South Korean carmaker Kia has launched a three-pronged approach to the “electrification” of the Australian auto market, declaring that its popular Niro is presently accessible with an all-electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid powertrain after a deferral of over a year.
The new Kia Niro is the first SUV in Australia to offer three choices of proficient drivetrain: a normal hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric. It’s likewise the brand’s first electric model down under and carries some required competition to showroom floors for car purchasers.
In an online event this week, Kia Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith and general manager of product planning Roland Rivero said the Niro vehicles are accessible for order and deliveries will start one week from now.
Pricing for the all-electric Niro, which will be known as the Niro EV in Australia under the HEV (hybrid) and PHEV (plug-in hybrid) was additionally uncovered.
Kia is adopting a competitive strategy to its pricing against other famous players in the EV market. Eminently, the base Niro EV undercuts the recently cut cost of the Tesla Model 3 by $400 to begin at $62,590 before on-roads (drive away pricing is $67,490).
Pricing likewise adjusts intimately with its South Korean competitor, the Kona EV what begins from $62,000 before on-roads for the recently divulged 2021 refresh model.
Notwithstanding the base Niro S EV, Kia is likewise making a Sport trim accessible, priced from $65,990 before on-roads and $70,990 drive away.
Pricing for the hybrid and PHEVs start at $41,990 drive away for the Niro S HEV and range up to $53,990 drive away for the Niro Sport PHEV.
The delay of the launch – which was initially scheduled to coincide with the 2020 Australian Tennis Open – was covered by Rivero, who additionally noticed the role that Australia’s absence of CO2 targets has needed to play in getting Niro EV inventory for Australia.
“It’s a milestone that we’ve longed for, for a while now, but took a little bit longer than expected due to strong global demand exceeding production capacity,” said Rivero.
“Surely, in that situation, it’s understandable that (vehicles) were prioritized for regions with CO2 regulations and tax penalties.”
The decision to bring three powertrains to the Australian market – echoing Hyundai’s methodology with the Ioniq fastback – is because, Rivero says, “We understand that policy drivers aren’t all the same and one type of green car tech doesn’t necessarily fit all.”
Kia seems to be on the front foot to appeal to drivers who are of the misconception sustained on Monday by energy minister Angus Taylor that since Australia is a large country, anybody living external the inner city will require a similarly large battery.
Hence, it is (likewise like Hyundai) just bringing the bigger 64kWh battery Niro EV, which will offer around 450km driving range on a single charge, to Australia. There is additionally a shorter range (and more moderate) electric Niro which Rivero said Kia should seriously think about if customer interest demands it.
All things considered, the 64kWh Niro EV guarantees a punchy drive. Its permanent magnetic electric motor delivers 150kW power and 395Nm torque and it has three drive modes: eco, normal, and sport.
“Being on the driver’s circumstances, or in my case patience, those wanting to drive spiritedly on the open road can choose the red backlit sport mode and the throttle sharpens up and the steering lights up, you can actually fling the mirror around with unexpected punch for an eco-minded family car,” says Rivero.
“I find that even in normal mode there are no issues with merging with faster traffic or tackling a motorway drive and for bumper-to-bumper traffic, peak hour, you really don’t need to come out of eco mode.”
Driving and suspension
With the Kia Niro EV, drivers get the choice between three levels of regenerative braking as well as a shortcut to one-pedal driving through paddles behind the steering wheel.
The paddles can be utilized to one or the other increment or diminishing the resistance while driving to expand energy recovery, while a long press on the correct paddle will make the vehicle scan traffic and pick the appropriate level for you. Execute a long push on the left paddle and one-pedal mode will kick in, making the vehicle delayed down to a stop at whatever point the foot is removed from the accelerator.
As a result of delays to market because of Covid, Kia says it couldn’t perform local suspension tuning, yet that the standard European suspension will still deliver fun and stable drive.
Aerodynamic elements incorporate underbody styling to lessen drag as well as an “active air flap” behind the front grille and the back spoiler. This gives the Niro EV an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.29, not awful for an SUV.
Tragically, albeit the European specced e-Niro can be updated over the air, this capacity isn’t accessible for the Australian model.
Likewise, Kia has not struck any deals for free complimentary driving, yet guarantees that every one of its dealerships currently has chargers installed. For those wanting to take advantage of the Niro EV’s 100kW maximum charge rate, there are a lot of charging options including proprietary networks like Chargefox and Evie Networks as well as an array of car club chargers.
Charging at the top DC rate of 100kW will recharge the Niro EV in less than an hour utilizing a CCS2 plug while charging at home or on a destination charger at a top rate of 7.2kW will renew an empty battery in less than 10 hours.
