Finally, Kia brings electric and hybrid Niro to Australia

Posted: 20 May 2021 3:01 pm

Now there's a Kia Niro for everyone: Hybrid, plug-in hybrid or electric

Kia Australia confirms the Niro will at last arrive locally, after breaking cover back in 2018. Here are the highlights of this sure to be popular crossover SUV.

Hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully electric: You choose

A major selling point in the Niro's favour is that it's available with the choice of three different powertrains. Reportedly, these are borrowed from its cousin, the Hyundai Kona.

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid interior

Kia Niro Hybrid

The hybrid Kia Niro kicks things off with a Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of $39,990. This model has a 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine that's taken from the Kona. In the Niro, the engine outputs 77.2kW and 147Nm. An electric motor adds 32kW and 170Nm into the mix, with Kia stating that the total system output is 104kW and 265Nm.

Engineers bolt the motor between the engine and transmission, which they say is the most efficient way of combining both power sources. It also does away with extra complexity and enables the motor to power the front wheels on its own.

For the Hybrid, the battery pack is placed below the rear seats and measures 240V. The capacity is 1.56kWh. The hybrid Niro is capable of purely electric propulsion, from a standing start. Kia says the engine kicks in when at higher speeds or under heavy acceleration. Naturally, the Kia Niro Hybrid has energy recuperation to further efficiency, using conventional regen braking.

Thanks to a smoothing of the underbody components, Kia has shaved the drag coefficient down to just 0.30Cd. That's more streamlined than a Porsche 911 Turbo (0.33). The Niro has aerodynamic body panels, including a rear spoiler and a wheel designed to slice cleanly through the air.

Like the Plug-in Niro, the Hybrid model has a 6-speed, dual clutch transmission.

All these technologies combined mean the Hybrid has an impressively minuscule rate of fuel use, just 3.8L/100km.

Other features include:

  • 16- or 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Space saver spare tyre (very rare nowadays).
  • 8 paint finishes to choose from (premium paints are a $520 option).
  • Michelin Energy Saver + eco tyres (Sport models get Michelin Pilot Sport 4s).
  • Active safety systems like Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Follow Assist as well as Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert.
  • Passive safety assists include things like a reinforced and stiffened bodyshell, thanks to the use of high-strength steel.
  • 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • 7 airbags around the cabin.
  • 410-litres (seats up), 1,408-litres (seats folded down) boot volume.
  • 4.2-inch digital telemetry cluster.
  • Dual-zone A/C with driver only mode to save energy.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

Plug-in hybrids (PHEV) really seem like the perfect solution for modern drivers. You get some of the benefits of having an electric car, but the reassurance and practicality of a conventional petrol tank. The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid has an RRP from $46,590, for an "S" model.

Power for the PHEV model is listed as 77.2kW and 147Nm from the 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine, with an extra 44.5kW and 170Nm from the electric motor, for a total of 104kW and 265Nm.

2022 Kia Niro PHEV - A look in the engine bay

The battery on the Plug-In Hybrid is larger than the Hybrid model. It is rated at 360V and 8.9kWh, split over two cells. One sits beneath the rear seats, the other under the boot. Fuel economy given for the Plug-In Hybrid is an astounding 1.3L/100km! The electric-only range of the Plug-in Niro is 58km. For comparison, a Hyundai IONIQ PHEV can travel 63km on battery power alone.

Kia lists the charging time of the PHEV, from empty to full (100%), using a 3.3kW charger as 2 hours and 15 minutes, easily achievable at home overnight. The connector is lockable for security. You can also schedule charging to take advantage of off-peak energy tariffs.

Highlights include:

  • 3 driving modes: Automatic, EV (where the car aims to run on the battery and motor, but the engine can jump in as needed) or Hybrid, which works like the Hybrid model Niro, blending the two sources of power.
  • 16-inch aerodynamic alloy wheels.
  • Tyre repair kit, instead of a spare wheel, saving space and weight.
  • Type 2 charger plug for AC charging.
  • Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS) which generates a noise so that road users can hear the PHEV (and EV) Niro moving at slow speeds, under 28km/h. It is possible to switch this off (for when you want to be sneaky?).
  • 324-litres (seats up), 1,322-litres (seats folded down) boot volume, a smidge less than the Hybrid model.

2022 Kia Niro EV electric SUV

Kia Niro EV

The fully-electric EV Niro starts from $62,590. This model does away with the internal combustion engine and instead houses a 150kW, 395Nm capable motor. Kia says the EV Niro's 365V, 64kWh battery supports a maximum range of 455km, according to WLTP testing. That's more than the Mercedes-Benz EQC, the entry-level Audi e-Tron and the Nissan Leaf.

2022 Kia Niro EV on charge

When charging the EV, if you're using a 7.2kW wall charger, it'll take 9 hours and 35 minutes. DC rapid charging is where you get your best speeds, with a 100kW DC charger taking 54 minutes to top the battery back up to 80% and a 50kW charger requiring 1 hour and 15 minutes to do the same job. The EV Niro has a CCS Type 2 connector that supports DC charging.

Notable Features include:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels.
  • Michelin Primacy 3 tyres, designed for longevity and efficiency.
  • Four selectable driving modes (Eco, Eco+, Normal and Sport).
  • 7-inch driver's instrument cluster.

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  • Single-zone A/C.
  • Smart regen braking which automatically selects the level of energy recuperation.
  • An almost entirely smooth underside cover, meaning the drag coefficient drops to 0.29Cd.
  • Smart air-cooling of motor for improved efficiency at speed.

The Niro has a 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty with 7 years of roadside assistance and 7 years of capped-price servicing. The battery and motor are covered by a 7-year 150,000km warranty.

Interested in learning more about electric and hybrid cars? Then check out our electric car reviews. In addition to doing your bit for the environment, it's important you compare car loan options, as well as car insurance quotes to maximise your savings!

Picture: Supplied

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