The compact crossover with a striking design is the bestseller in KIA’s electric range in this country. And rightly so? That’s what we set out to test on a weekend trip from Munich to the Salzkammergut region. This much in advance: The spacious Niro EV is fun to drive and a reliable and economical all-round companion – and not just for summer holidays in the land of lakes, salt and mountains. A report by Sabine Metzger in the current eMove360° magazine in german language.
Design: United opposites and aerodynamic C-pillar
First of all, let’s take a look at the exterior: The design of the second Niro generation is based on the new Kia philosophy “Opposites United” and combines elegant smooth surfaces and robust character traits. The typical “tiger face” now extends across the entire width of the front, with the LED daytime running lights in the form of a “heartbeat curve” at the side. It is distinguished from its hybrid variants primarily in the front view by the closed two-tone grille, the independent bumper design and the charging port in the center of the front. In the side view, the “Aero” C-pillars, which are also available in contrasting color (equipment-dependent) and whose contour is emphasized by boomerang-shaped LED taillights, are particularly eye-catching. Why Aero? The pillars contain air ducts that contribute to the model’s excellent aerodynamics (cW value Niro EV: 0.286).
Interior: Spacious and sustainable
We climb in and set our sights on its interior virtues. You sit comfortably, slightly elevated in the crossover with a good overview. The generous amount of space results from the new “K” platform generation and the front seats, which are around 30 percent slimmer and significantly increase legroom in the rear. The volume of the luggage compartment has increased by 24 liters in the Niro EV. Practical: the foldable cover, which can also be used as a sunshade and is made of recycled PET plastic fabric.
In its choice of materials – the mix is a bit too wild for my taste – KIA is increasingly relying on the use of recycled materials: For example, the headliner is predominantly made of recycled paper fibers, and bio-polyurethane (bio-PU) with Tencel ® from eucalyptus leaves is used for the leather reproduction of the seat covers.
Ease of use: Not the first time
The integrated panorama display with the two 26-cm (10.25-inch) displays of the fully digital instrument cluster and the navigation system, which includes the Kia Connect online services, is the central element in the cockpit. We don’t find out right away that the so-called multi-mode control unit below the touchscreen is the access to the infotainment system and automatic climate control functions. This separate bar on the center console has two different basic settings. In one, the air conditioning and heating functions can be operated via touch icons. In the other, the higher-level menu structure appears on the screen for selection: Map/Navigation, Radio/Media or even Setup.
Acceleration: Brisk and powerful
We drive the A8 Munich towards Salzburg. Even on our side road we notice: The Niro accelerates briskly and powerfully enough when it matters when merging at junctions or overtaking. It takes just 3.6 seconds to go from 60 to 100 km/h. For acceleration from a standstill to 100 km/h, Kia counts a value of 7.8 seconds. The top speed is 168 km/h – that’s of course quite enough for everyday use, but on an A8 with an almost clear road between Irschenberg and Weyarn you’d want more. We like the agile, pleasant handling and good driving stability of the Niro EV. The two shift paddles on the steering wheel can be used to preselect the power of the braking processes through recuperation, depending on what the driver wants at the time.
Standard: Lots of helpers
Our test car is the only “Inspiration” model currently available and already comes almost fully equipped as standard: navigation-based adaptive cruise control, highway assist, front collision warning with turn-off function, active lane departure warning, lane departure warning, intelligent speed assist, drowsiness warning and high beam assist. There are also optional highway assist II with lane change assist, advanced front collision warning with cross-traffic and oncoming traffic detection (when changing lanes), active blind spot assist, exit assist and remote park assist for remote-controlled parking and backing out.
Charging stop: High range
A range of 460 kilometers is a good claim. On our tour, we realistically got around 410 kilometers. Which is also very good. At an 80-kW fast-charging station, the battery can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in just 45 minutes under optimal conditions, and the new standard battery preconditioning contributes to maximum charging efficiency. Also standard are a 3-phase on-board charger that accelerates AC charging and a battery preheating system. The optional V2D function turns the charging port into a powerful 220-volt mobile power source (up to 3 kW) using an adapter. The Kia Charge charging service can be used to access stations on the Ionity fast-charging network as well as the more than 450,000 public charging points on the DCS network, including nearly all DC and AC charging points in Germany.
Cruising: Touring the Salzkammergut in Eco mode
Economically, we select the Eco level (in addition to normal, Sport and Snow) and cruise along the country road toward Fuschlsee, the emerald-green gateway to the Salzkammergut region. Motorboats are absolutely prohibited on the lake. Which gives it drinking water quality. If you feel like it, you can hike around the lake and then enjoy fresh char or oven-warm smoked fish on simple wooden tables and benches at the Schlossfischerei zu Schloss Fuschl. Of course, you can also do this without hiking as an “aperitif”.
Our next destination is the Wolfgangsee. Already my great-grandparents were enthusiastic about the deep green lake, idyllically embedded in a forest, meadow and mountain landscape. In memoriam of the operetta “Im weißen Rössl am Wolfgangsee” we feast on a Viennese iced coffee on the hotel terrace and consider taking the steepest cog railroad in Austria to the 1783 meter high summit of the Schafberg. My great-grandparents had done that, too. We postpone it and head for Bad Ischl. Franz Joseph I and Empress Sisi regularly spent their summer holidays in the imperial villa. Afterwards, those with a sweet tooth pay a visit to the famous Zauner confectionery and nibble on a Zaunerkipferl. Afterwards, it’s time for a swim in one of the warmest bathing lakes in the Salzkammergut, Lake Mondsee, an ideal spot for all water rats, sailors and stand-up paddlers. Our stop before heading home: The Drachenwand (www.drachenwand.at) below the mountain massif of the same name provides culinary WOW moments with cider, a Brettljause (snack) and Eispalatschicken (ice cream) before heading back to Munich. Hotel tip: www.emove360.com/travelguide.de