Kia e-Niro review
|Car||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|e-Niro (39kWh)||180 miles||6hrs 10mins (7.2kW, 0-100%)||57mins (50kW, 0-80%)|
|e-Niro (64kWh)||282 miles||9hrs 35mins (7.2kW, 0-100%)||57mins (50kW, 0-80%)|
The Kia e-Niro is a compact family SUV with a claimed 282-mile range thanks to its sizable 64kWh battery pack. A facelift in spring 2020 saw updates to the cabin and infotainment system, along with the addition of a smaller battery option – cementing its place as one of our favourite electric cars on sale.
If any of those numbers are ringing bells, that’s because the e-Niro is a non-identical twin to the Hyundai Kona Electric, which shook up the electric-car market by offering virtually double the driving range of most other models in the £35,000 price range. The latest Kia Soul EV (another of the e-Niro's siblings) is a notable exception – as is the Tesla Model 3 if you can stretch to £40,000.
That range is no hollow marketing line, either; we lived with the pre-facelift Kia e-Niro and routinely saw 280 miles or more in the summer months, while the worst-case conditions saw around 180 miles on a constant motorway journey in very cold and windy winter conditions. We've yet to test the smaller 39kWh battery, but have no reason to doubt Kia's 180-mile claims.
The Kia e-Niro differs from its Hyundai sibling in that it’s a fraction larger and more spacious in the rear seats and boot. Previously, the e-Niro was only available with a larger battery pack, but now it has matched Hyundai by offering a choice of a cheaper, 200-mile-range car.
Charging is done using a CCS or Type 2 cable that fits into the port in the car’s nose, hidden behind that conspicuously vent-free, solid nose that’s becoming a telltale sign of many electric cars. Standard cables include a Type 2 public charging cable and a three-pin plug for charging from a wall socket at home.
One of the great things about the e-Niro, if we’re to put the electric aspect aside for a moment, is that it’s just a great compact family SUV. A conventional petrol or diesel alternative like the bigger Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Karoq are more spacious and versatile, but the e-Niro has a lot going for it even in that company.
All but '2' cars come with a great 10.25-inch touchscreen. It's bigger, clearer and crisper than the old eight-inch unit and is as well equipped as the rest of the car – including DAB, Bluetooth, sat nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Continuing the bells-and-whistles approach, the e-Niro also gets a full array of safety kit, including automatic lights and wipers, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, which combines to give it a very effective semi-autonomous driving mode. Only blind-spot monitoring is missing.
What’s it like to drive? Exactly how you’d want. Comfortable, smooth and easy-going, although it’s worth mentioning that it also has 201bhp and plenty of torque. This (particularly if you switch to Sport mode) makes the e-Niro an unlikely hot-hatch slayer up to about 40mph.
Don’t get us wrong: the real joy of this car is in sitting back and letting it whirr you around with impressive nonchalance, but if you want to prove a point at the traffic lights, it’s entertainingly capable of doing so. Likely to be more useful are the standard steering-wheel-mounted paddles that make it easy to toggle up or down the brake-regeneration levels.
As an overall prospect, the e-Niro is currently the best electric family car going. It’s great to drive, comfortable to sit in, easy to live with as a family and – crucially – offers the sort of range that should finally put the dreaded range anxiety to bed. Of course, you get Kia’s famous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty as well.
For more on the Kia e-Niro, check out our report on running one for several months, or read on for the rest of our in-depth review.