The PHEV has a top AC charge rate of 3.3kW which can recharge its smaller batteries to 100% from zero in 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Style and space
Inside, Kia has strived to continue to style clean – albeit still traditional contrasted and the Tesla Model 3. Drivers will track down the flush touchscreen and floating console add to the sense of spaciousness.
The underfloor battery implies there is oodles of space for the two travelers and luggage contrasted with its hybrid cousins, and Kia has prioritized space for both the EV and the PHEV over adding a spare tire, which comes standard with the hybrid.
All models are accessible in white, black, red, pearl, and silver, while those picking the EV variant can likewise go for “a deep “yacht” blue. The HEV and PHEV variations are likewise accessible in graphite, deep cerulean blue, and orange.
The hybrid and PHEV are basically similar vehicles: additions for the PHEV are a secondary battery under the boot to compliment the primary battery that accompanies the hybrid under the back seat, and obviously a charging port.
The hybrid obviously can’t be plugged in but with a motor and battery to support the 1.6-liter engine and recover energy will use a minuscule 1.3 liters per 100km as indicated by Kia.
The plug-in hybrid can drive up to 58km on pure electric power, which implies for the average daily commute it is feasible to not use fuel at all even though Rivero noticed that the heavy-footed may experience the engine kicking in any event, when there is a lot of battery charge.
Kia suggests that if your main mode of driving the PHEV is pure electric (as it ought to be), that 60% of the fuel be used every six months to guarantee it doesn’t go old.
All variants have an unlimited kilometer warranty with 7-year capped price servicing, except for the EV’s the motor and battery which are covered by a 7-Year 150,000km warranty.
How’s the Exterior?
The Niro slots straight into the Kia showroom and doesn’t bring any conceivably polarizing or far-out looks. It is really around five years old in its lifecycle and is showing up in Australia somewhat later than when it launched in Europe, yet a few updates refresh the appearance, and surprisingly the base S rides on decent 16-inch alloys, regardless of whether the bigger 18s look the part.
It is the completely electric version that looks stands out most in the Niro lineup on account of it not needing a ventilated grille. Instead, the grille is closed in for aerodynamic and in this way proficiency gains, addition to there is some bright blue piping around the fascia to stand out that little bit more. On this PHEV, we have a standard grille since it uses a petrol engine as well as a small electric motor.
How’s the Interior?
The general feel inside is certainly that of Kia’s standardized design, with a familiar gearshift, dash, and steering wheel. It’s all a good thing given it’s practical and simple to live in a cabin. Integration of the display is pleasantly done as well, and the instrument cluster for the PHEV incorporates a small digital display and unique tachometer that is eco-focused.
For the driver, the steering wheel is leather-wrapped and the eight-way electric seat with a lumbar support has a firm yet agreeable feel underneath. The Sport additionally gets a more pleasant leather upholstery with perforation and alloy pedals over the rubber items. Dual-zone digital climate control is additionally offered in Sport spec only.
In the second row, the foot space is moderately huge because of the generous 2700mm wheelbase and the width for two grown-ups in the back is fine. There are likewise isoFIX anchor points and adequate space for a rear-facing baby seat to fit snuggly. Headroom is genuinely high as well, so tall travelers will wouldn’t mind yet because of the PHEV’s bigger battery (over the hybrid) being situated under the boot, the boot is a more modest 324L.
How safe is the Kia Niro?
The Kia Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid were awarded a Euro-NCAP five-star rating in 2016, which compares to a local five-star ANCAP that is current. In any case, the electric version is untested, however, it rides on comparative underpinnings yet with a heavy battery underneath.
Regardless, all Kia Niro models accompany seven airbags, AEB with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane departure warning with keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and lane follow assist. The Sport models add blind-spot monitoring and back cross-traffic, with LED headlights that have auto-high beams.
How’s the Infotainment?
The main difference between S and Sport inside for many will be the size of the infotainment screen, which measures 8.0-inches in S and 10.25-inches in the flagship. It’s a move you see in other Kia models and like with say the Sorento, the bigger screen is better. That doesn’t mean the 8.0-inch isn’t acceptable, like its Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and size is all enough for most, yet the bigger screen looks more pleasant and comes pre-loaded with sat-nav.
All things considered, you actually get a sat-nav using a connected Apple or Android phone, which is wired through the USB port underneath.
What engines are available?
While the Niro EV gets rid of any kind of combustion power, the Niro PHEV and Hybrid utilize a similar 1.6-liter GDI petrol engine (the Kappa motor), creating 77kW and 147Nm on its own. Power is shipped off the front wheel exclusively via a dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission where a small electric motor creating an extra 44.5kW and 170Nm augments total output to 104kW and 265Nm.
Energy is fed to the electric motor from an 8.9kWh 360volt lithium-ion battery, which is a lot bigger than the ordinary hybrid’s battery.