Car review: Our friend’s electric!

By Steve Berry

IF you are looking for a family-sized electric vehicle, both affordable and capable of clocking up many miles between charges, you may have given up the search and gone for a hybrid instead.

Kia are about to change all that with their all-electric e-Niro model.

Not only does it have a range of more than 280 miles from a single charge it won’t cost you the earth.

With a similar range to the £63,000 Jaguar I-Pace – but costing almost half as much – the Kia e-Niro 64 kWh First Edition costs £32,995 on the road (after subtracting the Government’s £3,500 grant).

A spacious, mid-sized family SUV, the Niro is already available as a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

However, the introduction of the zero-emission e-Niro you can ask: “How green do you want to go?”

Outwardly, the new e-Niro is only distinguishable from its siblings by way of a closed-off tiger-face grille, new alloy wheels and some electric blue highlighting.

Kia are keeping things simple by offering the one trim level: First Edition.

Highlights include roof rails, rear spoiler, solar glass with rear privacy glass, black leather upholstery, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, auto lights and auto wipers, adaptive cruise control, eight speaker JBL premium sound system, eight inch touchscreen with sat nav and Kia connected services, Apple car play and Android auto, wireless phone-charging, lane-keep assist, forward collision avoidance assist and drive mode select – Eco and Sport.

The interior impresses too and feels more upmarket than the Nissan Leaf or Hyundai Kona electric.

It’s cabin and rear passenger space is also more generous than those rivals and vastly superior to the more-expensive VW e-Golf.

Impressively, at 451 litres, the e-Niro’s boot capacity is 128 litres more than the Niro PHEV due to the batteries being mounted under the floor.

The real highlight is driving the Kia e-Niro. Being a fully-electric vehicle the whole experience feels so relaxing and civilised from the moment you push the start-button.

Select ‘D’ from the large rotary gear-selector between the front seats, give the accelerator a push and off you go, silently and without fuss.

If you’ve selected reverse, the touchscreen shows the view behind. You will also hear some subtle reversing beeps to warn pedestrians that this silent car is about to move off.

On the open road the electric Niro is no slouch; hitting 60mph from a standing start in just 7.5 seconds.

Don’t expect sports car handling though. The e-Niro is a family SUV after all and is damped for comfort.

With just one gear for the automatic transmission to worry about and all that power being available instantly, you’ll marvel how quickly the e-Niro goes about its business – whether that’s cruising along the motorway or darting around town where instant acceleration makes many decisions very simple.

The overall impression you’ll get is a serenity you won’t find in anything but an electric vehicle.

But what about that great bugbear-range anxiety? For combined driving the official figure is 282 miles. I did a lot of miles in the week I had the e-Niro and I managed over 260 miles from a full-charge.

And I wasn’t fixating on using the car’s abilities to re-charge itself when braking, descending hills, etc.

What about fear of the battery degrading? This has proved largely unfounded even from the early electric/hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius.

Kia also have their class-leading seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty  fully covering the battery pack and electric motor. It is also fully-transferable should you sell the car on.

Having the car during a cold-snap I was grateful for the e-Niro’s ability to set a time for pre-heating the car to a desired temperature.

The sat nav includes routes to all available charging points and charge-level, along with range, is clearly displayed if you wish.

With 100kw fast charge points now available the e-Niro goes from zero to 80 per cent charge in just 54 minutes.

The more-available 50kW chargers take 75 minutes while plugging into your domestic supply will take nine hours and 50 minutes.

The Kia e-Niro took the What Car? overall winner prize for 2019. So, it’s no surprise those in the know think this is a game-changer.

Electric vehicles (EVs) won’t work for everyone but with the e-Niro, Kia have put practical, affordable EV-ownership within the grasp of many drivers for which they should be applauded.

RATING: *****

AT A GLANCE: Kia e-Niro First Edition
OTR Price: £32,995 (after Government grant)
Engine: 64 kWh electric motor
Power: 201 bhp
Transmission: single-speed automatic
0-62mph: 7.5 secs
Top Speed: 104 mph
Combined Range: 282 miles
CO2: 0 g/km

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