Launch Report: Kia Niro EV stands out in the highly competitive C-SUV segment

22 July 2022

Kia’s Niro has set the benchmark for the carmaker’s electric-vehicle (EV) line-up. The previous model, known as the e-Niro, bookmarked Kia’s serious interest in the market, which has since seen the launch of the EV6, and plans for further models in the coming years.

However, the Niro name remains integral to Kia’s plans for its electric future, as shown in this latest model. Now the Niro EV, it follows the Korean company’s new design approach, with a textured grill separated by a solid bar. This houses the electric charging point in the battery-electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions.

The rear of the Niro EV features a ‘stanced’ look, with thin rear LED lights sweeping from the roofline into the middle of the body, the curved profile continuing down to the wheel line. This makes the car seem planted on the road.

Aeroblade adds style

Another design addition, the Aeroblade, helps with this exercise in stability. Effectively a wing on each side, the c-pillar features an opening halfway between the roof and wheel arch, with strakes before it to help channel air. This reduces road noise, and improves aerodynamics, helping to increase the range. The Aeroblade is also a design feature, painted in a contrasting colour to the vehicle body, although drivers can specify to have the colours match.

The clean and elegant interior features high-quality materials and offers a relaxed environment. Two 10.25-inch screens support instrument controls and infotainment, with intuitive menus and graphics making it easier to operate than some rival systems. Climate controls are operated with buttons and dials, decreasing the level of complexity that some manufacturers build in with fully touch-operated systems.

The car offers the Vehicle to Load system (V2L), already available in the Kia EV6, which allows the connection of devices to a conventional power outlet in the car. Practicality is also evident in the boot, with the 475-litre capacity much larger than some competitor models.

Increases in range and price

The Kia Niro EV is available with hybrid, PHEV, or BEV powertrains. The BEV model produces a range of 460km from its 64.8kWh battery. While this is stronger than some of its competitors, the model would have benefitted from a bigger battery and range, especially as the BEV market is continuing to develop, and larger models would be best suited to more than 480km. This could also be a barrier for company car drivers who depend on longer ranges.

With the new model, list prices have risen, and significantly so compared to its e-Niro predecessor. It is now more expensive than some of its closest competitors, and while the design, build, and practicality have improved, this may not be enough to justify the higher prices to buyers. However, Kia does provide a seven-year warranty with the Niro EV, which will give some peace of mind to those looking to purchase a three-to-four-year-old model.

The C-SUV segment is becoming more competitive as carmakers develop new models, and electrified vehicles, in particular, are starting to increase in popularity. By building on its previous generation, the Kia Niro EV has an opportunity to shine, with improved looks, handling, and greater awareness of the brand in the world of electric vehicles.

The Autovista Group dashboard benchmarks the Kia Niro EV in France, Italy, Spain, and the UK for more details. The interactive launch report presents new prices, forecast residual values, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis.

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