Practical test Kia Niro EV: Womanizer jammed

The question at the presentation of the new edition of the Kia Niro was more than justified: why didn’t the Koreans give the electric version of the crossover the 800-volt charging technology of their electric flagship EV6? Now we are standing with the Stromer in Münchberg on the A9 and the Niro EV sucks with a leisurely 40 kW on the fast charger, with an eleven percent SOC and an outside temperature of ten degrees.

“Remaining charging time up to 80 percent: 58 minutes,” reports the on-board computer. When we annoyedly pull the plug after three quarters of an hour with just 32 kW charging capacity, the range on the clock is 219 kilometers. That will be a long way to Hamburg.

Electric vehicles on long-distance journeys are still a tragedy that can really spoil the fun of electromobility. Either the onboard charge management doesn’t deliver the performance that was promised. Or if it does, then only for a few minutes, and then, as in this case, only sucks electricity at half power. Or the charging station doesn’t cooperate because there’s another e-car next door. Or the weather and temperatures don’t fit. Or, or, or…

According to the manufacturer, the Niro EV should be able to charge with a maximum of 80 kW – which our test car consistently refused. A maximum of 44 kW was once on the loading display. The battery of the crossover has a capacity of almost 65 kWh, with which up to 460 kilometers should be possible according to the WLTP standard. That didn’t work even once during the two-week test period. In the best case, the on-board computer showed 336 kilometers after a full charge at an outside temperature of 7 degrees. Otherwise, at 80 percent, we were always around a range of 220-230 kilometers. Of course, this is more than enough for the city, because even without a home wall box there are enough charging points where – given enough time – you can suckle with at least 11 kW. On the long haul, however, it becomes an irritating game of patience. After that, if, as in our case, there was a lack of an intelligent navigation system that suggests and calculates suitable charging stops. So we had no choice but to constantly search the display ourselves, which, in addition to the annoying touching, certainly does not contribute to driving safety.

Apart from such jamming, the pretty crossover knows how to convince in everyday use. The 63-member international jury of the Women World Car of the Year has just voted it the women’s car of the year 2023. The size and spaciousness of the Niro EV, which has been stretched to 4.42 metres, are made for urban use, whether as a commuter shuttle, taxi or shopping cart. The luggage compartment, which is easy to load via a low loading sill, has a decent volume of 475 liters. If the backrests are folded, it also becomes 1392 liters. Practical: The 20-liter storage compartment under the front hood (Frunk), in which the charging cable can be stowed away. Less practical: The central charging flap, which makes tiresome maneuvering necessary with some quick charging stations with a short cable.

The Stromer also looks much more mature than its predecessor and has gained in charisma thanks to the recognizable borrowings from the big SUV brother, the Sportage, with a chrome-framed radiator grille and LED daytime running lights in the form of a heartbeat curve. The wide, contrasting color of the C-pillar, in our case painted steel gray metallic (290 euros), with the boomerang taillights, also catches the eye. The EV6-style cockpit is dominated by an integrated panoramic display with two almost seamlessly connected 10.25-inch displays for the digital instrument cluster and multimedia system. All navigation and infotainment functions can be called up intuitively and in a self-explanatory manner on its touchscreen. A control unit with two rotary controls and a row of sensor buttons underneath offers direct and quick access to the most important air conditioning functions. In our test car with an optional technology package (1290 euros) – which, by the way, is only available in conjunction with a heat pump (1000 euros) and a comprehensive assistance package (1590 euros) – a brilliant head-up display reflects the most important information in the windscreen, which appears to be as practical as it is high-quality.

Overall, the interior offers a homely ambience with comfortable, ergonomic seats that can be adjusted in many ways electrically, heated and ventilated – provided the relax package (1190 euros) was ordered. Then the front passenger seat also whirrs into a reclining position at the touch of a button. A must with the long loading times. However, the matching ambient lighting in the dashboard, which ensures a cozy atmosphere during the night drive, is standard. The details are clever, such as the integrated coat hangers in the front seat backrests, the 220-volt socket in the rear center tunnel or the USB-C charging sockets on the sides of each seat backrest.

