In this review, I will discuss what is good and bad about the Kia Niro EV 2023 after more than three months of ownership. Note that this is based on the Level 4 Trim, received in the UK January 2023.
I will also mention charging. Spoiler alert, by far the cheapest way and the thing that makes the EV feasible is charging at home using Octopus Energy Intelligent Tariff.
UPDATE 22 September 2023 - Note that the Intelligent tariff does not support Kia Niro EV, so I will be switching to Octopus Go tariff. Please use my referral code neat-bee-361 to receive £50 credit. Here is the message that I received:
Octopus Energy Wed, 13 Sept, 16:37 (9 days ago) to me Hi Hywel, Apologies for the delay in getting back to you. Unfortunately at the moment there is an issue with compatibility between Kia EVs and Intelligent Octopus. We are currently working with Kia in hopes that a firmware update will allow Kia vehicles to be compatible with Intelligent again, but for the moment we are unable to get Intelligent working for customers with Kia EVs. I apologise for the confusion caused by this and I understand this may be frustrating. We hope to be able to offer Intelligent Octopus for Kia EV owners again soon! Do let me know if you have any further questions regarding this. Kind regards, Emma 🐙
Overall, as a family needing a good amount of usable space, without feeling out of place on UK roads, the Kia Niro EV 2023 vs MG4 or Tesla Model Y was the right choice for us.
Kia Niro EV 2023 - What is Good?
I feel that the Kia Niro has gone under the radar somewhat, being overshadowed by the likes of Tesla Model Y and Hyundai Ioniq 5.
Good - Size & Turning Circle / Radius
For a family of four, living in rural UK on the outskirts of London where the roads and car parks are narrow, most other ‘family’ EV cars in are just too big for day-to-day.
As an example, the Tesla Model Y has a turning circle of 12.1m compared to the Kia Niro EV’s 10.6m. This makes a huge difference on UK roads, especially in central London.
The car itself also doesn’t feel like I’m driving a bus, the Kia Niro Ev is 4.42m in length, compared to the Kia EV6 being 4.68m, Tesla Model Y 4.75m and Hyundai Ioniq 5 4.63m.
You might think that the MG MG4 or Volkswagen ID3 would have been in the running for practicality, particularly as they have similar or smaller turning circles, and you are rightm particularly as the MG4 is priced lower versus the Kia. However, both the MG4 and ID3 failed our trunk / boot space needs.
Good - Luggage Capacity - Trunk / Boot Space
The boot space on the MG MG4 is only 363 litres, which is similar to the Volkswagen ID3 of 385 litres. Whereas, the Kia Niro EV has a capacity of 475 litres and a nice and square large opening.
Interestingly, though the Kia EV6 has a bigger boot of 480 litres, I found the shape of the opening not so practical. Reference for luggage capacity. The headroom also feels better in the back seats of the Kia Niro EV compared to the EV6, because of the Niro’s more boxy shape.
We had a relatively unique ask of a car, which EV can carry a pedal harp? In fact, as part of a test drive, we took the car into central London to a harp shop to ensure a harp would fit!
Good - Vehicle to Load
I really like the idea of the car being a mobile battery.
In the UK, as of 2023, there are surprisingly few EV cars having an ability to use the battery to charge other things. I was surprised that neither Tesla nor Volkswagen have this feature available. Note that Volkswagen have mentioned making this available, but yet to make it real. See bidirectional-cars-2023 for a list of cars with bi-directional charging as of January 2023.
The Kia Niro EV (level 3 and 4 trim in UK) come with this option, which effectively provides a 3-pin 250 volt plug as standard, allowing drivers to power appliances directly from the car, with a maximum load up to 3.6kW.
This has been useful for plugging a laptop into the internal plug, located below the rear seats, giving a mobile office.
I am really looking forward to using the external bi-directional vehicle to load (v2l) in the winter to power my laundry tumble dryer. I just wish that I could power my entire home. With a 64kWh battery, the Kia Niro EV could power my home for almost a week.
