The Kia Niro EV sits in a sweet spot in terms of size, comfort, driveability and value proposition
A joy at the wheel With 395Nm of instant torque, the Niro EV leaves the regular pack in the dust. It has premium amenities such as cordless phone charging and ventilated seats. And as an electric car, it can save $20,000 in fuel expenses over 10 years for its owner. ST PHOT

Astronomers estimate there are as many as 40 billion Goldilocks planets in our galaxy. The fairy-tale term describes planets which orbit not too far and not too near a sun, setting the basis for life.

In the small but fast-expanding electric car universe, the Niro EV from Kia may well be the first Goldilocks model.
It is a compact crossover (currently the best-selling type of car), but is not too compact. In fact, it offers more utility than most of its rivals.
It is, for instance, slightly bigger than the Hyundai Kona, while sitting a tad lower. Its 2,700mm wheelbase is 100mm longer than the Kona's, translating to more legroom for rear occupants.
Even without looking at the specs sheet, it is clear the Niro has a bigger boot. To be precise, it offers 451 litres of stowage, versus the Kona's 332.
The Kia offers plenty of comfort too. Like the Kona, it has the natural quietness and seamlessness of an electric vehicle. But unlike the Kona, it has an extremely civil chassis, which quells all but the most unruly of roads. Its steering, too, is extremely well sorted, offering an effortlessness unattainable by no other in its segment.
SPECS / KIA NIRO EV
Price: $183,999 with COE
Motor: Permanent magnet synchronous powered by 64kWh lithium-ion polymer battery
Transmission: Single-speed with reducer
Power: 204hp at 3,800-8,000rpm
Torque: 395Nm at 0-3,600rpm
0-100kmh: 7.8 seconds
Top speed: 167kmh
Power consumption: 14.7kWh/100km
Agent: Cycle & Carriage Kia
As with most modern Kia cars, the Niro EV is highly equipped, with premium amenities such as cordless phone charging and ventilated seats (probably the best feature for a sizzling place like Singapore).
And it comes with a cool rotary drive control - like what Jaguar Land Rover had, but more chic and more robust.
Like the Kona, it has electric parking brakes with hold function and steering-mounted paddles which control the amount of recuperative braking you desire. Toggle them as you would shift paddles to adapt to traffic conditions. Pulling hard on the left paddle will bring the car to a halt.
The Niro EV is a quick car, although not quite as quick as the Kona. Driven with no regard to economy (Normal drive mode), the car is as entertaining as an Italian sportscar - without the soundtrack, of course.
Driven thus, it posts an economy of 7km per kWh, with a range of just over 420km. This is quite close to the smaller Kona's efficiency of 7.2km per kWh.
The car is a joy at the wheel. With 395Nm of instant torque, it leaves the regular pack in the dust. Its settled ride, which will put some premium cars to shame, and satiny steering add to the enjoyment.
As with most modern electric cars, the Niro's underfloor battery bank acts as a useful ballast to keep the car well planted around corners. There is some body roll and kerb visibility is hindered on inclines, but the car's exceptional roadholding masks these small flaws.
Most importantly, there is room for a family of five, with sufficient space in the cargo area for foldies and prams. An almost flat floor makes second-row accommodation more comfy.
It is pretty impressive on the safety front as well, with seven airbags (including curtain type), blindspot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, which is useful if you are backing out of your driveway or a parking space.
While its sticker price of around $184,000 and annual road tax of $2,246 are on the high side when compared with petrol-powered compact crossovers, they seem more reasonable when compared with 2-litre turbo cars.
This comparison is not without merit, since the Niro EV matches the performance of 2-litre turbos on local roads.
You will also easily save $20,000 in fuel expenses over 10 years and possibly another $5,000 in maintenance (no lubricants, fewer wear-and-tear parts).
And driving it, you will, in a small way, help to preserve Earth's status as a Goldilocks planet.
In the small but fast-expanding electric car universe, the Niro EV from Kia may well be the first Goldilocks model.

It is a compact crossover (currently the best-selling type of car), but is not too compact. In fact, it offers more utility than most of its rivals.

It is, for instance, slightly bigger than the Hyundai Kona, while sitting a tad lower. Its 2,700mm wheelbase is 100mm longer than the Kona's, translating to more legroom for rear occupants.

Even without looking at the specs sheet, it is clear the Niro has a bigger boot. To be precise, it offers 451 litres of stowage, versus the Kona's 332.

The Kia offers plenty of comfort too. Like the Kona, it has the natural quietness and seamlessness of an electric vehicle. But unlike the Kona, it has an extremely civil chassis, which quells all but the most unruly of roads. Its steering, too, is extremely well sorted, offering an effortlessness unattainable by no other in its segment.

As with most modern Kia cars, the Niro EV is highly equipped, with premium amenities such as cordless phone charging and ventilated seats (probably the best feature for a sizzling place like Singapore).

And it comes with a cool rotary drive control - like what Jaguar Land Rover had, but more chic and more robust.

Like the Kona, it has electric parking brakes with hold function and steering-mounted paddles which control the amount of recuperative braking you desire. Toggle them as you would shift paddles to adapt to traffic conditions. Pulling hard on the left paddle will bring the car to a halt.

The Niro EV is a quick car, although not quite as quick as the Kona. Driven with no regard to economy (Normal drive mode), the car is as entertaining as an Italian sportscar - without the soundtrack, of course.

Driven thus, it posts an economy of 7km per kWh, with a range of just over 420km. This is quite close to the smaller Kona's efficiency of 7.2km per kWh.

The car is a joy at the wheel. With 395Nm of instant torque, it leaves the regular pack in the dust. Its settled ride, which will put some premium cars to shame, and satiny steering add to the enjoyment.

As with most modern electric cars, the Niro's underfloor battery bank acts as a useful ballast to keep the car well planted around corners. There is some body roll and kerb visibility is hindered on inclines, but the car's exceptional roadholding masks these small flaws.

Most importantly, there is room for a family of five, with sufficient space in the cargo area for foldies and prams. An almost flat floor makes second-row accommodation more comfy.

It is pretty impressive on the safety front as well, with seven airbags (including curtain type), blindspot detection and rear cross-traffic alert, which is useful if you are backing out of your driveway or a parking space.

While its sticker price of around $184,000 and annual road tax of $2,246 are on the high side when compared with petrol-powered compact crossovers, they seem more reasonable when compared with 2-litre turbo cars.

This comparison is not without merit, since the Niro EV matches the performance of 2-litre turbos on local roads.

You will also easily save $20,000 in fuel expenses over 10 years and possibly another $5,000 in maintenance (no lubricants, fewer wear-and-tear parts).

And driving it, you will, in a small way, help to preserve Earth's status as a Goldilocks planet.