Kia Niro EV review: Second-gen model is good value

The new look Niro is even better than the original and its impressive range puts it ahead of its competitors

When I was at the European launch of the Niro in Frankfurt in August, I was given my choice of powertrains to take to the scenic German mountains. I opted for the plug-in hybrid that day and found the 2nd gen version to be as exciting as the Korean manufacturers claimed.

Its new look gives it a more unique identity whereas Mk1 could easily have been confused with the super popular Sportage.

But there’s no denying that Niro’s new look is way better than the original. I thought about it in August when I had it for a few hours and I think about it even more now that I’ve had the full-EV version in my driveway for a week.

I worked hard on the seven-day trip of school errands, city commutes, and a few decent-sized highway trips, and honestly, it’s hard to find fault.

The look may polarize opinion in some quarters, but it’s nowhere near as “present” as many new designs these days. Personally, I appreciate what the designers have done here, creating a bigger, stronger look with some spunky panels on the back behind the C-pillar. These can be customized to your liking.

That panel coupled with the bolder front view (can’t say grille because the VE doesn’t have one) plus the bright headlights, which were stolen from the Sportage, make for a great looking car. It has certainly gained in confidence since the last version, which tended to blend in with traffic even though it was a creaky car.

The interior gets even more exciting as it is inspired by the design of the Irish Car of the Year 2022, the EV6 Conqueror. Big screens alongside a rotary gear selector below the giant centralized touchscreen with a nice display of digital instruments for the little old me.

In-car ‘technology’ is becoming an increasingly important monster to me with some of the biggest German brands getting into the seemingly simple art of creating a logically laid-out infotainment system that’s easy to learn, use and navigate.

Kia is one of those companies that does it brilliantly. The Korean company has clearly focused on functionality rather than trying to create an impressive level of technology, which usually comes at the expense of simple things.

The rear camera is also very good. Another simple thing some companies get wrong, well done.

The Niro EV’s battery sits under the floor, which helps with the car’s overall weight distribution and can also be charged faster than the previously dubbed e-Niro.

The trunk measures 475 litres, making it significantly larger than other electric cars in its segment. In addition, a 20-litre trunk under the bonnet also allows you to store the charging cables!

The space inside is equally impressive. Headroom and legroom are plentiful front and rear, and there are plenty of storage compartments throughout.

There’s a 204hp electric motor that drives the front wheels powered by a 64.8kWh lithium-ion battery. Officially it has a range of 460 km, but in reality you should aim for 400-420 km.

Even still, that again puts it above the competition (although the Hyundai Kona claims 22 more miles).

It can also be a fast car if you want it to have impressive torque, and the ride quality is noticeably more dialed in than the hybrid and PHEV versions. The heavy battery also helps keep the car glued to the road, which is a good thing as the steering can be a little light at times.

The all-electric version starts at £43,550 when you factor in the government subsidy and VRT rebate, but expect to pay a few pounds more for a nicer spec.

It’s not the cheapest electric vehicle on the road, but you get what you pay for. You only have to look at the number of taxi drivers who drive them to know that they are reliable and fun.

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