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MotorBar - New Car Reviews
Kia e-Niro 64kWh First Edition

Click to view picture gallery“They’ve been telling you to forget
  diesel and forget petrol because
  electric is the future. Actually, the
  future is already the present thanks
  to carmakers such as Kia, whose
  e-Niro pure-electric EV is good for
  a reassuring 282 miles between
  charges...”


THAT'S GOOD ENOUGH for most drivers for perhaps a full week's driving including to and from work, and then some. In fact, the class-leading 282-mile range is the figure for the combined cycle in city use that could stretch substantially further, to 382 miles which puts it far ahead of many of its rivals.

This is exactly what countless owners of fossil-fuel-dependent cars have been holding out for — an all-electric car that can honestly be relied upon to be their sole household 'wagon'. And coming, as it does, in the popular and practical crossover bodystyle along with an anxiety-free range and zero emissions, the award-winning e-Niro really does put a self-satisfied smile on your face.

The all-electric e-Niro’s
bankable and easily
achievable 282-mile
combined cycle range
(and as much as 382
miles in town) along
with its zero emissions
really does put
a self-satisfied smile
on your face”
Charging is totally foolproof and done via a discreet port in the new-look, aerodynamically-streamlined 'tiger's-nose' grille. Unlike some rival EVs, the e-Niro's battery pack is out of the way beneath the floor so doesn't steal valuable luggage space from the boot or disrupt the weight distribution — a configuration that's no accident because Kia engineered the platform from the off to suit a full-blown pure-electric powerplant set-up.

The second biggest concern for drivers thinking of 'going electric is about 'filling up' — in the e-Niro's case it couldn't be simpler either at home or using public chargers; just pop open the flap in the front grille and plug in the charging lead. Complete the connection at the charger-end and, as they say, Bob's your uncle!

The e-Niro comes with regenerative braking technology allowing it to harvest kinetic energy and recharge the battery pack on the move whenever the car is coasting or braking. Paddle-shifters on the steering wheel let you choose between three intensities of energy recuperation. Whenever you lift off the throttle the regenerative braking also acts just like the engine braking you get in a petrol- or diesel-engined car for maximum control when, say, driving down a steep hill.

Using a 100kW fast-charger means you'll be good to go surprisingly quickly: a 0-80% charge can done and dusted in just 54 minutes (75 minutes with a 50kW charger). Using a 7.2kW charger for a 0-100% boost takes 9 hours and 50 minutes while if you've no alternative but to fall back on a 3-pin household connection then a 0-100% charge needs 29 hours.

A strip of blue lights atop the dash lets you know how the charging is progressing — convenient if you've left the car locked while juicing-up in a public spot. Inside, all important EV information is shown without any Starship Enterprise complexity — another big tick in the usability box. There's extra peace of mind, too, from the e-Niro's industry-leading seven-year warranty which also covers the battery pack and electric motor.

If you're just making the switch from petrol or diesel to electric then the e-Niro makes you feel right at home. Settle behind the wheel and you'll find yourself in a cabin that's as appealing, well-put-together and architecturally easy on the eye as any other Kia — in other words, pretty damn good! What's especially nice is that the high-tech electric motor's command and control interface is extremely straightforward.

An automatic
transmission is standard and is operated by
a simple ‘shift-by-wire’
rotary-style
drive selector dial.
Thumb the Power
button to start the motor;
twist the knob to D.
Press firmly on the
accelerator and the
e-Niro surges forward
with instantaneous
urge — more
energetically, in fact,
than many a so-called
hot-hatch...”
As its 'crossover' designation promises, the e-Niro serves up the space to meet a family's transportation needs, all skilfully packaged in a manageable-sized body — at 4,375mm long it's shorter than Kia's Sportage but longer than the brand's Ceed hatchback. The three-stage heated seats are upholstered in black leather with contrasting white piping; the bolstering is supportive and the chairs are as comfortable for a short take-out trip to your local Pizza Express as they are on a long drive en famille for a half-term cross-Channel staycation.

