Kia Niro in Banks Peninsula

Kia Niro – the EV of the Future is Here

Here at Cockram Kia, we’re giving a warm welcome to the Kia Niro, a crossover that packs a serious punch in space and functionality, all without a single emission emitted. I (Ashlyn, digital marketing and events specialist at Cockram Kia), was lucky enough to take the Niro for a spin one Friday afternoon, and boy was I impressed.

The Niro model was introduced to New Zealand in 2018, first as a hybrid. The Niro is now offered in full EV mode in two options – EX 289 and EX 455. 289 and 455 represent the kilometre range in WLTP – an insightful and simplistic idea by Kia. With the ever-growing popularity of SUVs in New Zealand, this eco-friendly, roomy edition is an easy sell with high range, helpful driver assistance features, and a spacious interior. What other EV on the market can offer all that?

The Niro has been described as a mini version of the Sportage with its sleek styling and interior perks offering immediate attraction. Kia’s first EV takes cues from the backlash early hybrid and EV models received, making the Niro surprisingly un-EV like. Aside from the interior and exterior blue accents and front grille, the Niro looks smart. Take note, though, it’s a crossover only in looks, as this front wheel drive may not be suitable for more rugged or slippery terrain.

Kia Niro Touchscreen

The Drive.

I took the Niro for a test drive on Christchurch’s Old Sumner Road. A newly opened connection between Sumner and Lyttelton, this winding road cuts through the cliffs offering spectacular views and a great spot to test the Niro’s curve handling ability.

I began my journey during peak school pick-up time, which resulted in a lot of stop and go traffic. Although annoying to sit in, it gave me a great opportunity to watch the Niro’s battery levels, which are brightly displayed on the dash screen. I’m not a regular EV driver so I struggle with range anxiety whenever I’m behind the wheel of an EV. Luckily, the range hardly budged due to the regenerative braking feature. With four levels of intensity to choose from, all adjustable from the steering-wheel-mounted paddle, swapping between levels was a breeze.

I will note, this regenerative braking does take a while to get used to. On the eco-friendliest option, the deceleration was abrupt. Depending on the type of driving you’re doing, you may want to start in a lower mode to get used to this feature. By the end of my trip I was feeling more comfortable with the regenerative braking, so I am sure a full day of driving would have made the transition smoother.

Kia Niro Boot Space

I was impressed with the boot space – all 451 litres of it. I’ve considered purchasing EVs in the past but have been hesitant due to lack of space. Between my large husky mix and bulky camping gear, a small boot won’t fit my lifestyle. However, as I test drove the Niro into the hills, I began to think otherwise.

The drive was smooth as well – steering responses were swift, and the interior noise was minimal. The driver-assistance features such as Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) worked well over the curves. I was surprised to find the Niro also offers Lane Following Assist, smart cruise control, and a rearview camera. The rearview camera is displayed on the standard 7” LCD touchscreen which also features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Specs.

Depending on the model you go for – either the EX 289 or EX 455 – your range and charge time varies. The EX 455 comes with a 64kWh battery and has three ways to charge, much like any standard EV. Charging with a dedicated AC charger (Type 2), available to install in home, will charge from 0-100% battery in just over 6 hours. A DC public rapid charger can charge a Niro’s battery from 0-80% in just under an hour. There is also an emergency option using a 3-pin wall plug charger that takes approximately 29 hours to go from 0-100%.* The EX 289 has a 39.2 kWh battery and will take less time to charge but offers less range.

 Final Thoughts.

The Niro is a great crossover for those who need space, ground clearance, and towing capacity. You’ll be hard pressed to find a crossover that offers more range, features, and style for a starting price of $69,990+ORC. I found the driving smooth and comfortable and certainly would be delighted to take the Niro on a weekend camping trip. With the connected network of charging stations popping up around the country, there’s no longer an excuse for range anxiety, especially with 455 km of range.

I appreciated the sleek style of the Niro and it’s interior comforts. Everything I needed (volume changing, regenerative braking, Apple CarPlay) was right at my fingertips, leaving me less distracted and frazzled than usual.

If you’re in the market for a new crossover, why not consider an EV? Head on down to Cockram Kia and take the Niro for a test drive. Our team will walk you through the features and help turn even the most staunch petrol heads into EV believers.

Ready to take the EV plunge? Get in touch with our team today to book in your test drive.

*Charge times depending on condition and durability of the high voltage battery, charger specification, and ambient temperature, the time required for charging the high voltage battery may vary.

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