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Kia Niro EV is an urban electric runabout


Kia Niro EV is an urban electric runabout

We moved to the North End of Hamilton in 1984 because we loved the view of Hamilton Harbour, and saw the potential in the rundown Victorian house we bought. We had no idea that the location would one day tick off all the boxes of desirable urban living with access to transit, parks, schools, food and culture.

  One drawback- our house didn’t include a driveway and still doesn’t. Luckily it hasn’t been a problem.  But when electric cars started to arrive on the scene, and auto journalists had access to drive them via manufacturers press fleets, I pondered how we could make that work.

  We couldn’t run a charging cable from the car, across the sidewalk to an outlet, so we had to look to public charging stations.

  EV charging is getting easier. We have charged electric vehicles at the parking garage near Jackson Square, and at McMaster Innovation Park. Both require either a long walk, or a lift to retrieve the car.

Charging stations increasing in the city

   But the situation keeps improving. Now I can walk four blocks to the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority building (HOPA) and use one of four charging ports to recharge. I would suspect with the arrival of all-day Go Service at West Harbour Go, that chargers will be installed in the parking lot there, which is just three blocks from our house.

Free charging stations at the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority building assist EV owners who can’t charge up at home. Kathy Renwald photo

  So my latest electric car test drive was the Kia Niro EV. When I picked it up near Pearson Airport it showed a range of 402 kilometres, the official range supplied by Kia is 385 km on a full charge. 

  I had the Niro for a full week. On day six I decided to park it at the HOPA building for an overnight recharge. It still had 140 kilometres of range left. I drove it pretty much like a normal car, running the air conditioning, driving in a Normal mode setting, and not trying to maximize battery life by using extreme driving methods. That’s a very liveable performance. Had I used the rengenerative braking process more to help charge the battery, the range would have improved.

  Using the Level 2 charger at the HOPA building would recharge the Niro in about nine hours. The state of charge can be monitored remotely by using a dedicated app made by Kia called UVO.

Kia says most drivers travel less than 50 km in a day

   Kia’s research has shown that 79% of Canadian car owners drive less than 50 kms on an average day.  The Niro would be a very suitable vehicle for the majority of the car driving mob.

  What is the Niro? It’s a practical, pudgy runabout. A compact crossover with modest styling, good storage room, lots of tech features, and drive quality that will satisfy a wide range of buyers.  It starts at $44,995, my test car, the SX Touring priced out at $54,499. The upgraded trim level adds a sunroof, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, lane keeping assist, blind spot detection and an upgraded sound system.

The range of the Kia Niro EV is about 385 km. After a week of driving I had still have power to spare. Kathy Renwald photo

  Did I love it enough to spend over 50 grand? No.

  First off, if you want to test  a car’s ride quality-Hamilton is the place to do it. Our roads are atrocious. Potholes, craters, cracks, tar strips toss vehicles around like gum in a gumball machine. With a repaving schedule that is on the same lengthy arc as Halley’s Comet, the roads will improve at about the time we have flying cars.

Hamilton’s rustic roads challenge the Kia Niro EV

  So the Kia Niro, like so many smaller vehicles will be challenged by the chewed up asphalt. It will bobble and buck when the going gets rough. Add to that the leaden, heavy steering, and you have a drive that will make some drivers weary.

  The cabin, while spacious and well laid out, is noisy, and the dash on the driver’s side is coated in a shiny material that reflects a lot of the passing scenery. It’s a bit distracting. But the entertainment system is easy to use, the seats are comfortable, and the horsepower from a stop is lusty like all EV’s. The charging port is cleverly disguised in the front.

  Overall I felt neutral about the Niro EV. I liked the Chevy Bolt EV better, and there are more EV competitors to choose from in the same price range. With manufacturers coming out with new EV’s at a torrid pace, and government rebates helping with the purchase price, expect to see more EV’s bobbing around Hamilton.

Compare the Kia Niro to the Chevy Bolt

See more specs for the Kia Niro

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