The driver enjoys full 8-way electric adjustment with powered lumbar and sits commandingly high — even so there's still more than a fist of headroom and plenty more space all around you. All of which results in a clear view down the bonnet and A1 visibility in all directions for stress-free on-road manoeuvring and fearless parking. That noted, a reversing camera and parking sensors are on hand to make going backwards even easier.

The three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering-wheel is a multifunction item and feels good in your palms (and it's heated, too). Seen easily through its upper arc is a crystal-clear seven-inch TFT screen showing your road speed, range, charge remaining, drive mode, etc, along with all the driving data that really matters; and all of it can be taken in with the quickest of glances.

Flick your eyes to the left and you'll find the large eight-inch touchscreen — set top-dead-centre of the fascia — to be equally readable. Here be not dragons but a satisfyingly easy-to-use infotainment and navigation system with clearly defined 3D mapping made even better by the accurate spoken directions. TomTom Live serves up traffic info, speed camera alerts, local search (500 categories) and weather updates.

Pre-installed apps can access both Apple and Google Maps, take text dictation, and call up music streaming and audio books. Another handy feature: nearby charging points are also shown. Particularly good for the winter months is the option to set a departure time for an upcoming trip so the cabin is pre-heated ready for you to set off.

An autobox is standard; look down and you'll see a simple 'shift-by-wire' rotary-style drive selector dial with which to operate the transmission (R, N, D or press the central button for Park). It's within easy reach, mounted on the raised centre tunnel that's helpfully stuffed with storage space including a very big and very deep main box topped with a sliding lid (and nifty, built-in pop-out curved dividers that enable you to switch between drinks and storage at the press of a button). Beneath the padded central armrest is a second deep box and a fast-charge USB port.

In addition there's a large, deep-sided tray at the base of the centre stack close to USB and Aux ports, a 12V power socket, and a wireless smartphone charging 'bed', bottle-holding front door bins, and a drop-down sunglasses case. The shift selector panel is also home to buttons for the electric parking brake (with an auto-hold function), heated seats, heated steering wheel, and the Drive Mode selector.

The electric motor
drives the front wheels
using its 201bhp and a
291lb ft wave of silent
torque to deliver a
seamless zero to 62mph
‘sprint’ in just
7.5 seconds. Underscoring the
e-Niro’s eager
performance is its
class-leading 282-mile
combined cycle
range — something we
were able to confirm
during a week’s hard
driving over a mix
of town and
country roads...”
Comms are comprehensive, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (both with voice control) to facilitate your mobile mirroring plus the WiFi phone charging detects a smartphone and begins charging automatically the moment it's placed in the tray, then displays the charge status in the instrument cluster and, when you exit, reminds you to take it with you. Music to your ears will be the eight-speaker JBL premium sound system with 320 watts output, plus there's also Bluetooth and a DAB radio as well as voice control for handsfree access to radio lists, navigation, and address searching.

The First Edition e-Niro is kit-rich. In addition to everything mentioned where appropriate in the review (comms, touchscreen, heated leather seats and steering wheel, WiFi smartphone charging, etc) there's also smart keyless entry and start, automatic AirCon, front and rear parking sensors, Solar glass with privacy tinting to the rear glazing, four electric windows (the front pair with one-shot op), powerfolding heated door mirrors, auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto lights and wipes, roof rails, a rear spoiler, and a set of 17-inch alloys.

The e-Niro also fares well in the safety and assist departments with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (that's also pedestrian- and cyclist-aware) with autonomous emergency braking, Adaptive Smart Cruise Control that automatically brakes for you (and adjusts your speed until a safe distance is re-established) if another vehicle unexpectedly cuts in front, Lane Keep Assist to keep you lane-centred (and guide you back should you stray), Electronic Stability Control and Vehicle Stability Management to keep things shipshape, halogen headlights with bi-function projection and a convenient auto-dipping system, LED daytime running lights, LED taillights, seven airbags (including one for the driver's knee), Hill-Start Assist, Driver Attention warning, tyre pressure monitoring, speed limiter, automatic drive-off door locking, height-adjustable front belts, and a front passenger airbag cut-off switch for when you're using a child safety seat up front.

