If you need a sensible family car and you’ve decided that some form of electrification needs to be included in your next one, then the Kia Niro should be on your radar. You can have it as a conventional hybrid or an HEV plug-in hybrid, but it’s the full electric E-Niro model we’re going to review here.
You might quite understandably view the thought of switching from conventional combustion engine motoring to full electric ownership as being rather a big step to take.
Bar stool experts may have you put off EV ownership by telling you that the only full battery-powered models with a decent driving range, are the large luxury segment ones you probably won’t be able to afford.
Well, that’s not quite true. In more recent times the Hyundai Kia Korean conglomerates have been pushing boundaries when it comes to the kind of battery technology customers can expect from more affordable cars, and the results in 2018 were the launch of two models. The Hyundai Kona electric and it’s close cousin the Kia E-Niro.
The E-Niro also shares its battery drivetrain with the second generation version of the model that kicked off Kia’s efforts in the EV segment back in 2014, the Seoul EV. The first generation Kona EV rather floundered due to a combination of its relatively high cost and restricted driving range.
Meaning that only around 500 units were sold in our market in its four years of production. In contrast, this E-Niro model almost doubled that showing in its first month on sale.
Should you still need convincing about the improvement in battery-powered automotive technology, and the changing public perception of EEV’s you’ve got it right there.
A big reason behind this sales success lies with the driving range issue mentioned earlier. Most affordable electric vehicles use a battery pack of around 40 kilowatt-hours in size, in an e Niro though there’s the kind of larger 64 kilowatt-hour battery you get in a much larger luxury EV, which means obviously a much longer driving range. EPA rated at 282 miles.
In the EV markets, most affordable segments only the electrically identical Hyundai Koner electric and Kia Soul EV models can match this kind of showing and both, though arguably trendier than this Kia offer significantly less interior space for people and packages.
All of which means that if you’ve been waiting for battery-powered family cars to get serious, this one should interest you more than any affordable EV on sale to date.
Kia’s intent in producing what is arguably the most viable affordable full-electric family car yet made is clearly to conquest buyers who’d never previously have considered an EV. So what all these people notice when getting to grips with this one?
What Is The E-Niro Like To Drive?
At the wheel, it certainly feels pretty conventional apart from the rotary controller that takes the place of a gear stick for the single-speed auto gearbox that all EEV’s have to have.
Press the starter button and there’s lots of rather a lot of unnecessary musical input, six loud chimes, and little background jingle as a system check runs through a software setup before advising that you’re ready to start driving.
All of this rather distracts your attention from the lack of engine Rumble up ahead, but your attention will certainly be caught by what happens when you merely brush the accelerator to initiate forward motion.
The way the car spears away from rest is pretty surprising the first time you experience it, though the effect is slightly less startling than it’s the case with some rival EEV’s.
That’s because Kia’s engineered in a split second of delay between throttle application and power delivery, to make the whole experience feel slightly more combustion like and linear. But only slightly
Once you understand the drive dynamics in play the rush of blood to the head that this E-Niro gets every time you press the loud pedal with any real vigor, is perhaps, only to be expected.
The single AC synchronous electric motor used here generates 150 kilowatts, the equivalent of 201 brake horsepower. And you get a lot more pulling power than would be it generated by an equivalent combustion engine, 395 Newton meters of torque.
Every bit of which is delivered right from the get-go rather than building as it would with a fossil fuel power plant.
All of this is just as well because this car like all EV’s is considerably weightier than an equivalent combustion engine model, tipping the scales at 1812 kilos which makes it around half a ton heavier than a comparably sized sedan.
Most of this is down to the fact that this full-electric Niro must carry around a much heavier battery pack than its petrol-electric stablemates. The battery pack in a self-charging Niro hybrid weighs 33 kilos and the one in a PHEV Niro plug-in weighs 117 kilos.
Contrast that with an e-Niro where the lithium-ion polymer battery system weighs 457 kilos, about the same total weight as a Caterham 7 sports car. That’s an awful lot of bulk to carry around which makes it even more impressive that an e Niro can sprint from rest to 60 miles an hour in just 7.5 seconds.
