by, many think that Tesla will rule the Electric Vehicle (EV) market in the time to come. However, I’d humbly suggest that Korean carmakers such as Hyundai and Kia are probably going to dominate in the same way that Japanese brands proliferated in every corner of the Earth with their affordable and reliable cars since the 1970s.
the real game-changer.
The case in point is the Kia Niro EV driven here. It has been sold locally since 2019, but it still holds up against newer competitors. In terms of bang for buck, you’d be hard-pressed to find another EV that is capable of 455km on a full charge at this price point.
Put into context, a range of over 450km puts it on par with most petrol-powered cars. So any concerns about batteries running out can be put to rest. The star of the show here is a 64kW battery. A Nissan Leaf that currently sells from $146,800 for example, has a 40kW battery.
The flipside of of an EV with a big battery is that if you plan on making full use of its range, then prepare to spend more time charging. Kia claims that the Niro EV needs just an hour to charge its battery up to 80%. In fact, many other EV makers will use the magic 80% level when they claim their charging speeds.
Why not 100%?
EV charging explained.
The reality about rechargeable batteries is that they take a long time to complete that last 20% if at all. Some manufacturers recommend setting a 90-95% limit because they claim it’s better for the battery. A bit like not eating until you’re too full perhaps?
Anyway, the best analogy I have heard to explain why batteries take longer to charge from 80% to 100% than they do from 0 to 80% goes like this: Imagine the battery as a theatre. When it’s empty, the first people to enter can find their seats quickly. When it fills up, the last few stragglers will need more time to locate their seats.
The other part of of the charging equation that many don’t consider is also the charging speed of the wall box and what the car can accept.
For example, the fastest charging speed that the Niro EV can accept is 77kW. As most home installed chargers are rated below 22kW, to fully charge an battery from near zero would take between 8 to 24 hours. Most public chargers however are faster. SP Group’s network for example offer 43kW for AC and 50kW for DC charging. At this rate, the charging time would still take a bit longer than what Kia claims on 77kW.
While pure range might be the sole measure of how good an EV is, the impressive range of the Kia Niro EV is just the start of its appeal. In terms features and quality, it easily meets most of the expectations of what someone shopping around a $150k price point can expect in a car.
more than just the range.
Wireless smartphone charging, 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat, ventilated and heated front seats, cruise control, sunroof, seven airbags, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are amongst the myriad of features you’ll find in the Niro EV.
Driving enthusiasts will also be pleasantly surprised that the Kia Niro EV isn’t too shabby in the handling department either. It’s steering is sweeter and more communicative than many front-wheel drive sedans I care to name. Plus, there are even a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel which I have found extremely useful.
Instead of using them for gearshifts, Kia has cleverly assigned these paddles to vary the regenerative braking resistance. In practise, it works much like shifting to a lower gear to help the brakes slow the car down. As driving conditions change constantly, being able to switch to a more aggressive regeneration to maximise energy recovery or to coast with almost no resistance makes for a smoother drive.
Lastly, the Kia Niro EV is also the right size for city living. Spacious enough for a family of five with lots of room for luggage, crossover styling that offers a commanding driving position, yet compact enough on the outside to be easy to handle in parking lots.
Those who may still be undecided about making the switch to an EV would do well to consider the petrol-electric version. Having driven both, the Niro EV is undoubtedly the one to go for.
Kia Niro EV.
Motor: 150kW (201hp) @ 3,800-8,000rpm
Torque: 395Nm @ 0-3,600rpm
Battery capacity: 180Ah
Battery energy: 64kWh
Battery power: 170kW
0-100km/h: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 167km/h
Price from: $163,999 w/COE
VES Band: A1
Contact: Cycle & Carriage Kia
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