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Kia Niro 2023 review

The Kia Niro arrives with Hybrid or Full Electric models
EXPERT RATING
7.5
The Kia Niro is back, with the Korean brand sharpening the line-up to just two models (hybrid and electric), upping the cabin tech and delivering genuinely peaceful drive experience. But there's a price hurdle here. Can the Kia Niro clear it? We put it to the test to find out.

The first Niro was Kia's kind of breakfast-buffet entry into the low-emissions space.

Why? Because there was a little bit of everything for everyone, with a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a full EV available across the range.

That one was more of a toe-into-electrified-waters for Kia, released to gather customer feedback as much as anything else. For one, it was getting on in years before Kia Australia could get its hands on it. And even then, it couldn't actually get that many.

But this new one? The buffet is gone, replaced by a smaller a-la-carte menu. And you won't find a plug-in hybrid on it, with the new Niro now only available as a hybrid, or as an all-electric version.

So, what does it cost? How far can you drive it? And how do they measure up against the best electrified SUVs in the business?

Let's find out, shall we?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

If there's a fly in Kia's electrified ointment, it's this. The Niro is — quite frankly — not cheap.

The hybrid version comes in S or GT-Line trims, and it will set you back $44,380 or $50,030 respectively. And yes, you can buy a lot of RAV4 Hybrid for that money, should you be lucky enough to actually get one.

Then there's the Full Electric model. It too is available in S or GT-Line, and it's priced at $65,300 or $72,100. For reference, the brand's flagship electric vehicle, the EV6, can be yours (for now, at least) for around $2.5k more for the Air or for the GT-Line in RWD version respectively.

The GT-Line rides on bigger 18-inch alloys. The GT-Line rides on bigger 18-inch alloys.

Why? The short answer is that Kia says costs have soared since the launch of the EV6, so much so that — if that model was launched today — it would be considerably more expensive. That and the fact that Kia Australia can only secure 75 examples of the Niro a month, shared between hybrid and EV, so they don't exactly have bulk-buying negotiating power with HQ.

So, what do you get for your investment?

The range starts with the Hybrid S, which gets cloth and artificial leather seat trim, LED DRL's and LED rear taillights (but halogen headlights), a 4.2-inch digital driver display and and 8.0-inch central touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and a six-speaker stereo. You also get dual-zone climate, 16-inch alloys and electric mirrors and windows.

If there’s a fly in Kia’s electrified ointment, it’s this. The Niro is — quite frankly — not cheap. (EV GT-Line variant pictured) If there’s a fly in Kia’s electrified ointment, it’s this. The Niro is — quite frankly — not cheap. (EV GT-Line variant pictured)

Stepping up to the Hybrid GT-Line adds a whole bunch of nice stuff, including twin 10.25-inch screens (one for the driver, the other for infotainment), bigger 18-inch alloys, perforated bio-leather seats, LED headlights, a better steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats.

The Full Electric trim levels largely match the hybrid's specifications, except both ride on 17-inch alloys, and even the S model gets the twin-screen infotainment set-up.

The All Electric GT-Line also gets a better eight-speaker stereo, a sunroof, and what the brand calls a Premium Relaxation Front Passenger Seat — which tilts back so you can get comfy while charging.

Stepping up to the Hybrid GT-Line adds a whole bunch of nice stuff, including twin 10.25-inch screen. Stepping up to the Hybrid GT-Line adds a whole bunch of nice stuff, including twin 10.25-inch screen.

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

First things first — it's not quite as out-there in the looks department as the Kia EV6, is it?

In fact, the Niro looks a lot like, well, any Kia. Up front, there's the latest version of Kia's Tiger front-end treatment, and there are LED DRLs and rear taillights, and even a nod to adventure - though don't expect to be going too far off road in a front-drive crossover - with the silver exterior cladding. There's also the coloured cladding at the C-Pillar, which can be had in contrasting colours to help stand out.

  • 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line
  • 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line
  • 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line
  • 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line 2023 Kia Niro EV GT-Line

The Niro is predictably wrapped in eco-friendly materials — like recycled bottles in the headliners, and eucalyptus tree fibres in the seats — but how nice an experience you have depends very much on how much you spend.

The entry-level S Hybrid makes do with the most basic cabin tech, the S EV gets a little better, but the GT-Line cars get a genuinely impressive tech offering, with this kind of wall of screens that link the driver's binnacle to the centre screen. Also cool is the integrated touch sensitive infotainment and climate control, which helps pare back the busy in here a bit.

Still, it's a nice, comfy and fairly premium-feeling space — even if it's not as space-age as the EV6.

  • 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV
  • 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV
  • 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV
  • 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV 2023 Kia Niro GT HEV

How practical is the space inside?   7/10

This Kia Niro is bigger than the one it replaces, stretching some 4420mm in length, 1825mm in width and between 1545mm and 1570mm  in height. It rides on a 2720mm wheelbase, too.

In the boot, you'll find 425 litres (VDA) in the hybrid, and 475 litres (VDA) in the electric model, with those numbers swelling to between 1392 and 1419 litres with second row folded flat.

In the boot, you'll find 425 litres (VDA) in the hybrid, and 475 litres (VDA) in the electric model. (EV GT-Line variant pictured) In the boot, you'll find 425 litres (VDA) in the hybrid, and 475 litres (VDA) in the electric model. (EV GT-Line variant pictured)

While there was enough room in the backseat for my 175cm frame, it's not exactly a celebration of space back there. Adults can ride in relative comfort when riding four-up, but squeezing an extra human in the middle could be stretching the friendship a little.

You'll find cupholders up front and for backseat riders, as well as bottle-holder storage in each of the doors. Also very cool is, in the All Electric model, a V2L plug (which is a traditional Australian plug socket) meaning you can charge bigger devices on the fly by simply plugging in.