The Niro EV is powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor. Not exactly lavish in view of the monster performance of most electric vehicles that is now standard, but more than sufficient for every driving situation in everyday automotive use. The standard sprint from zero to 100 km/h takes 7.8 seconds and the top speed is electronically capped at 167 km/h in favor of the range. The lowering of the maximum torque from 395 to 255 Nm in the new edition of the best-selling electric Kia is compensated by a more constant thrust reaching almost 6000 rpm. The seamless and light-footed way with which the crossover buzzes from traffic light to traffic light, weaves silently through the lanes and completes every overtaking maneuver in a playful manner even behind the town sign, hardly changes anyway. Especially in sport mode, the almost 1.8 ton load becomes a lively compact car.

In addition to its design-related low center of gravity, the Stromer owes its agile handling not least to a lighter but at the same time stiffer body. Together with the battery, which is also lighter because it is more efficiently designed, the overall weight has been reduced by more than 50 kilograms. And that despite additional insulation and insulation, which ensure a whisper-quiet drive experience, especially in urban areas. Due to and thanks to the constant stop-and-go, the effect of the regenerative braking system, which can be varied via multi-stage shift paddles on the steering wheel, is also noticeable here. The maximum energy yield is achieved here in the “i-Pedal” mode, where even a slight lift of the accelerator pedal decelerates as vehemently as if you had stepped on the brake. In the “Smart Regeneration” function, however, you can also leave it to the system to orient itself to the traffic ahead and automatically select the most efficient mode of operation depending on the driving situation. When coasting at traffic lights, when coasting or when driving downhill, a few kilometers can be regained.

Although not so many that the theoretical range of 600 kilometers that Kia predicts for city driving is achieved. On briskly driven passages, the consumption quickly climbed over the 20 kWh mark from 130 km/h. All in all, our test car was a good two kilowatt hours above the specified WLTP standard with 18.3 kWh. And until they are refilled, it takes time, even with the fast charger, as already mentioned. Of course, charging with alternating current via the 3-phase onboard charger with 10.5 kW takes a little longer. Here Kia estimates around 6 hours and 20 minutes for a 100 percent charge, on the single-phase line with 7.2 kW output another three hours are added. The car also masters the so-called “vehicle-to-device” function. The charging connection of the Niro EV becomes a classic 220-volt socket via an adapter, with which external electrical devices with up to 3 kW can be charged or operated.

However, like so many things, it is not available for free. The Niro EV comes with a lot of equipment at a price of 47,590 euros, such as the navigation and infotainment system, 2-zone automatic air conditioning, sensor-controlled tailgate, an inductive charging station for smartphones and a navigation-based distance cruise control including stop & go function and highway assistants , drowsiness and front collision warning plus turning function. But many other goodies such as the already mentioned head-up display, heat pump for interior air conditioning or relaxation seats or even a remote parking robot, sound system and lots of assistance systems are only available with extra packages. The treacherous thing about it: Most packages build on each other and are mutually dependent. In other words, you only get them if other packages have been ordered beforehand. And that can cost money. In our case, the price for the test car rose to 53,450 euros. But there’s already an EV6 with a larger battery – and 800-volt fast charging technology. (cen/Frank Wald)

Data Kia Niro EV

Length x width x height (m): 4.42 x 1.83 x 1.57
Wheelbase (m): 2.72
Drive: E-synchronous motors, front-wheel drive, 1-stage reduction gear
System output: 150 kW / 204 hp
Max. torque: 255 Nm
Top speed: 167 km/h
Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 7.8 seconds
Energy consumption (WLTP): 16.2 kWh
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 0 g/km
Battery size: 64.8 kWh
Range (WLTP): 460 km
Curb weight (EU)/ payload: min. 1757 kg / max. 443 kg
Trunk volume: 475-1392 liters
Base price: 47,590 euros
Test car price: 53,450 euros

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