Sustainability and efficiency are headlining features.
Kia has its sights set on building 14 new battery-electric vehicles by 2027, and the all-new Kia Niro EV is one of its first steps toward achieving that aim. Originally revealed late last year, we previously had very limited details on the Niro range. In January, we were given more details on the regular Niro Hybrid, but the PHEV and BEV variants remained somewhat shrouded in mystery. Now, the South Korean automaker has divulged a slew of details on the latter variants, giving us a full look at the Niro before it arrives stateside in 2023.
Unlike the Kia EV6, which is based on a new-generation EV-only platform, the all-new Niro rides on the third generation of Kia's K Platform, shared with the Hyundai Elantra. The new Niro features a 107-inch wheelbase, is 174 inches long, and 72 inches wide, making it slightly larger than the outgoing model.
Hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Niro use a 1.6-liter gas engine and an electric motor paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While the Niro Hybrid produces 139 horsepower combined (the electric motor generates 43 hp), the Niro Plug-In Hybrid uses an 83-hp electric motor to boost total output to 180 hp. The latter model has an all-electric range of 40 miles on the WLTP cycle, which should be around 33 miles based on EPA standards. In these models, the battery is housed under the rear seat.
Interestingly, Kia cut the reverse gear to save weight, relying on reversing the polarity to the electric motor and shaving five pounds in the process. Other efficiency measures include a new Positive Temperature Coefficient heating system to improve electric range in cold conditions by means of self-regulated ceramic elements, while navigation-based drivetrain management will automatically kick the Niro into EV mode in certain "green zones."
The Niro EV represents the biggest improvement over the outgoing model. With a new 64.8-kWh battery, Kia claims 288 miles of range, again on the WLTP cycle. Closer to 200 miles is expected on the EPA test cycles. The K3 platform enables the EV's battery to be housed within the floor. Its electric motors produce 201 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 7.8-second 0-62 mph time and a top speed of 104 mph. The Niro EV supports DC rapid charging, recouping 70% charge (from 10-80%) in 43 minutes, aided by battery pre-conditioning when using the navigation to find a charging station.
Visually, the Niro EV is discernible from its hybrid siblings thanks to a two-tone closed grille design, model-specific lower bumper designs, and exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels. The HEV and PHEV variants receive 16- and 18-inch alloy wheel designs. Nine color choices are being made available to European buyers, but it remains to be seen whether these will all be available in the US.
The Niro's cabin is packed with recycled materials like vegan leather made from Eucalyptus trees and features innovations like a 'relaxion' front passenger seat that can fully recline when stationary. Explaining the interior of the Niro as an extension of living space rather than a "temporary vessel for movement," other features include seat-mounted USB ports for all occupants and slim-design front seats for improved rear legroom.
The off-center dash design and oriented toward the driver for a more convenient reach of controls and displays. A 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster and 10.25-inch touchscreen are standard, supplemented by a ten-inch head-up display. Advanced voice control is also standard.
A slew of advanced features is available, including the vehicle-to-load (V2L) functionality to power devices from the EV's battery, remote smart parking assist, and the full DriveWise suite with forward collision avoidance, Junction Crossing, intelligent speed limit assistance, smart cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and more. US specs will likely follow in the coming months, but expect the all-new Niro lineup to launch for the 2023 model year.