Like all-electric cars, it runs out of puffs pretty soon after that mind you, at which point you realize that driving the car in is somewhat ridiculous. Not least because the energy you’ve just pointlessly used is probably going to take an extra half hours worth of charging replenishment of a battery as large as the one being used in the Niro.
What Is The Driving Range Of The Kia Niro EV?
Where most EV’s in this segment use battery systems generating about 40 kilowatt-hours. An E-Niro fronts up with a 64-kilowatt-hour setup that’s more than 50% gutsier, and that, of course, means the potential for a much longer driving range between charges. EPA rated at 282 miles.
For many likely customers, this could be enough to make this all-electric Kia an everyday usable proposition in a way that many other affordable EV’s just can’t be.
How Good Is The Regen Braking?
You’re going to need to adjust to a slightly different driving style to maximize the distance you can travel between charges, which primarily means management of the energy regenerative process that kicks in when you come off the throttle.
Like most other electric vehicles the E-Niro provides you with paddle shifters for this purpose behind the steering wheel. The left panel intensifies the regenerative braking field while the right panel reduces it, either way through three distinct selectable stages.
Select the maximum regen effect you can get via stage three and you’ll hardly ever have to use the brake pedal at all, and in fact, you can bring the car to a complete stop just by continually pulling on the left-hand steering wheel paddle.
You’ll initially play with all of this a bit, but then probably tire of it and activate the system’s auto function which makes all the decisions for you when it comes to optimizing the black art of brake energy harvesting.
Pulling the right-hand paddle for a second or more will get that auto feature to kick in, at which point the car factors in what Kia calls predictive energy control using its safety system radar sensor to constantly calculate the optimum level of braking regeneration based on the positioning of vehicles ahead.
As you’d expect a greater level of harvesting is possible in the kind of urban conditions that we’ll see you using the brakes rather more. For town driving of virtual engine sound system cuts in below 15 miles an hour creating an artificial noise that warns those on the pavement of this E-Niro’s near-silent approach in urban areas.
Warning Signals For Pedestrians
The sounding question isn’t very loud and would probably be drowned out on busier and city streets, but at least it shows that automotive engineers are thinking of the possible dangers that battery-powered vehicles pose to deaf or visually impaired pedestrians.
Get beyond the city limits on soon twisting secondary roads and you’ll be in the territory where an electric vehicle would usually be far less in its comfort zone. On a recent test, we found that this car’s close cousin the identically engineered Hyundai Kona electric struggled a little to channel its prodigious reserves of torque to the tarmac.
The E-Niro manages that a little better partly because of the slightly more linear power delivery we mentioned earlier, and partly because Kia has chosen to use grip Michelin tires than the Konas budget brand Nixon rubber.
It’s still pretty easy to induce front end wheel spin though as you’ll quickly find with gE-Nirous throttle applications on damp roads out of tight corners. drive with more care though and this shouldn’t be much of an issue, smooth pedal input will prolong the life of your front tires too.
Driving with care though won’t help you much if you saddle yourself with a family car featuring the ride quality of a horse-drawn cart. That might be a worry for some coming to this car after experiencing much older generation electric vehicles.
Because of the weight issue we mentioned earlier, EVs have in the past often needed very firm suspension to stop them from wallowing about through the bends. So they often tend to ride poorly over broken surfaces as a result.
Thanks to a supple and quite sophisticated independent rear suspension setup this one’s a bit better than the class norm in this respect. Though you still feel deeper potholes and sharper speed humps more keenly than we’d like.
How Does The Car Handle While Cornering?
Cornering composure is also better than he might expect from a fully electric car, primarily thanks to the way that bulky battery pack has been spread evenly across the floor plan so lowering the center of gravity.
You might even be tempted to press on a bit through the twisty roads were it not for the fact that the electric steering rack manages to be relatively feel free.
How Good Is The Niro EV At Highway Driving?
on the highway, the relative quietness of the driveline means that you particularly noticed tire and wind noise, and even things like the wiper motor and the ventilation fan.
