Yesterday at the LA Auto Show, Kia unveiled a newer and funkier Soul. Along with it was a new electric Soul EV. But that's not all that Kia had in-store. Kia also brought the new Niro EV to a North American auto show for the first time.
The Niro has been out for a while now in hybrid form, and will finally arrive as a fully-electric model. Kia Canada confirmed both are coming north of the border, but can't say when it and the electric Soul will show up at dealerships here. In the US, both will reportedly hit the market in the first quarter of 2019.
The Niro is a more mainstream model than the Soul. Not just because of the less funky, though still handsome, exterior, but because it's bigger. Since the Niro EV rides on the same 2,700 mm wheelbase as the Niro hybrid, it's 130 mm longer between the wheels than the Soul.
Powering the Niro EV is a 64 kWh lithium-ion battery. That's big power for a small crossover. On the new WLTP cycle, it's rated at 484 km. That's an impressive figure for that size battery. North American range figures aren't available yet, but the Hyundai Kona EV uses a same-size pack and gets a 482 km WLTP range and a 415 km EPA range. So expect the Niro EV to be at around 417 km when it arrives here. Expect the smaller and lighter Soul EV to get similar or even slightly higher range, since it uses the same battery pack and electric motor.
Moving the Niro EV is a 201 hp electric motor that produces 291 lb-ft of torque.
The Niro EV can charge in 9.5 hours on a Level 2 connection, or it can use a Combined Charging System 100 kW protocol and take an 80-percent charge in 75 minutes. That allows for about 160 km of range in 30 minutes.
Kia has given the Niro EV some styling changes to set it apart from the hybrid. Like getting rid of the main grille, for a start. The new front fascia is closed off, since there's no radiator to chill. It also gets new arrowhead LED running lights, a blue surround for the lower intake, and other blue trim bits. There are reshaped rocker panels and special low-drag wheels.
nside, it has a rotary shift dial, customizable mood lighting, and a center console with three USB ports. There will be EV-only upholstery with blue highlights and special holographic door trim.
The Niro will have Eco, Normal, Sport, and Eco+ modes that adjust not just throttle response, but regenerative braking levels, AC and heat settings, and even set speed limits to increase efficiency. A brake and hold feature allows the vehicle to be brought to a stop using just regeneration.
The new Niro EV also gets a new version of Kia's UVO telematics system. It lets owners use their smartphone to get charging and battery updates, schedule charging, send points of interest to the nav system, and set the cabin temperature before getting to the car.