Good - Driver Assist
One of the best things about the car is it makes driving on the motorway. This is because of the many driver asists most notably, the heads up display, highway assist cruise control and built-in navigation with live traffic data.
In fact, after a 200 mile journey to Wales on the M4, I needed to remind myself that I was actually the driver, when eventually I came off the motorway.
As a fun driver assist, the remote park assist could be useful if you have a small garage.
Kia Niro EV 2023 - What is Bad?
Like most new, more premium that it expensive cars, they suffer from having too much technology. Sometimes, a button is better, and if there is a button, it should do what it says, and the human driver should be more in control, not the car!
Electric cars could be really simple, but somehow they’re not, and the Kia Niro EV is no exception. If you find your mobile phone frustrating, just try an EV!
Bad - Driver Assist
The car is constantly beeping and pulls the steering wheel if it thinks that my driving is not up to scratch. In the UK, with our narrow road lanes , the lane keep assist gets really annoying very quickly, and can make it harder to drive safely. It is often a relief to get into an older car without any ‘driver assistance’ technology.
Bad - Heating and Range in Cold Weather
It is well known that the range of an EV drops in cold weather, but my Kia Niro EV, specified with a £900 optional heat pump as of May 2023 travelled only 200 miles on a full charge in January on a trip to Wales averaging 3.1miles/kWh. Granted, most of this was motorway driving, but given the claimed up to 285 mile range, I was disappointed. I’m not convived that the heat pump has any noticable effect on improving range.
Between January 31 and May 13 2023 (102 days), the milage covered has been 3921 miles, with an average usage of 3.8 miles /kWh.
As of May 2023, it is worth noting that the average miles per kilowatt-hour is now more like 4.1. Temperature has a huge impact on range of EVs in 2023. Between 7th May and 13 May (6 days), since the last charge, the Kia Niro EV 2023 mileage covered was 109 miles, averaging 4.5 miles /kWh.
Also, when setting the desired internal temperature to 20-27 degrees Celsius, the car sometimes does not heat at all, even after 20 minutes of cold air being blown, which is not nice when it’s cold outside.
This might be a fault with the specific car, but the only way to make the heating work consistently seems to be through using the ‘auto climate’ button. Apparently, just ‘setting the temperature’ is not enough.
Bad - Home Charging Efficiency - why it costs more?
When charging at home using a 7kWh charger, the best efficiency I have achieved is 88%. To make that clear, for every 1kWh added to the car, it takes 1.14kWh of energy.
To achieve this efficiency, I needed to charge the battery from 40% to 80%, with the battery pre-conditioning turned off.
In fact when charging the battery from 67% to 79% in February 2023, the Kia Niro EV 2023 wasted 40% of the energy. This seems wrong. I even tweeted at Kia UK.
I really think that car manufacturers should improve this, and like when buying a fridge, cars should have a rating to indicate its charging efficiency as well as its range efficiency.
Bad - Glitches
There are driver profiles that can be set in the car. Sometimes, randomly, the car seems to get these ‘mixed up’ and the only way to recover is by using a pointy thing to reset the entertainment system.
Cheapest way to Charge Kia Niro EV 2023 - Octopus Energy and Electroverse
In my opinion, without a driveway and 7kWh home charger, it would not be financially practical to own an EV in 2023.
Using Octopus Energy and their Intelligent EV tariff, the car (and home) can use electricity at a rate of 7.5p/ kWh between 23:30 and 05:30 (as of May 2023)
Also, when using their Electroverse app, the bill is consolidated along with my home energy making it simple. Best of all, most EV chargers through Electroverse offer an 8% discount for an Intelligent Octopus user.
Get £50 credit when you sign up to Octopus Energy using my referral. A disclosure that I will also receive £50.
Get £25 when you sign up to Octopus Electroverse using my referral and you complete one charge. A disclosure that I will also receive £25.