How Fast Can The Niro EV Accelerate
The acceleration on offer starts to thin out very noticeably once you get beyond 65 miles an hour, a characteristic that could do with being set a touch higher to fit in with a more usual national limit.
What Is The Top Speed Of The Niro EV?
Of course, you won’t often be approaching the top speed capability, or at least you won’t if you want to preserve anything like a reasonable driving range figure anyway. But for the record, it’s 104 miles an hour.
Another way of quickly depleting your traveling distance between charges is to select the most urgent of the three driving modes on offer, sport mode which gives you noticeably quicker throttle response and Bay’s the instrument clusters power and charge gauge in an orange glow.
You’ll try it once but then probably stay in the two other settings Eco and normal for most of the time. Also with one eye on the energy flow graphic, you can select to appear to the left of the speedo to show you at any given time what’s being powered or charged by what.
As in any EV, there are lots of screen options to allow you to plan your route around your remaining available charge, also engage in partly justified smugness at the extent of your ECO friendliness in comparison to a combustion engine to travel.
This one though delivers more where it matters, if you buy it you might not ever exactly replicate that 282-mile driving range figure we quoted earlier but there’s the potential to regularly get reasonably close to it between charges, which is what matters most.
And what makes this an EV that many families really could consider as an only car, for them the future starts right here.
One senior auto industry stylist recently described the current trend for EV model design as chaos. It’s certainly true that no defined theme has yet emerged especially amongst more affordable models.
Competing brands remain divided over whether an electric vehicle should look futuristic and trend-setting like say, a BMW i3. The brand’s decisions are stick with a more conventional look for this E-Niro is perhaps understandable.
In Kia range terms the Niro’s 4.37-meter length positions it’s somewhere between a sedan size seed family hatch and a cash cow style mid-sized Sportage SUV. The car is nominally an SUV, in this case, Kia prefers the term crossover, hence the chunky stance. The integrated roof rails and muscular wheel arches that house large 17-inch diamond-cut two-tone aluminum rims.
A slim mid-level character line short overhangs and tapered rear windows all lane to soften the boxy dimensions. It’s at the front though you’ll most easily be able to identify this battery-powered model as the full electric member of the Niro family.
The usual grille slats are replaced by a rather inelegant blanked off plastic panel that’s supposed to be more aerodynamic and features an integrated charging point.
Redesigned air intakes, special arrowhead-shaped lower LED daytime running lights and light blue trim highlights help it stand out further. In the quest for efficiency aerodynamics have been prioritized, hence these air curtains in each front corner to channel air away from the front wheel arches and reduce turbulence.
How Aerodynamic Is The Niro EV?
That emphasis continues at the back with the shaping of the roof spoiler and the design of the lower diffuser that aids airflow beneath the car. Even the location of the rearview camera attachment has been carefully considered, housed within the rear wiper mounting. It all contributes to a 0.9 CD drag factor that’s notably sleek for a crossover class car.
Lanking the contoured tailgate glass are LED tail lamps and blue highlights below the rear reflectors on the restyled bumpers complement the front end thing. Of course of much greater importance is the stuff you can’t see.
Conventional looking EV’s are often compromised in their basic design by the need in other forms to accommodate a bulky combustion engine but all Niro variants feature electrification to some extent, and the priority with this one was to incorporate its bulky battery pack in a way that had as little impact as possible on cabin space. Have the designers manage that? time to take a look inside.
Yes, this is a glorified family hatchback but you’d easily be convinced of this car’s pretensions towards spaciousness if you happen to enter it after trying most other common compact EV, say BMWs i3 or this Kia’s close cousin the Hyundai Kona electric.
There’s significantly more cabin width than you get in either of those cars, one thousand four hundred and twenty-three millimeters of shoulder room to be exact, and more legroom to up to one thousand and fifty-nine millimeters of it here at the front.
Perhaps more significantly it’s big enough in the Niro to allow a potential buyer to switch out of a conventional mid-sized SUV, say a Sportage, into one of these without a feeling of having switched down in size. We’re struggling to think of any other affordable electric vehicle of which that is true.
In terms of the cabin features the main change lies with the change from a conventional gearshift lever to a central circular controller for the single-speed transmission.
