What is it?
The electric revolution is well and truly upon us. Big brands are now weighing in with plenty of new EVs, rushing in momentum as the looming restrictions on new petrol and diesel cars come into sight. Kia is no different.
The e-Niro is one of the core EV offerings in the firm’s line-up, offering the dependability and practicality that you’d associate with the brand yet with a claimed electric range that puts many other electric cars to shame – on paper at least. So does it tick the boxes in other areas too? We’ve been behind the wheel of the latest e-Niro to find out.
Being a current (if you’ll excuse the pun) electric vehicle, the e-Niro sits on the cutting edge of powertrains. It means that most of what’s new resides around its motors and batteries – but we’ll look at these in a little more depth later on. Elsewhere, we’ve got a largely typical setup; there’s space for five inside, with a focus on practicality that we’ve come to expect from Kia. There’s a decent-sized boot, and it’s all wrapped up in a package that doesn’t look out-of-place against other more conventionally powered models. Far from other EVs on the market today, the e-Niro is a car which blends into the background despite its far from conventional powertrain.
What’s under the bonnet?
This e-Niro makes use of a 64kWh electric motor, which is then linked to a 150kW battery pack. In total, Kia claims that you’ll be able to do up to 282 miles between charges, gracing it with genuinely useable range. Of course, it’s best to take claimed ranges with a pinch of salt, but during our time with the car, it seemed impressively close to those on-paper range figures.When it comes to performance, the e-Niro does well. Getting from 0-60mph takes just over seven seconds, while it’ll top out at 104mph. And when it comes to charging, Kia claims that you’ll be able to take the Niro from 0-80 per cent in just 54 minutes when using a rapid 100kW charger. However, a full charge will take a still respectable nine hours and 35 minutes via a conventional 7.5kW wallbox. Using a three-pin to charge it will take a rather cumbersome 29 hours.
What’s it like to drive?
One of the best things about the e-Niro is simply how normal it is to drive. You get in, start the car and move off – and save for the absence of any engine noise, you could be in any other Kia hatchback. It means that those who are transitioning across from a ‘conventional’ car will find the e-Niro rather user-friendly, and not as scary nor as intimidating as you might think an EV could be.
On the move, the e-Niro is composed and comfortable with a good amount of forward visibility available. The seats themselves are comfortable – though quite flat – and the steering has a light yet well-sorted feel to it. Of course, the electric powertrain means you’ve got some real zip at your disposal away from a dead stop. Though its 0-60mph sprint time isn’t much to write home about, the way the e-Niro zings off the line is genuinely impressive. It also makes it ideal for darting into spaces in traffic or out of junctions where a quick burst of pace is often necessary.
How does it look?
Following a common theme, the e-Niro doesn’t look outwardly that different or exceptional next to other conventionally powered cars. The fact that Kia offers the Niro in three different powertrains – regular hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric – which all feature similar exterior looks mean that it’s actually quite hard to distinguish this e-Niro against the rest. You do get a smoothed-out grille (there’s no need for cooling given the lack of engine) and a variety of bright blue accents, but largely you’d be hard-pressed to tell that this is an electric vehicle.
That’s not to say that it’s a bad looking car, mind you. It’s well proportioned and, if not inundated with flashier touches, is smart and well finished. If you’re after an electric car which doesn’t shout about its eco-credentials, then the e-Niro is the car for you.
What’s it like inside?
When it comes to space and practicality, the e-Niro has things nailed. For those up front, there’s plenty of shoulder room to make longer trips comfortable and it’s a similar story for those sitting in the back who can enjoy a good amount of head- and legroom. There’s enough space for families, that’s for sure, while Kia’s choice to locate the batteries under the car’s floor rather than the back of the vehicle means you get a huge 451-litre boot.
The boot space itself is square and easy to access too, and you can fold the rear seats down – they split 60:40 – which pushes boot capacity up to an impressive 1,405 litres. Despite the seats being folded, the load area goes completely flat which is particularly useful for when putting larger items into the back of the car.
What’s the spec like?
As we’ve come to expect from Kia cars, the e-Niro is packed with standard equipment. Exterior features such as 17-inch alloy wheels come included, along with privacy glass, automatic headlights and LED headlights.
Inside, there’s an extremely useable 10.25-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and full satellite navigation and media functions. There’s also a seven-inch TFT colour driver display, which is clear and easy to configure. A wide variety of driver assistance systems are included, with features such as forward collision-avoidance assist and lane-keeping assist combining with other functions to help make the e-Niro a very safe place to be.
One of the greatest positives of the Kia e-Niro is just how seamlessly it fits into your life. It looks, feels and drives as a conventionally powered car does and it even looks pretty conventional too. However, that EV powertrain makes it fully in-keeping with the present while the range it affords is easily one of the best on the market today.
It’s a car which just integrates brilliantly into everyday life, with few of the drawbacks people usually associated with EV ownership. In short, if you’re after an EV which doesn’t really feel like an EV, then the e-Niro is the car for you.