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Kia Niro 2023 review: EV GT-Line long-term | Part 3


I’ve spent a little over three months, 3265 kilometres, and 88 and a half hours in the Niro to find out if this little EV SUV has what it takes to deal with the challenges of Australian geography and the relative infancy of its EV network.

For the most part, the GT-Line has made it with flying colours, its 460km claimed range more than enough to stave off most instances of range anxiety, even taking on longer journeys without any alarming drops in range. And, again, its shape and size are ideal for commuters who live about town.

How practical has the Kia Niro been?

The flat floor in the rear of the cabin provides additional legroom for rear passengers, but it's even more useful than that.

I would often chuck my grocery shop or ungainly objects back there, especially if I already had something in the boot, or if I needed them to stay upright.

The flat floor in the rear of the cabin provides additional legroom for rear passengers. (Image: Tom White) The flat floor in the rear of the cabin provides additional legroom for rear passengers. (Image: Tom White)

I also often used the rear seat myself when I was on-the-go. I attended multiple online events in this car, and its ability to function as a mobile office, with ample space in the back seat and power outlet for charging my laptop plus USB-C for charging my phone while it tethered the internet, was invaluable at times.

I would also use it this way while waiting for the car to charge up and I had deadlines to meet. Electric future, indeed.

The rear doors are also large and open very wide, so if you had kids I imagine it would also be handy for fitting child seats or the like.

The Niro functioned as a mobile office thanks to the ample space in the back seat, power outlet and USB-C port. (Image: Tom White) The Niro functioned as a mobile office thanks to the ample space in the back seat, power outlet and USB-C port. (Image: Tom White)

Does the Kia Niro look good?

While I appreciated the design of this car, it wasn’t for everyone. I received mixed reviews on its futuristic style, contrasting grey bits, and blanked-out face. Similarly, my ride-alongs either loved or hated the interior, there wasn’t a middle ground. 

I like it, though. The science-fiction style goes with the feel of the car and while it's a less outrageous option, keeps it in line with something like the EV6. It’s not as much of a head-turner, either, helping you run a little more incognito than a lot of other EVs out there.

  • The science-fiction styled interior goes with the feel of the car. (Image: Tom White) The science-fiction styled interior goes with the feel of the car. (Image: Tom White)
  • The Niro received mixed reviews on its futuristic style and contrasting grey bits. (Image: Tom White) The Niro received mixed reviews on its futuristic style and contrasting grey bits. (Image: Tom White)

What is the Kia Niro EV like to drive?

I continued to enjoy the Niro drive experience, which for the most part is comfortable and composed. If you’re hoping for Tesla levels of speed, that’s something this EV doesn’t offer. But it does strike a decent middle-ground by offering more performance than something like an MG ZS EV or Nissan Leaf.

It rides relatively comfortably, certainly better than the brittle Teslas, and offers a comparatively light steering tune, too.

The performance is one of the major issues for this car, however. While it’s more than sufficient for most buyers, at the asking price for this GT-Line variant ($72,100, before on-road costs), it’s not much of a stretch to go to the entry-level Kia EV6 or Volvo XC40 which offer significantly punchier drivetrains. And it’s notable that entry versions of the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 are significantly cheaper.

  • The Niro drive experience was comfortable and composed. (Image: Tom White) The Niro drive experience was comfortable and composed. (Image: Tom White)
  • The Niro offers a comparatively light steering tune. (Image: Tom White) The Niro offers a comparatively light steering tune. (Image: Tom White)

How much does it cost to charge the Kia Niro EV?

When it comes to energy consumption, I landed on a final figure of 15.3kWh/100km, significantly down from the 16.2kWh/100km from the month before, thanks to the car spending most of its time milling around town in its final month with me.

I used it with primarily the highest regenerative braking setting - the single pedal mode, and I’d consider this consumption well above average for an EV in this class.

When charging the Niro at Evie branded stations, a charge would cost between $15-$20. (Image: Tom White) When charging the Niro at Evie branded stations, a charge would cost between $15-$20. (Image: Tom White)

When it comes to the cost to charge it, for my time with the Niro I used about half my time using a local free solar-charged AC unit, which could charge the Niro from 10 per cent in roughly four hours, I would usually stick around for an hour and a half and pick up 100-150km of range at a time.

Because I also used the Niro for quite a few longer trips, I plugged into the DC fast charging network more extensively than I’ve had to in long termers past.

Generally, I charged up at Evie branded stations, which have a 40c/kWh tariff for the 50kW stations. These cost me between $15 - $20 depending on how low my state of charge was when I arrived, and how long I was willing to wait around when the charge slowed beyond about 85 per cent.

During it's third month of this long-term review, the Niro achieved an energy consumption figure of 15.3kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White) During it's third month of this long-term review, the Niro achieved an energy consumption figure of 15.3kWh/100km. (Image: Tom White)

How does the Kia Niro compare to the EV6?

Finally, as I hop out of the Niro and into my next long-term tester, which as it turns out is the Niro’s larger sibling, the EV6, I’m reminded of how great the Niro’s form factor is.

While it has expanded in dimension over its predecessor, its size made it so easy to park and use in my largely inner-city life.

The EV6? Not so much. Yes it’s more powerful, and has a more alluring design, but compared to the Niro it’s so big, long, and ungainly.

It’s hard to park in my unit parking spot, and aside from some extra length in the rear of the cabin and overall width, I’d argue the Niro’s big enough unless you have your own (large) garage to keep the EV6 in.

The Niro's size made it easy to park and use in a largely inner-city life. (Image: Tom White) The Niro's size made it easy to park and use in a largely inner-city life. (Image: Tom White)

Acquired: August 2022

Distance travelled this month: 1587km

Distance travelled overall: 3265km

Odometer: 3824km

Average overall energy consumption: 15.3kWh/100km

This brings us to the final chapter, and some parting words for the Niro. I’ll miss this car. My partner and I loved its convenient form factor, our friends loved its generous back seat, and everyone enjoyed its plentiful range for most scenarios.

It’s joined me on several long journeys, it’s been my office on occasion, and it even saved me from a bind by charging up another EV in a pinch. 

Aside from a few minor issues, then, it’s been great. Would I buy one myself? I’d love to, but the $72,000 asking price is so high I’d be tempted to consider some of its higher-performance premium rivals, instead.

Still, I’m hoping they’re taking notes on everything this car offers, because it has almost everything a prospective EV owner should be looking for.

 

$44,990 - $79,990

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4/5
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