This shift by wire dial provides the focal point extending out from the base of the mid-mounted armrest that also incorporates buttons for the parking brake, the drive mode selector as well as for the heated seats, the heated steering wheel, the parking sensors, and the braking auto hold switch.
Other unique Niro features are more difficult to spot. You might pick up the extra blue dashboard trimming highlights, but you’d be unlikely to notice that the front seats are different redesigned to save space and weight but just as supportive as the conventional chairs they replace thanks to especially dense foam-backed covers.
More subtle differences can be found incorporated into the eight-inch center infotainment touchscreen. This allows you to locate nearby charging points and set departure times to preheat and pre-cool the cabin, or if you want to feel particularly smug.
It’s possible to call up a display allowing you to gauge as a trip or vehicle lifetime CO2 saving gained from driving your E-Niro compared to a petrol car of similar size.
Physical shortcut buttons around the monitor’s frame are helpful but the graphical resolution isn’t up to BMW or Volkswagen standards, and some of the touchscreen icons are a little on the small side which can make hitting them on the move a little awkward.
The display also has all the usual connectivity and entertainment features. There is navigation, voice control, apple car play or android auto smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker 320 what JBL premium sound system with the DAB tuner. Plus you get the full suite of Kia connected services created in association with TomTom satellite navigation.
Activate the connectable Wi-Fi system to your phone and via these, you can find four-day weather forecasts, be advised of speed camera locations, get live traffic information that can reroute you around jams and use a local search function that can direct your E-Niro to anything from a supermarket to a service station.
Anything the center screen can’t tell you will almost certainly be covered off by the instrument cluster display you view through the leather stitch – 3 spoke steering wheel. Kia has plans to further update this but here in this original car, you get a curious mixture of circular LED dials and a central seven-inch LCD screen.
In the dial areas the gauge on the Left combines a state of charge battery gauge with the blue and white power or charge meter, and a digital range readout, the right-hand gauge includes eight digital speedos.
On the color screen in between, there are all kinds of useful displays, the usual ones for audio selection a compass and safety systems and a few bespoke screens specifically for this EV including one that gauges your driving style showing the proportion of any given journey given over to either economical or dynamic driving.
As for practical touches, well, you’d hope that doing without a conventional gear stick might free up a little extra storage space at the base of the center console, which to some extent, has happened here.
There’s a big open storage area at the base of the center stack, and you also gain a useful storage area between the seats with a lidded top that slides to reveal two large cup holders with neat pop out holding panels.
On an E-Niro it’s also easier to get to this compartment at the bottom of the center stack, which includes a standard wireless phone charging mat above a 12-volt port and a couple of USB points. It’s a pity all this can’t be covered neatly away from prying eyes though.
You’ll find another USB point in this deep storage box between the seats, while other storage areas include these rather small door pockets, a reasonably sized two glove box and overhead space for your sunglasses. Ticket clips feature in the Sun visors
Are their issues? Well, not many. Kia hopes that this E-Niro model’s high specification level will distract potential buyers attention from the fact that this is essentially the kind of cabin you’d expect from a car costing just over $25,000, not one priced at just over $30,000
Don’t get me wrong, it’s pleasantly designed and in some ways quite plush with black leather upholstery featuring white stitching and white piping, plus a heated steering wheel and heated front seats.
All of this is certainly nice to have but it’s soon clear the cabins been constructed to a tight budget. Closer inspection of some areas of the leather trim reveals that elements of it are of the faux leather variety, and smartly finished fitments you’ll use frequently, the steering regeneration paddles and the door handles, for instance, feel rather plastic to the touch.
On the plus side though getting comfortable is easy. Powered lumbar support features on the driver’s seat and this reach as well as rake adjustment for the steering wheel, something you don’t get with a rival Nissan Leaf.
And there are some very thoughtful design touches, take the way the wireless charging mat lets you know with a beep and a green light when your handset is fully charged, and you’ll be warned if you’re about to leave the car with the phone still on the pad.
