Waiting for the all-new Kia Sportage and the next Kia Niro? This is the ultimate comparison of the all of upcoming EVs from Kia. We compare the upcoming 2023 Kia Sportage and 2023 Kia Niro against the new benchmark, Kia EV6!
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If you recall, we have reported previously that the next generation Kia Niro, which will replace the current model shortly, would no longer offer the popular EV variant.
We cited Spanish portal Motor.ES and various Korean media with regards to this unfortunate speculation. And as more spy photos are being taken all over the globe of the impending 2nd generation compact crossover, there is now more evidence that might be pointing to the demise of the over-achieving compact Kia Niro EV.
The Next Niro to be Based on the Habaniro Concept
Kia Niro EV is the model that put Kia on the map as one of the go-to brands when it came to purchasing an electric vehicle is concerned, as it was the Niro EV or e-Niro as it’s known in Europe, that has given Kia the honor of earning the highest customer satisfaction ranking for a mass-market electric vehicle according to JD Power. The affordable EV that achieves 239-miles or 385-km EPA rated range and 0-60 mph in around 6-seconds, stole the hearts of many new EV buyers and firmly established itself as the new benchmark in its class.
In fact, the compact EV from Kia was often praised as one of the few EV’s that actually exceeds the published range as it wasn’t unusual for the owners to report real-life ranges up 300 miles! This is due to Niro EV’s large for its size, 64-kWh high-density, lithium-ion polymer battery pack combined with its highly efficient motor that produces 201-hp and stout 291 lb-ft of torque. To put it in perspective, the 64-kWh battery pack is actually larger than the standard range Kia EV6 that’s powered by a 58-kWh battery.
Also, Niro EV actually packs more power than the entry-level single-motor EV6 model that only comes with 168-hp and 258 lb-ft of torque and outpace the more expensive EV6’s acceleration time of 8.5 seconds by nearly 1.5-seconds. Niro EV achieves these monumental accolades by weighing in 265 lbs or 120 kg less at 2935 lbs or 1785 kg compared to EV6’s hefty 4155 lbs or 1885 kg while providing 7 cu ft or 500-liter more of cargo space at 53 cu ft or 1800 liters versus 46 cu ft or 1300 liters for EV6. And at the end of the day, Kia Niro EV will actually be $5000 to $6000 cheaper at less than $40,000 when compared to the EV6’s estimated starting price of $45,000.
Understanding this inevitability, it appears that Kia has wisely chosen to discontinue the electric version and focused on creating a new image and identity for the next generation hybrid-only Niro. And that identity is a fun and funky crossover car as conceptualized in the Habaniro concept.
So, you wonder why anyone in the right mind would choose the EV6 over the electrified Niro. Well, there are lots, apparently. In the native Korean market, the electrified versions of Niro and the sister car Hyundai Kona sales have plummeted by nearly 50% since the introduction of the new Kia EV6 and the platform-sharing Hyundai IONIQ 5 dedicated electric crossovers, according to a prominent Korean News Media, MK’s article dated May 2, 2021. Mind you though, the overseas sales of such derivative electric vehicles such as Niro EV, Kona E, and Soul EV are still going strong in Europe and North America as they are becoming more popular. However, the same newspaper predicted that as more dedicated EV’s are introduced, people’s propensity to lean towards the newer technology products will increase, and will signal the end of the otherwise very popular older-tech electric cars.
Understanding this inevitability, it appears that Kia has wisely chosen to discontinue the electric version and focused on creating a new image and identity for the next generation hybrid-only Niro. And that identity is a fun and funky crossover car as conceptualized in the Habaniro concept. Habaniro was revealed at the 2019 New York International Auto Show to showcase Kia’s direction for the SUV of the future as a youthful brand.
To address perhaps Niro’s biggest shortcoming, which is its rather plain vanilla appearance, Habaniro featured a stunning design with butterfly doors, a red-hot interior, and technology of the future. Furthermore, with its tough-looking front end and skid plate, HabaNiro is at home both on and off-road. And most of the design cues, as well as technology are expected to find their way to the new Niro, save for the crazy butterfly doors of course.
These include a head-up display with augmented reality navigation, and the heat pump which reduces the effect of cold weather would have on the range of an electric vehicle, 2 key features that have already found a home in the new Kia EV6 as well as Ioniq 5. The new Niro will also feature the e-AWD technology which combines the engine in the front with an electric motor in the rear to deliver a sophisticated all-wheel-drive experience thanks to D-A-S or disconnector actuator system that distributes power evenly and seamlessly between the front and rear axles to deliver optimal efficiency and performance, that not only aids in the adverse road conditions and in incremental weather, but improves traction for performance-oriented driving on-road.
Also shared with EV6 will be the advanced level-2 driver’s assistance feature called HDA2 or Highway Driving Assist 2 that’s claimed to be better than Tesla’s Autopilot, and nearing level-3 autonomy, which is virtually self-driving. Furthermore, the all-new Niro will share much of the technology found in the upcoming 5th generation Kia Sportage. This is because the all-new Niro will be based on the Sportage, which is in turn based on the newly released 4th generation Hyundai Tucson. Therefore, Niro will share its bigger platform sharing Sportage’s standard features like automatic emergency braking, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, smart parking assist, and automatic high beams. Available safety features will include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go functionality and blind-spot braking intervention.
