Driving an all-electric powered vehicle is a first for me.
From someone who gets excited by the smell of octane, big motors and forced induction, how was an all-electric car going to stack up?
The car in question was the Kia Niro EV, and in this case I drove the EX which is the entry model to a three-car line up. It’s fair to say my first experience was interesting.
At first glance I thought the Kia Niro looked clean and subtly futuristic. Climbing into the cabin is easy and you are greeted with nice airy feel with enough buttons to please the tech minds - but in true Kia fashion everything is easy to follow and generally self-explanatory to the untrained eye.
Press the start button and there is the tremendous sound of, well, nothing. The dials light up and after a turn of the very easy gear dial to “D”, your silently making way.
Being electric the drive is so seamless and smooth that it surprises you with instant power at any speed. I absolutely loved the power delivery.
Driving the Kia is pretty impressive. There is no engine noise or gear changes, just the faint sound of the road beneath you and, if listen really carefully, the small hum of the very impressive Permanent Synchronous Electric Motor which will effortlessly deliver 150KW or 395 Nm of torque. Power is no problem here, there is plenty of it.
Whilst driving along and enjoying the outside world through the generously sized windows and listening to your choice of tunes through Kia’s superb infotainment system, there is an impressive maze of cutting-edge technology like something out of Star Trek underneath the metal making the Niro work.
But it is not like driving the Star Ship Enterprise - it’s pleasant and everything just flows.
The Kia Niro needs to be charged from time to time, and has a maximum range of up to 450km. The battery range can depend on everything from temperature, how the car is driven and the A/C settings. There are two ways the Niro can charge up its battery - the first is by simply plugging it in to
one of the many charging stations around New Zealand, and while you’re topping up on coffee and cake, the quick charge time on a 100k/w charger is a little under an hour.
Option two is to charge it at home while you sleep (Kia recommends a surprisingly affordable home charging station).
The other way is regenerative charging using the electric motor. Simply explained, regenerative braking is a way of taking the wasted energy from the process of slowing down a car and using it to recharge the car’s batteries.
You can choose how much energy you want to slow the car by using the paddles located on either side of the steering wheel.
The Kia Niro also boasts a five-star ANCAP safety rating, five-year/100,000km warranty programme, seven-year/160,000kms high voltage battery warranty and five-year/unlimited kms roadside assist (or up to 100,000 km, whichever occurs first).
The Niro starts from $77,990 + ORC for the EX, $78,990 + ORC for the SX and $85,990 + ORC for the Premium. These prices do not include the government rebate for electric vehicles.
My suggestion would be to make some time with one of the sales team at Tauranga Motor Co so they can take you through the nitty gritty of everything that makes this car a cool piece of technology. They can be contacted on: 07 578 1378 or visited at 100 Hewletts Road, Mount Maunganui.