Another nice feature is the lamp integrated into the top of the dashboard, which incorporates a light that displays when your E-Niro is plugged in and shows you whether the battery pack is recharging or fully charged. That will enable you to quickly see the Kia’s charged status at a glance from outside the car.
Rear Cabin Space
We mentioned earlier that the E-Niro offers a cabin that feels a touch larger for most similarly priced EV rivals, that’s because it’s 2700 millimeter wheelbase, the cabin length between its front and rear wheels is longer. To give you some class perspective that figure is a hundred millimeters longer than a Hyundai Kona electric and 130 millimeters lengthier than a BMW i3. An advantage you’d expect would pay dividends when it comes to rear-seat space.
Backseat space is probably the biggest difference between this car and its Hyundai Kona electric cousin, which offers a significantly smaller rear compartment with 19 millimeters less leg space. Perhaps just as significant is the fact that this E-Niro offers slightly more rear passenger room the most more affordable conventional c-segment family SUV’s.
Kia’s mid-sized Sportage crossover for instance, maybe lengthier externally but has a wheelbase thirty millimeters shorter. Unfortunately there you can’t recline the backrest in the way you can on Sportage, which on that car improves headspace for really lofty passengers.
Rear Cabin Headroom
Mind you, the headspace available of 993 millimeters isn’t bad, at all a couple of six-footers would fit in quite easily. And with 950 millimeters of legroom, this should be reasonably comfortable on longer trips, even if they were placed behind to similarly tall passengers upfront.
You’ll even fit in three adults in the back slightly more easily than would be the case with most similarly sized rival models. That’s thanks to the way that the relatively wide 1805 millimeter body provides 1402 millimeters of shoulder room. But of course, you can’t have everything, sliding rear seat bases, for instance, don’t tend to feature on any EV and sure enough, those provided here are firmly fixed in place.
Rear Cabin Storage
You don’t get any charging ports in the rear either, still, you do get seatback storage nets, a couple of ISOFIX child seat mounts for the two outer seats, twin Center vents and a center armrest with a couple of cupholders. The door cards look smart with white stitched pools and piano plaque trimming, plus there are compact lower bins incorporating bottle holders.
E-Niro Trunk Capacity
Not long ago it was a given that a fully electric car would give you less luggage space than a comparable sized combustion engine model thanks to the usual positioning of the EV battery pack beneath the cargo area floor.
On the self-charging hybrid and p HEV plug-in hybrid versions of this car it still is, but on the E-Niro the liquid-cooled lithium-ion polymer battery system sits further forward beneath the passenger compartment.
Swing up the large tailgate and you’ll find a very generously proportioned trunk area that’s usefully square and 451 liters in size, which is 69 liters more than you get on the self-charging hybrid variant and a massive 127 liters more than is offered by the PHEV Niro model.
That’s better than you get from most family hatchbacks and pretty close to the luggage capacity you’d enjoy with a conventionally engined family SUV. A Kia Sportage for reference offers a 491 liter trunk.
In the affordable electric vehicle sector, a Nissan Leaf gets somewhere near this E-Niro capacity figure, but other similarly sized EVs are way off. To give you some perspective, a Hyundai Kona Electric has 332 liters and a BMW-i3 just 260 liters.
A lot of figures but what does it all boil down to? Well, on an airport run you’ll be able to fit five carry-on cases in the trunk, that’s one more than could be accommodated by a Hyundai Kona electric, though it’s worth mentioning that we managed to fit two more carry-on bags in when we tried a Nissan Leaf.
Four silver tie-down points are provided but you don’t get any bag hooks, nor is there a 12-volt point in the trunk. More significantly there’s no adjustable height boot floor either, but the floor base is a hinge and when you raise it various compartmentalized areas are revealed.
The main central one will be taken up with the two charging leads but outer compartments are available for the storage of smaller items, plus helpfully there’s enough width to allow you to stow the tonneau cover when it’s not in use. Drop the 60/40 split and tip back seat and you get an almost flat cargo area offering up to one thousand four hundred and five liters of total fresh air.
Battery Capacity Of The Niro EV?