While there was enough room in the backseat for my 175cm frame, it's not exactly a celebration of space back there. (EV GT-Line variant pictured) While there was enough room in the backseat for my 175cm frame, it's not exactly a celebration of space back there. (EV GT-Line variant pictured)

Handy, right?

Also new this time around is Kia Connect, allowing you all sorts of remote access to your Niro from your mobile phone, so you can do things like pre-load navigation instructions, pre-heat or cool the cabin, or find your Kia should you have lost it in a carpark (don't laugh, I have genuinely done that...).

This Kia Niro is bigger than the one it replaces, stretching some 4420mm in length, 1825mm in width and between 1545mm and 1570mm  in height. (S EV variant pictured) This Kia Niro is bigger than the one it replaces, stretching some 4420mm in length, 1825mm in width and between 1545mm and 1570mm in height. (S EV variant pictured)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The Hybrid is pretty conventional, pairing a 1.6-litre engine with a 1.32kwH battery and electric motor for a combined output of 104kW and 265Nm. It gets a six-speed DCT auto and front-wheel drive. A sprint to 100km/h is pretty leisurely, taking more than 10 seconds.

But the EV is a bit different. It gets a big 64.8kWh battery and a front-mounted motor that produces 150kW and 255Nm, the latter of which arrives instantaneously, helping drop the sprint to 100km/h to just 7.8secs - and that's despite carrying almost half a tonne of battery with you.

The Hybrid is pretty conventional, pairing a 1.6-litre engine with a 1.32kwH battery and electric motor for a combined output of 104kW and 265Nm. (GT EV variant pictured) The Hybrid is pretty conventional, pairing a 1.6-litre engine with a 1.32kwH battery and electric motor for a combined output of 104kW and 265Nm. (GT EV variant pictured)

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

Kia reckons the hybrid car will sip 4.0-litres per hundred kilometres on the combined cycle, and GOOD NEWS, the 42-litre tank will sip cheap 91RON fuel.

No fuel needed for the electric one, though. Kia reckons the Niro EV will deliver 460kms in driving range when fully charged. And when it does come time to plug in, a 7kW Wall Box at home will take nine hours and 25 minutes to go from empty to full, or a 100kW DC charger (also the charging max), will take 45 minutes to go from 10 to 80 percent.

Kia reckons the Niro EV will deliver 460kms in driving range when fully charged. 9EV GT-Line variant pictured) Kia reckons the Niro EV will deliver 460kms in driving range when fully charged. 9EV GT-Line variant pictured)

What's it like to drive?   8/10

No point in keeping you waiting here, is there? I really like the way the Niro drives.

Want more? Sure. We spent most of our time behind the wheel of the All Electric model, which offers this treacle-smooth and gear-change-free acceleration (which occurs in near silence), which only really reminds you how easy good EVs are to drive.

We're not talking the lightning-fast acceleration some EVs have become famed for. In fact, 7.8 seconds is pretty leisurely, but it doesn't overly detract from the experience here. Instead, it just adds to the easy-going nature of the drive experience.

This is an easy, fuss-free drive experience. (GT HEV variant pictured) This is an easy, fuss-free drive experience. (GT HEV variant pictured)

Also strong is the ride and handling balance, with Kia's local wizards working their magic to create a ride that feels connected to the road surface below, but still manages to soak up all but the worst road imperfections. All of which pairs nicely with well-weighted steering.

If it sound like I'm waxing lyrical a bit here, it's because I am. But there are some downsides here, too.

For one, you can't just magic away the extra weight of those batteries, and while the Niro goes around tight corners will little in the way of tyre squeal, it can feel like you're willing something pretty heavy to go where you want it to.

Mostly, though, this is an easy, fuss-free drive experience. There's nothing to scream from the rafters, but little to complain about, too.

We spent most of our time behind the wheel of the All Electric model, which offers this treacle-smooth and gear-change-free acceleration. (EV GT-Line variant pictured) We spent most of our time behind the wheel of the All Electric model, which offers this treacle-smooth and gear-change-free acceleration. (EV GT-Line variant pictured)

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

7 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   7/10

I won't bore you with a long list of safety kit here. Instead, I'll tell you what's new.

This time around Kia has added a centre side airbag, multi-collision braking, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist,, Rear Cross Traffic Collision Avoidance Assist and an intelligent speed limiter - all of which are standard fit.

The even more advanced stuff — like parking collision avoidance assist and safe exit assist — is reserved for the GT Line cars. (EV GT-Line pictured) The even more advanced stuff — like parking collision avoidance assist and safe exit assist — is reserved for the GT Line cars. (EV GT-Line pictured)

They join a pretty comprehensive suite of safety kit, with the even more advanced stuff — like parking collision avoidance assist and safe exit assist — reserved for the GT Line cars.

The outgoing Kia Niro was crash-tested in 2016 and got a full five-star mark.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

The Niro is covered by Kia's seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and the old car needed servicing every 12 months or 15,000kms.

Capped price servicing also appears, and again, based on the outgoing model, you can expect to pay around $3500 over the full warranty period, averaging out to $500 per annum.

The Niro is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. (GT HEV variant pictured) The Niro is covered by Kia’s seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. (GT HEV variant pictured)

Verdict

If you can overcome the price – and that might be a pretty big if – the Kia Niro is a lovely-to-drive EV that makes the leap from an ICE vehicle seem very manageable indeed.

The hybrid, too, is a nice drive, but the pricing here could prove and even bigger challenge when compared to the all-conquering RAV4 Hybrid.

EXPERT RATING
7.5
Price and features7
Design7
Practicality7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption8
Driving8
Safety7
Ownership8
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing Journalist

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