The 5th-generation Kia Sportage (NQ5)
In addition to the technical features the platform sharing Kia Sportage and Kia Niro will also share most of the mechanicals, these include a hybrid engine with a turbocharged 1.6-liter inline-four-cylinder engine with a 44.2-kW electric motor, and a 1.49-kWh battery pack for a total output of 230 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and a plug-in hybrid engine, which uses the same 1.6-liter turbo engine but has a more powerful 66.9-kW electric motor and a larger 13.8-kWh battery-pack to produce a total of 261-hp and 258-lb ft of torque that is capable achieving 35 miles or 56 km of pure electric range, needing 2-hours to charge using the level-2 charger. Both hybrid powerplants are mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
In the case of Sportage, however, the perennial best-seller Kia also receives the base 2.5-liter normally aspirated 4-cylinder engine good for 190-hp and 182-lb ft of torque mated to 8-speed automatic transmission. Also, for Europe, there is to be a myriad of mild hybrid options on gasoline and diesel engines. Furthermore, unlike Niro, it’s expected that the new Sportage will offer an electric version as well. This might be a shocking move for Kia to discontinue the popular Niro EV, but as Sportage is a bigger and more versatile platform that caters to much broader demographics, and it already has hundreds of thousands of loyal fanbase that it has amassed, in over nearly 30-years of history that would stay within the familiar Sportage realm and try on the electrified Sportage before jumping ship to an entirely new dedicated electric vehicles such as the EV6. As a point of reference, the sales of Kia Niro did not exceed 100,000 units in 4 years since its introduction, but Kia Sportage sells over 80,000 units in just one year. So, it’s not surprising that Kia has chosen Sportage to be the torch-bearer for the derivative electric crossover, as the mass-market Sportage EV would definitely give a higher chance of success over the more niche market Niro.
800V E-GMP Based Kia EV6
Although no official information on the specification of the Sportage EV is released, we expect the next-generation pure electric powerplant to exceed that of the current Niro EV’s, and nearly matches that of the E-GMP-based EV6’s specifications. This notion is confirmed by the Hyundai group’s latest derivative electric Genesis duo G80e and GV70e, which will offer 800V architecture similar to that of E-GMP’s. Although it doesn’t charge as fast as the dedicated version that could charge to 80% in just 18 minutes, it still manages impressive 22 minutes, which is similar to the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT’s time of 22.5 minutes. So, chances are the electrified Sportage will most likely share the same 800V technology to offer similar blazing charging speed. Although it may not offer electrified G80 and GV70’s dual-motor 384-hp, and a huge 87.2kWh battery pack good for 310 miles or 500 km range, we anticipate that the electrified Sportage would offer similar performance as the long-range EV6 with the total output of about 230 to 250 hp good for 0-60 in just under 6-seconds. The battery packs would grow in capacity to 70 kWh range and return a maximum range of about 250 miles or 400 km officially.
This figure may be a little short compared to that of the top-echelon EV6 has to offer at 316 miles or 510 km, but Kia Sportage expected to outclass EV6 in terms of the interior volume. The new Sportage will have cargo space of nearly 80 cu ft or 2,265-liters compared to EV6’s 46 cu ft or 1,300-liters when the second row is folded. This is due to Sportage’s traditional upright SUV body shape as opposed to EV6’s sleek coupe-like profile, despite the fact that EV6 boasts 114.2 inches or 2,900 mm of super-long wheelbase versus Sportage’s 108.5 inches or 2,756 mm.
In fact, even the new Niro is expected to be bigger inside compared to EV6. Although the new Niro will not be as big as Sportage inside as the new Niro will also feature a sleeker coupe-like roofline, it should grow in size from its current 106.3 inches of the wheelbase or 2700 mm to a length similar to that of Sportage. We expect the cargo capacity to grow to about 70 cu ft or about 2000-liters, which would be similar to the European short-wheelbase Sportage that measures only 105.5 inches or 2680 mm in wheelbase.
So, for those of you who are in North America, Niro would be the closest thing to a short-wheelbase European Sportage and a perfect alternative to Sportage if you are in the need of something smaller. With a more youthful and stylish design, it’s ideal for singles or younger families with a lesser need for interior room and cargo space. Especially if you are not completely not sold on pure electric, but who are willing to give the hybrid a chance and want to do it in style. Stick with the familiar Sportage if you need a more traditional SUV with lots of room for both passengers and cargo.
Also, although we believe that the new Sportage will turn out great when the actual production model is unveiled, those that find the avant-garde design of the Sportage to be too eccentric may find the new Niro’s design to be more agreeable.
For more information on the upcoming Niro and Sportage, please check out our previous videos.
Next-Gen Kia Niro Rendering (HITEKRO)
The anticipated unveiling is to be summer of 2021 for the new Sportage. As Kia has decided to release the existing version as a 2022 model, the arrival in North America is now expected to be delayed until early 2022 as a 2023 model. The prices will range from $25,000 to about $40,000 for the EV variant.
For Niro, it’s a similar story, originally expected to be released as a 2022 model after the unveiling in 2021, the all-new Niro will now be released in 2022 as a 2023 model at an estimated price that’s similar to the current model at $27,000 for hybrid and $32,000 for the plug-in hybrid.
Previously anticipated to be terminated as of 2021, Kia is extending the life of the current generation Niro by another year. This is to alleviate the current supply problem associated with the brand new dedicated EV models such as EV6 due to the automotive semiconductor shortage coupled with the production issues with the pandemic.
Kia is hoping that the current Niro EV would fulfill the role as a stopgap measure until the supply of the dedicated electric vehicles becomes stabilized. FYI, aside from the brand-new Kia logo, the 2022 Niro is pretty much the same as the award-winning 2021 model that features the heat pump which reduces the effect of cold weather would have on the range of an electric vehicle, the same innovative technology that’s also found in the latest EV6.
So, it might not be a bad idea to stay with the highly capable current Niro EV for the next few years until the supply of the EV6 and Ioniq 5 become more stable, and all the bugs ironed out from the first year models.
WATCH THE FULL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/MmwIfGKqsYY