Kia e-Niro review
The Kia e-Niro is a stylish looking, well-equipped electric SUV, with a big boot and a range of more than 280 miles. It looks a bit expensive compared with other electric cars though
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The Kia e-Niro is a pure-electric SUV that’ll seat five and manage an anxiety-busting range. So, if you think electric vehicles are best left to delivering milk, you might be quite surprised by how things have come on.
The Kia e-Niro is one of the finest EVs on sale. Torpedoing traditional electric car concerns, the long-range Kia e-Niro, which is available in two specification levels called 3 and 4, has an impressive 282-mile range plus Kia’s seven-year warranty. There’s also a 39kWh mid-range model, called 2, that has a still-decent range of 180 miles.
In fact, the e-Niro is so impressive, it picked up the Eco Award at the 2019 carwow Car of the Year awards.
Sure, electric car competitors such as the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen ID.3 and the Hyundai Kona Electric (with which the e-Niro shares its electric technology) are cheaper, but the e-Niro is more practical and comes with an impressive list of standard kit for a sensible price.
You can spot the e-Niro over the standard Niro hybrid and Plug-in PHEV thanks to design tweaks including flashes of blue trim near the daytime running lights and round the air intakes. It also has differently styled alloy wheels which aid aerodynamics and efficiency and a filled-in front grille which houses the charging port.
As an electric car, the e-Niro is great, but remember there are better petrol and diesel SUVs that you can get for the same money
Remember the time when the average customer thought Kia was a watchword for cheap and cheerful? That’s absolutely not the case with the e-Niro. The interior is filled with leather, soft-touch plastics and piano black trim of the quality you’d expect to find in posh cars from Germany. It has decent space, too.
Like most electric cars, driving any Kia e-Niro is a hoot. You press the accelerator and whoosh off you go, meaning you’ll get away quickly from the lights and be able to nip in and out of gaps in city traffic.
The electric car is quiet and comfortable on the motorway – you’ll hear a bit of noise from the tyres and a synthetic Tardis-type noise from the electric drivetrain. If you get a chance to scoot down a quiet country lane, the e-Niro is no sports car, but its abrupt acceleration and grippy cornering still raise a smile.
Kia e-Niro range and charging
As for the time it will take to recharge, you can go from zero charge to around 80% in 75 minutes if you have got access to a 50kW fast charger with the larger-battery model. Charging from empty at home will take nearly 10 hours, although a full ‘tank’ on the e-Niro will cost you around £9, some £20 cheaper than fuelling a petrol car to cover the same distance. That ‘tankful’ will take you 282 miles, too.
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The batteries are in the floor, which frees up space to create a decent-sized boot, but space in the back for adults isn’t perfect.
Front seat passengers will be comfortable enough. The driver’s seat comes with 8-way power adjustment and lumbar support, which provides extra support on long journeys. There’s decent adjustment for the steering wheel so you should be able to find a good driving position. Both front seats are heated (as is the steering wheel) which takes the chill off things.
It’s a mixed picture for rear passengers though. There’s good head and shoulder room for two six-footers in the back – the e-Niro is a bit taller and longer than the Niro PHEV – but the room around your feet is a bit tight.
That’s compounded by a small hump in the middle of the floor, restricting wiggle room for your toes even further. The third seat is narrow and hard and so only really useable for short journeys.
Got kids? The rear doors have wide openings so getting a car seat in should prove easy enough. Finding the Isofix fittings probably less so. They are hidden behind the seat padding so it’s not as easy to fit as you would in a Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Kia e-Niro’s door bins are very spacious – you’ll have no trouble fitting a large bottle in each front door – and the glovebox is roomy too. There’s some handy storage under the front armrest for keeping small valuables hidden and the cupholders in the centre console are easily big enough to hold a mammoth cup of service-station coffee. It has a retractable cover so you can keep valuables in there too.
There’s a wireless charging shelf underneath the air-con controls if you have a compatible phone. If you don’t it’s still a handy place to keep your mobile. There’s a USB port here too for when you want to charge your phone or connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The rear door bins aren’t as big as those in the front but there’s still enough space for a medium-sized bottle. The folding rear armrest comes as standard with two (slightly smaller) cupholders, too. You can place magazines and the like in the netted seatbacks.
Boot space in the hybrid and PHEV versions of the Niro is a bit compromised as the batteries for the hybrid systems are stored under the boot, but that’s not the case here. The Kia e-Niro has a boot space of 451 litres.
The reason for that is the position of the batteries for the electric motor which are under the floor instead of taking space in the boot. That puts the e-Niro, in terms of boot space, on a par with the likes of the Nissan Qashqai.
The rear seats fold 60:40 to increase boot space up to 1405 litres. That’s a useful amount to load a bike with the wheels on for instance. The seats fold flat and there’s just a small lip at the boot opening so you should be able to slide in and pull out bulky items.
There are four tethering points on the boot floor, while underneath is where the charging leads is stored.
The Kia e-Niro has strong performance for a family SUV, but find chargers to charge at its maximum rate is still a struggle in the UK.
The Kia e-Niro is available with either a 39 kWh lithium-ion electric drivetrain or a 64 kWh drivetrain. It is front-wheel drive and as the electric motor requires no transmission, there’s no gearbox choice – you just press the accelerator and off you go.
The 135hp model can cover the 0-60mph sprint in 9.5 seconds and tops out at 96mph. It has a range of around 180 miles. The 201hp electric motor is 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.
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.
The charge point is accessed via a flap in the Kia e-Niro’s grille, while the charging cable is stored under the boot floor. If your e-Niro is completely out of charge it’ll take nearly 10 to completely recharge the batteries at home with a wall charger. If you have access to a 100kW fast charger, you can get back up to 80% in 54 minutes, while via a 50kW charger, 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.
The Kia e-Niro feels well put together with quality materials, but in terms of its looks it lacks a bit of pizazz compared with equally priced posh SUVs.
Kia e-Niro colours
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