At the Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January 2018, Kia gave an outlook on its electromobility strategy and showed the Niro EV concept vehicle. The battery-electric version of the Niro crossover model is already one of the most popular SUV models in the BAFA statistics. In the meantime, 2020 units of the e-Niro Spirit (model year 3.475) alone have received the environmental bonus (as of July 1, 2021). We are testing the e-Niro 2021 with the large battery pack and the best equipment variant Spirit in an extensive travel test over 3.000 kilometers.
The e-Niro is now entering the 2021 model year with slight upgrades. The electric crossover will continue to be offered with two drive variants. The basic model (100 kW / 136 PS) has a battery capacity of 39,2 kWh and a combined range of up to 289 kilometers. The more powerful version with a 150 kW motor (204 hp), 64 kWh battery and a range of up to 455 kilometers is still the preferred model for medium-haul routes.
Using the fast charging connection (CCS plug), the battery can be charged at a station with 80 kW direct current under optimal conditions in just 54 minutes to 80 percent. Charging with alternating current is carried out more quickly with the optional three-phase on-board charger (10,5 kW).
The extensive test begins with the first long haul from Kiel in the direction of Verona to Italy. The load in the trunk is completely sufficient for a trip with two people. The trunk can be loaded with up to three compact flight cases. The weather conditions in September 2021 are ideal for traveling with an electric car. At daytime temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees, the journey in the first day's stage to Stuttgart will start with a fully charged battery.
3000 km travel test 2021
After the destination has been set, we are informed about the integration of charging stations in the navigation. When searching for the charging stations, however, the filter function can only be used to a limited extent. Only certain providers can be selected for DC charging stations. In any case, it makes more sense to use an additional filter based on the charging capacity offered, so that only the superchargers for a trip without long breaks are displayed during the trip.
On the outward journey, we simply take the IONITY charger directly on the motorway to charge. With a total of three charging stops over 40 minutes each, we reach our destination on Lake Garda. On the last section of the route from Austria to Lake Garda, we achieved a very low consumption of less than 25 kW per 14 km of driving in ECO mode at an outside temperature of 100 degrees.
What distinguishes the e-Niro in the Spirit version for traveling are the assistance packages that increase driving comfort on long motorway journeys. During our journeys, we primarily used adaptive cruise control. An automatic adjustment of the speed to the speed limits is not provided, here you have to readjust manually. The maintenance of the distances and the timely detection of vehicles, even in the case of vehicles pulling out at short notice, went smoothly.
Upgrades in the new model year
The E-Crossover can be used more flexibly for the 2021 model year: the long-haul version with a 64 kWh battery is now designed for a vertical load of 100 kilograms and can optionally be equipped with a trailer coupling, for example to make it easier to transport bicycles. However, towing a trailer is not permitted. This is an interesting feature for transporting bicycles on vacation, during our stay on Lake Garda, cycle tourism has been upgraded with new cycle paths in recent years.
The seating comfort for the front passenger is also increased. The front passenger seat is now electrically adjustable, including lumbar support. During the tour, the seats offer sufficient lateral support and can be easily adjusted using the settings. The adjustable lumbar supports are a practical comfort feature on long tours. UVO Connect can now also be used more extensively. The UVO app can be installed free of charge on compatible Android and Apple smartphones. This allows data to be transferred to and from the vehicle and, for example, planned routes to be sent to the e-Niro's navigation system. This also includes functions that determine the current location of the vehicle, retrieve vehicle reports and diagnostic messages, and monitor or interrupt and continue charging the battery. This function is useful for the use of cheap night electricity tariffs. The “last mile” navigation function guides the driver to the destination address via smartphone: If the ignition is switched off 200 to 2.000 meters away from the destination, a push notification is sent to the UVO app, which ensures that the navigation is then via Google Maps continues.
The basic model with 100 kW / 136 PS electric motor has a battery capacity of 39,2 kWh and costs 38.290 euros, the Spirit top version 41.290 euros. Much more interesting in terms of price-performance ratio is the more powerful version with a 150 kW motor (204 hp) and 64 kWh battery for a range of up to 455 kilometers. Range and travel comfort are clearly in the foreground here. With a price of 42.790 in the basic version and 45.790 in the Spirit version, this model is also in demand as a used car.
Those who value high-quality technical features are well served with the Spirit equipment. The top version Spirit also offers LED headlights, a high-quality premium sound system, an inductive smartphone charging station, a 220-volt socket in the rear, aluminum sports pedals, ambient lighting and privacy glazing (dark tinted windows from the B-pillar) and Parking sensors in front. Further optional extras are two equipment packages with covers in man-made leather. The metallic exterior paintwork has a surcharge of 620 euros. Those who place a little more value on value retention can obtain additional preservation for the engine compartment and vehicle underbody for a moderate surcharge of 135 euros.
What remains of impressions after driving over 3.000 kilometers with the e-Niro: The digital integration of the smartphone is provided with the existing charging connections and the charging cradle directly in the center console below the information display. In our summer test, we achieved real ranges of over 80 kilometers by charging to 300% of the battery capacity. The digital assistance systems offer many comfort features for long journeys.
The Kia e-Niro, model year 2021, has received subtle upgrades. As a medium-haul SUV, it is predestined for longer trips, such as vacation trips to the south. The e-Niro offers a balanced price-performance ratio for one of the few all-electric medium-range SUVs. With the environmental bonus, after deducting the promotional bonuses totaling 9.670 euros, it is well positioned in the competition among the crossover models.
Travel test from summer 2021
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