Kia launched this E-Niro with one single top-line speck badged the first edition which is what we tested. Unlike this model’s close cousin the Hyundai Kona electric it isn’t being offered with an entry-level 39-kilowatt-hour battery, though such an option is available in other markets.
British buyers only get the top 64-kilowatt hour variants, which with this plush trim package was pitched from launched at a price that would set buyers back around $40,000.
Kia could sell it for less with a lower level of spec but at the time of this test with waiting lists stretching for months in advance, there was simply no need for the brand to do so.
Range Capacity Of An E-Niro?
If the range we quote comes across differ significantly from the ones we mention, it’ll probably be because they’ve been compiled using the older less accurate NEDC cycle test. Anyway, let’s start with models you might be looking at from within the Hyundai IKEA conglomerate, beginning with the two EV’s that share virtually all elements of this car’s advanced drivetrain.
Namely, the Hyundai Kona electric just mentioned which offers a two hundred and seventy-nine-mile driving range, and the second generation version of Kia’s Soul EV which has two hundred and eighty-mile range.
The Kona electric can be had in 64-kilowatt hour form with a base premium spec for $180 less than an E-Niro but is more comparable premium SE trim a sixty-four kilowatt-hour Kona Electric will cost you two $2300 more. Even though it’s got less rear passenger space and a much smaller boot.
You could argue that the Kona looks trendier than the Niro, but your Kia dealer will have a ready answer for that objection. For just $1000 more than this E-Niro, you can have kids fashionable little soul EV with a 64-kilowatt hour powertrain and comparably plush first edition trim. But again, the soul is significantly smaller inside than the E-Niro.
You might also want to know how the pricing of this model compares to what’s being asked for other zero-emission models in the full EV market’s most affordable segment.
In purchasing a car of this kind, range and battery size is everything, which is why with 282 miles of EPA rated driving range the buying proposition of this E-Niro 64 kilowatt-hour model looks so compelling.
Apart from the Kona Electric and the Soul EV the only compact segment model that can take this care on in this regard is the top a plus 62-kilowatt-hour version of Nissan’s Leaf, but that car costs nearly $3600 more and has a lower potential driving range of 239 miles.
Normal versions of the Leaf which is the EV market sales leader, are usually sold with a 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack offering a range of 186 miles and are priced in the $33,000 to $37,000 bracket.
If an EV model with the kind of lower driving range you’d get from a battery pack sized at around the 40-kilowatt-hour mark would be sufficient for your needs, it’s now a reasonable amount of choice in this segment. Hyundai offers two options, both priced in the $29,000 to $33,000 bracket depending on the trim level chosen.
One of them we referenced earlier, the lesser 39-kilowatt hour version of the Kona Electric which will give you a 180-mile range. The brand also offers its Prius sized ionic family hatch, which in full electric form has a 38.3-kilowatt-hour battery and offers a range of 182 miles.
You might also be looking at BMW-i3 another car with a battery pack sized at around the 40-kilowatt hour mark. In the full-electric form, the BMW i3 offers 192 miles of driving range and costs from around $40,000.
Before leaving the issue of price comparisons it’s worth pointing out that even if you move way upmarket, and pay almost twice as much for a premium-badged large luxury segment EV you’ll still struggle to beat the 282 mile EPA driving range of this Kia.
A standard Tesla Model S offers 230 miles, an Audi E-Tron Quattro 55 offers 241 miles, a BMW IX3 manages 249 miles and a Mercedes EQC delivers 259 miles.
A Jaguar I pace at 292 miles is only fractionally superior to an e Niro, and to give you some perspective the top-performing EV models in this regard, long-range versions of the Tesla Model S and the Tesla Model 3, manage EPA readings of 315 and 348 miles respectively.
Let’s say you’re convinced, and which is by no means certain you’ve managed to get yourself a place on what at the time of this test was a fairly lengthy E-Niro buyers waiting list, just how generous has Kia been with a standard spec?
All the key electric drive elements come fitted of course throughout the range, the single-speed push button auto transmission, regenerative brake shift paddles and a drive mode selector with a choice of sport or ECO settings. Oh and two charging cables a seven in type 2 AC charging lead, and an emergency AC charging lead connector.