Thanks to a generous 2,700mm wheelbase the rear cabin positively welcomes adults — there's easily room for three side-by-side although two, obviously, is best; one seated either side of the large, well-padded, cup-holding centre armrest. In which case they'll enjoy comfy and supportive seats with relaxing backrest angles, plenty of air above their heads and space around their knees and feet — wiggle room there is aplenty. Making life in the back cabin even more genial are the fine views both forward and to the sides courtesy of long rear windows, dedicated central air-vents, net pouches on the front seatbacks, and bottle-holding door bins. Parents will also appreciate the Isofix child seat fittings.

It helps, too, that the e-Niro's suspension smothers the bulk of bumps and broken blacktop pretty efficiently — you and your passengers will rarely notice the road passing beneath your feet. Kia's EV is also especially well insulated from the outside world — travelling in one you'll enjoy quiet drives in and out of town, and when cruising motorways it's as serene as a limo. All-in-all a very pleasant place to be.

Electric power is not only clean but gives you a very impressive 'buzz' for your bucks thanks to it conjuring up maximum torque from just 1rpm — compared to the average combustion engine's 1,500rpm! Just thumb the Power button to start the motor then twist the knob to R or D. Press down on the accelerator and the e-Niro surges forward with instantaneous urge — more energetically, in fact, than many a 'hot' hatch.

The battery pack below
decks undeniably adds
extra ballast but in a
positive way: it lowers
the e-Niro
s centre of
gravity which is a
key factor in its
vice-free handling.
There
s also strong grip
and traction plus well-
managed body control,
and piloted quickly the
e-Niro is delightfully
driveable...”
And there's a choice of drive modes: Eco, Normal, and Sport. Sport maxes out the steering weighting, throttle responses and acceleration when you feel like pressing on. The electric motor drives the car's front wheels using its 201bhp and a 291lb ft wave of silent torque to deliver a seamless zero to 62mph 'sprint' in just 7.5 seconds.

Even pedal-to-the-metal you'll struggle to hear the motor spinning and if you do then the electric whisper is intriguing. Underscoring the e-Niro's eager performance is its class-leading 282-mile combined cycle range — something we were able to confirm during a week's hard driving over a mix of town and country roads.

Carrying a weighty battery pack below decks undeniably adds extra ballast but in a positive way: it lowers the e-Niro's centre of gravity which is a key factor in its vice-free handling. Add in strong grip and traction plus well-managed body control and the e-Niro is spades more settled and manoeuvrable than you might be expecting of a fully-fledged EV; piloted quickly, the twisties are managed with aplomb and the e-Niro feels delightfully driveable.

Even on the limit it's a safe and predictable car. Get too cavalier and the stability control cuts in — but it does so with a delicacy that won't spoil your line or ruffle your ego. The brakes — 'snatchy' and tricky to use smoothly on some regenerative systems — are fine on the e-Niro, serving up strong and linear stopping alongside decent pedal 'feel'.

With all five seats taken the e-Niro still trumps other EVs for boot space — raise the light-to-lift, high-opening tailgate and there's 451 litres which is more than adequate for the average family's needs. Plus there are two tiers of underfloor storage: the uppermost tray has four deep individual sections while the lower one is a large single item. It doesn't end there, either — fold down the 60:40-split rear backrests and you'll be faced with a uninterrupted loadbay that can swallow 1,405 litres. More good news — the rollerblind load cover has its own storage slot under the boot floor.

Good things always seem be promised for the future but rarely arrive on time. Not so Kia's convincing, real-world, zero-emissions electric car for real-life use by real-world motorists. So why wait another single day when you can have a clean-breathing car of the future — the spacious, comfortable and über-quiet e-Niro — right now! ~ MotorBar
.
Kia e-Niro 64kWh First Edition | 32,995
Maximum speed: 104mph | 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds | Range: 282-382 miles
Power: 201bhp | Torque: 291lb ft | CO2: 0g/km

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