All-new version of popular electric crossover features distinctive looks and improved driver appeal
This is the all-new version of one of the UKâ€™s best-selling all-electric family cars, the Kia Niro. Itâ€™s a machine that, in its outgoing form, has helped the Korean brand buck the recent downward sales spiral that has afflicted most manufacturers, which are still reeling from the after-effects of the Covid pandemic, as well as now dealing with supply chain chaos and the impact of a cost-of-living crisis.Â While many have been struggling, Kia has been soaring. Over the course of 2021, it increased sales in Europe by more than 20% and grew its market share from 3.5% to 4.3%. More important, at some points during the year, nearly half of the cars it sold were electrified.Â Â The original electric Niro wasnâ€™t the most exciting car, but it offered decent practicality, loads of kit and a seven-year warranty. Crucially, it was capable of a range of nearly 300 miles, a figure thatâ€™s usually only available with EVs that cost twice as much. Even before the current semiconductor shortage struck, the waiting list for the all-electric Kia would have embarrassed even Morgan.Â That means thereâ€™s a lot riding on the all-new version, which, as before, is also available as a hybrid and PHEV. As a result, you could have forgiven Kia for playing safe and sticking with the old carâ€™s fairly inoffensive approach, but thatâ€™s not how the brand rolls these days. Just take a look at the rakish Kia EV6 and (letâ€™s be generous) distinctive Kia Sportage for proof.Â At the front, the Niroâ€™s eye-catchingly angular daytime running lights dominate, and a large flap in the centre of the grille covers the charging port that denotes this as the all-electric model. Speaking of which, this is no longer called the e-Niro, but the Niro EV. At the rear are kinked, vertically laid-out LED lights, while the flash-camouflaged rear bumper of our car denoted it as a very late pre-production prototype.Â Perhaps the most attention-grabbing piece of design are the large C-pillars, which on top-spec 4 models can be finished in contrasting gloss black or gunmetal grey for an extra ÂŁ150. Look closer, however, and youâ€™ll notice theyâ€™re actually flying buttresses, designed to channel air more efficiently around the rear of the car. In combination with the vehicleâ€™s nearly totally flat underside, they contribute to a drag coefficient of 0.29, which isnâ€™t bad for a fairly bluff-fronted junior SUV.Â Under the skin, the Niro is all-new, too, featuring the third iteration of the firmâ€™s K platform. Itâ€™s a little longer and wider than before and increased use of high-tensile steel has resulted in a 20kg reduction of the body-in-white mass. Suspenion is handled by a new four-link independent rear axle, while at the front, MacPherson struts are retained.