REVIEW: Kia e-Niro
It’s a form factor we are now all used to seeing on the roads of Ireland, Kia’s compact crossover e-Niro is the fully electric version of the popular Niro. It’s first incarnation was as a hybrid and now a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) version is also available.It made the Top 10 list for BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) new care sales in 2019 with 72 cars sold. So far in 2020, after only 2 months worth of figures, the Kia e-Niro has already beaten 2019 with sold 84 cars.
The Kia Niro concept was debuted in 2013 at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The all electric version was first launched in 2018 in Korea with the name Niro EV in Asia slightly changed to the e-Niro in Europe.
As mentioned in our intro, the design of the e-Niro is very familiar to us all. The irony that this form factor and its popularity across all brands and markets is one of the reasons emissions have gone up in the last few years is not lost on us. This fully electric version will hopefully start the trend of reversing those emissions downwards.
Externally, like a lot of BEVs, when passing it on the roads it’s easily identified by its solid grill as there’s no engine to ventilate. Based on the same platform as it’s sibling the e-Soul and it’s cousin the Hyundai Kona, Kia have maximised all available space. Boot space is great with 451 litres, the largest of any EV in this price bracket along with being slightly longer but not much wider.
The interior is substance over style and we’re OK with that. It’s all about functionality and the dashboard is practically laid out with no frills.
A 7 year warranty is not to be sniffed at and the South Koreans know what there are doing. This warranty covers the vehicle and battery. Its solid where it needs to be solid and a little plasticity where you’d imagine at this price point.
There is only one trim level available in Ireland and it’s pretty good. You get heated seats, heated steering wheel and lots of driver assistance bits and bobs. I’ll cover them in the technology section below.
Another way of identifying this as an EV is the drive mode selector in the center console. It’s very easy to operate and those transitioning to an electric vehicle will find driving this car a dream. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard with USB connectors in the front just below a handy shelf for your phone. There’s 2 of them, one solely just for charging and the other for data transfer such as music or connecting to one of the services mentioned above. There’s an 8″ touchscreen. A little on the small size but acceptable.
Not that you’d need your phones Sat Nav as the e-Niro come with Sat Nav (with 7 year map updates included), Wireless phone charging and a reversing camera as standard. Driver aids include Lane Following Assist (LFA), Forward Collision Avoidance Assist (FCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), High Beam Assist (HBA) and an electronic hand brake.
Range and Battery.
It’s impressive. A claimed 455km range and taken our wintery weather, with long and short drives over the week we are very impressed with it. We were achieving 400kms+ which is best in class for this price range.
At this moment, there’s only the “Electric Long Range” 64 kWh battery size option available to order in Ireland with a 150 kW (204 PS) motor. There are 4 levels of regenerative braking levels and 4 driving modes which are Eco+ which keeps your energy use to a minimum, Eco prioritises range over performance, Comfort would be for everyday driving and Sport prioritises performance. 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.8 seconds with a top speed of 167 km/h. Charging is through a port on the front of the car and has normal and fast charging capabilities via a CCS (Combined Charging System) port.
Priced competitively for this range capability from €37,495 it’s not going to be for the masses at this stage. Once we start seeing these cars on the second hand market at a lower price, the masses will gain the benefits of EV driving too. It’s a great car and we look forward to seeing more of them on the roads. Availability seems to be getting better and Kia seem to be getting better at looking after its battery supply chain shortage. It’s now not a case of “built it and they will come”, it’s a case of “build them faster and they will sell” because if Kia doesn’t, others will start eating into their EV market share.