We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue
Hot on the heels of the Hyundai Kona EV comes the KIA e-Niro the second all-electric Korean car to be launched in recent months. Where Nissan’s Leaf has steadily improved it’s range to 170 miles on a single charge, the Niro EV offers a claimed range of 282 miles. It’s also a proper five-door family car that doesn’t look out of the ordinary & isn’t expensive, so what’s not to like ?
The e-Niro looks similar to its hybrid & plug-in hybrid stablemates. KIA tough have adde 17″ alloys, a flat front grille, a sleeker front bumper & a smoother more aerodynamic rear end. Inside too, it’s familiar with the regular KIA infotainment system & dashboard. Only the gear lever or lack of, is different, replaced by a rotary dial which also frees up some centre cubby space.
From launch, there’s only one trim level to choose from, which is the First Edition. This includes a reversing camera, heated front leather seats, an 8-way drivers power adjustable seat & a JBL stereo. There’s also a DAB radio, front USB & AUX in port, Bluetooth , a wireless phone charger & Apple CarPlay & Android Auto compatibility. Some of the trim in the cabin is very nice – the gloss black finish on the doors & around the gear area – but lower down, it’s a little cheaper looking.
From a practical perspective, there’s plenty of room for odds & ends with the front door pockets especially useful. The boot offers a useful 451 litres, with space underneath for the two charging cables.
Power comes from a 201bhp motor that drives the front wheels & like the 64kWh battery pack, both shared with the Hyundai Kona EV. It’s actually good fun to drive, offering a sprightly 0-60 mph time of 7.5 seconds, in Sport Mode, with a maximum torque of 395Nm’s helping pull the car along. To aid economy, it features a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel to control the strength of brake regeneration. The three levels available allow you to make the most of the car’s charge.
What we all really want to know is how far you can go in a e-Niro before recharging ? On the tougher WLTP combined test procedure, the KIA say that it will be able to cover 282 miles on a single charge. As a real-world guide we spent a week in one, covering over 200 miles in the process & we did charge it once at the start & once before handing it back.
It was delivered 80% charged so I plugged it into my Rolec home charger for 2.5 hours to charge it to to full. Ours is not a 100kW fast charger, which where available, will after 55 minutes of charging, top up the batteries from zero to 80%. That’s enough for at least 150 miles the way I drive, or 200 miles if you’re more careful & don’t turn on too much stuff, such as the air-con. With a full charge, driving in ECO Mode & utilising the highest brake regeneration -three-, 250 miles is infinitely possible, even with me behind the wheel.
Negatives ? It’s not an exciting car to drive & the battery weight, as in the hybrid Niro, makes the car feel heavy, especially around bends. On the motorway though it’s a quiet, comfortable companion & the cabin is it’s a pleasurable place to be.
What’s really great about the e-Niro though, is the price, £32,995 after the £3,500 government grant has been taken into account. This put’s it price wise, right up against top of the range SUV models, such as KIA’s own Sportage, Nissans Qashqai & the Peugeot 5008, with similar spec too. And of course it’s cheaper to run than any of these, especially if you can charge overnight & get a decent tariff from your home electricity supplier. We really like it & with KIA’s 7-year/100,00 miles warranty, you should get peace of mind if you choose one as well.
Fleet customers take note. If you’re not churning up the motorway miles, where diesel is still King, then this may be, with Hyundai’s KONA EV, the joint first EV that will work for you, price wise & range wise, especially if you can charge it at home or at work, or better still at both.
• Model: Kia e-Niro First Edition 64kWh
• Price: £32,995 (after grant)
• Engine: Single electric motor
• Power/torque: 201bhp/395Nm
• Transmission: Single-speed auto, FWD
• 0-60mph: 7.5 seconds
• Top speed: 104mph
• Range: 282 miles (WLTP)
• CO2: 0g/km