Battery electric vehicles have been slow to uptake in Australia thanks to range anxiety, purchase price and limited vehicle choice, but the 2022 Kia Niro EV Sport might just be set to change all that.
The first piece of good news is that range anxiety is largely resolved for a lot of potential owners, with a range of 455km providing strong reassurance of being able to take a decent length drive.
Put simply, proximity to a recharge station drops down the priority list. Recharging still has its own challenges without a wall box charger at home though. The current spec Niro EV also arrives in Australia near the end of its life cycle and in limited quantities.
Of course, this is less about sales numbers and more about brand visibility in this sector. That said, let’s look at what the 2022 Kia Niro EV Sport is like to drive.
As expected, it has comfortable seating with decent steering wheel position adjustment. The instruments and controls are easily accessed, although this time the indicator stalk is situated on the left side of the column.
On the road, it is difficult to separate driving this BEV from a conventional car, except for the lack of engine noise. The suspension is firm and being pushed through corners on secondary roads feels settled.
It’s EV battery heavy, but not awkwardly so. Hitting the accelerator hard gets it up and going well enough for most. The benefit of coming back down the hill is regaining range from the regenerative braking, at times up to 5km by the gauge.
However, recharge time is still the elephant in the room. During our test with remaining charge at 61 per cent, we plugged into a domestic wall socket using the supplied In Cable Control Box (ICCB).
At a charging rate of 2.1kW we had 15 hour 20 minute remaining time. Not a very useful scenario for a daily driver car. Some days later, with much less range left, we presented at a local fast charging station.
We downloaded their app, linked our credit card and test charged using the 50kW DC fast charger. After 33 minutes we added 35.7kWh at $0.40/kWh, costing just over $14. Translated, we went from about one quarter of a tank to three quarters in half an hour.
Our test car had a subtle dark grey paintwork with blue (EV) exterior accents. The new Kia logo stands out front and rear. Silver grey 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails complement the dark scheme highlighted by chrome door handles and upper door finishers.
Black lower side protection mouldings blend right into the dark paintwork. The Tiger Nose front grille panel is decorated with dimples and carries the recharge port cover. LED lighting is fitted all round, and the headlamps are dusk-sensing automatic.
Our vehicle was shod with Michelin PRIMACY 3 and the Niro has a tyre pressure management system fitted standard across the range. There is no spare wheel with the PHEV and BEV, just a tyre inflation kit.
The interior is finished in dark tones, with silver trim highlights and the high gloss finishing panels seem to easily attract fingerprints. This includes the gear (shift-by-wire) selector surround and the window switch panels.
The Niro EV has front electric seating without heating, cooling or memory functions and has one touch front windows. Our Sport was fitted with alloy pedals pads. Black synthetic leather is standard throughout, with contrast stitching, including the steering wheel.
The centre console armrest conceals a cubby box with a USB-A port inside. Two front console cup holders are located below a sliding cover and a large open space can be found at the forward lower console.
There are bottle holders in the doors, a passenger seat rear net and a sunglass holder above the mirror. Rear passengers get pretty good leg room, with rear console air vents and two cup holders in the centre seat armrest.
Cargo space is 451-litres, which expands to 1405 with the 60:40 rear seat folded down. Below cargo floor storage holds the tyre inflation kit and has a partition for the charging cable. The retractable cargo blind conceals your packages.
A single speed reduction gear drives the front wheels, with the electric motor putting out a decent 150kW and 395Nm of torque. The traction battery is 74kWh and rated power usage is 15kWh/100km, which is dependent on temperatures.
The HVAC is powered by the high voltage battery and as such, contributes to power drain. Even while running the air conditioning throughout, we saw small trips use as little as 14kWh/100km.
Eco mode and considered use of the regenerative braking helps mitigate power use. The Niro EV offers audio input USB-A in the lower centre dash flanked by 12v outlet and USB-A charge only port.
Sounds are provided by an eight speaker JBL premium audio system which we rate as very good. It has a subwoofer mounted in the rear cargo area side wall for added audio oomph and offers DAB, AM/FM radio and Bluetooth.
The central 10.25-inch colour LCD infotainment unit has satellite navigation and wired Android and Apple CarPlay. Menu settings for vehicle drive and climate control modes are also accessible from here.
The Niro has single zone air conditioning with central dash mounted control switches. It is fitted with a driver-only setting to minimise power draw from the battery. The supervision 4.2-inch TFT LCD control screen sits centrally between the speedo and range gauges.
Common vehicle information icons are present, including trip information. Steering wheel controls allow switching between EV drive information screens and a power flow animated graphic.
The Niro EV Sport is available in seven colours, including Interstellar Grey (as tested), Aurora Black Pearl, Runway Red, Yacht Blue, Steel Grey and Snow White Pearl. Clear White is the base (free) solid colour and all others are $520 premium paints.
The only interior trim is standard black (or perhaps dark grey), with white stitching. This is accented by deep black door switch and gear selector surrounds with satin silver trims, including chrome inner handles.
The Kia Niro EV is covered by the usual 7-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with one year roadside assistance. The high voltage battery is covered for 7-years or 150,000km while maintaining greater than 70 per cent recharge capacity.
The 2022 Kia Niro EV Sport scores well for safety too, with seven airbags, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and active cruise control with lane keep and follow assist. Range standard auto headlights with high beam assist are also present.
Driver attention alert, and blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert are only available on the Sport. A 5-star ANCAP safety rating was awarded to an earlier version of the NIRO, but electric variants remain untested.
Our testing comprised several journeys between Sydney and Wollongong, which gave us some wide variations for tracking power usage. We averaged around 16kWh/100km over a week of testing. The Kia Niro EV Sport is priced at $71,586 drive away.
While not at the cheaper end of the EV market, it still compares favourably to other offerings with similar range and finish. If you have access to a wall charger at home, or live close to a DC rapid charger, this could be the ideal battery electric vehicle.
You can build and price a new 2022 Kia Niro EV Sport at the Kia Australia website.
Our test vehicle was provided by Kia Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Kia Niro EV Sport, contact your local Kia dealer.