The Kia e-Niro is a hoot to drive, but the UK’s charging network is not yet up to e-Niro’s fast charging capabilities
Engine choice is easy. The Kia e-Niro is only available with 64 kWh lithium-ion electric drivetrain. It is front-wheel drive and as the electric motor requires no transmission, there’s no gearbox choices either – you just press the accelerator and off you go.
The Kia e-Niro 205bhp electric motor that’s capable of powering the car from 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds. Top speed is 102mph and the car has a real world range of around 280 miles.
The car has three drive modes that you can alternate between via a dial on the centre console – eco, normal and sport. Keep the car in eco mode and you can expect the range to increase. Switch to sport and the e-Niro feels much sportier to drive, but the range will drop.
The Kia e-Niro is an SUV but don’t mistake it for an off-roader. It is front wheel drive only and is not suitable for towing.
There are a couple of paddles either side of the steering wheel. In most cars this would be to change gear but in the e-Niro this allows you to toggle between three levels of energy recuperation – the higher the level of recuperation, the more energy the brakes try to harvest. And you can use the left hand paddle instead of the brake to slow down and stop. This helps the Kia e-Niro achieve its impressive range. It’s fun to use and maybe a little counterintuitive at first, but if you can adapt your driving style it will help eke out more miles.
What’s not so much fun is charging. The charge point is accessed via a flap in the Kia e-Niro’s grille. The charging cable is stored under the boot floor. If your e-Niro is completely out of charge it can take nearly 10 to completely recharge the batteries at home.
If you have access to a 100kW fast charger, you can get back up to 80% in 54 minutes. Unfortunately, you’ll struggle to find a 100kW charger in the UK. If you have access to a 50kW charger, then you can get from zero to 80% in 75 minutes.
The Kia e-Niro doesn’t feel like a tall SUV to drive because the car’s batteries are stored under the floor. This gives the car a low centre of gravity which helps make it so fun to drive. The steering is sharp and the car feels stable as you drive around corners.
In city traffic you can zip away sharply at the lights as the acceleration in the electric car, especially up to speeds of 30mph, is really nippy. You won’t feel outgunned on the motorway either.
And all this is done in quiet – on the motorway you’ll hear noise from the tyres and the synthetic sound of the motor, but that’s about it.
Parking should be a doddle as the e-Niro comes with rear parking sensors and a rear view parking camera as standard.
Also as standard are a whole host of safety kit. The standard Niro hybrid earned four stars in Euro NCAP’s 2016 crash tests, and features advanced safety kit such as Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection, Adaptive Smart Cruise Control, Driver Attention Warning and Lane Keeping Assist System.