As for other features let’s start with the exterior stuff you get roof rails and 17-inch diamond-cut 2-tone alloy wheels, plus also halogen headlamps with bi function projection, LED daytime running lights and follow me home functionality that keeps the headlamps lit when you leave the car at night to see it to your front door.
Also included is solar glass with dark privacy tinting at the rear, LED rear lamp clusters, front fog lights power, folding heated mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers, a keyless entry smart entry system and a rear parking camera.
Plus a package of useful camera-driven safety items we’ll cover off in a minute. An alarm is also standard, but unfortunately, a spare wheel isn’t.
Inside there’s leather upholstery that’s heated at the front and an eight-way electrically operated driver’s seat with powered lumbar support, plus you get a heated leather stitched steering wheel, a trip computer, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
A wireless phone charger 4qi equipped handsets are provided, or as an alternative, a fast-charge USB port is incorporated into the center console and both auxiliary and standard USB points are also included.
You additionally get an adaptive a smart cruise control system that can regulate your distance to the vehicle in front of the highway, and includes a stop-and-go function that can if necessary, even slow you down to a stop and seamlessly start you off again if you come across a tailback.
Infotainment is taken care of by an eight-inch touchscreen center dash display incorporating navigation, voice control, Bluetooth, and apple car play or Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
Also built-in is an eight-speaker 320 that JBL premium sound system with a DAB tuner, a subwoofer, an external amplifier, and a central speaker.
And the infotainment setup includes Kia’s useful package of connected services including the TomTom live system so that you can be alerted to speed cameras, updated on the weather and provided with accurate information on traffic jams and roadworks.
Through pre-downloaded apps this setup also gives access to a variety of services such as Google Maps Navigation, google play music, hands-free calls, and text messages.
If you can use apple car play you’ll be able to use full Siri voice control of your phone’s apps and functions while linking the car to Apple Maps or Google Maps, calls and text dictation, music streaming and audiobooks.
So much for all the standard spec of this car, what about options? Well, there aren’t many, well actually there aren’t any unless you count the choice Kia offers of five different paint colors, which includes optional or premium shades that will cost you extra.
The choice is between silky silver, midnight black, white pearl, gravity blue or graphite. Bear in mind, that if you’re new to the world of EV motoring you’ll need to budget the extra you’re going to need to install a charging wall box in your garage.
How Safe Is The Niro EV?
Over 53% of the body is fashioned from ultra-high-strength steel and features a rigid structure reinforced in critical areas including crumple zones front and rear, and anti-intrusion beams at the sides.
To build on this Kia has included most key elements of its camera-driven safety technology as standard. The most significant feature is the FCA or forwards collision avoidance assist system with pedestrian and cyclist detection.
As you drive the FCA camera scans the road ahead in search of potential accident hazards. If something or someone is detected the forward collision warning element of the system will alert you, if you don’t respond or aren’t able to the brakes will automatically be applied to decrease the severity of any resulting accident.
This setup automatically switches between three operational modes. City to prevent low-speed urban accidents at up to 13 miles an hour, into-urban which operates between 31 and 50 miles an hour and pedestrian which detects pedestrians and other vulnerable road users such as cyclists at up to 44 miles an hour.
Also standard is LDW or lane departure warning which warns you if you drift out of your lane on the highway. At that point in LKA or lane-keeping assistant automatically cuts in using subtle steering guidance to ease the car back into the right position on the road.
A further lane control tool is provided by Lane following Assist which works in conjunction with the standard adaptive smart cruise control system . And at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour helps to keep you in the center of your lane on the highway also by subtly controlling the steering.
There’s also a speed limit indicator function that pictures road signs as you pass and displays them on the dash, high-beam assist that will automatically dip your headlights at night in the face of oncoming traffic and a DAW or driver attention warning feature that monitors your reactions for drowsiness, and if necessary, will prompt you to stop for a rest.
There is also a blind spot collision warning which alerts you if you’re about to pull out when there’s a vehicle in your blind spot, and there’s a leading vehicle departure alert feature that works in a traffic queue alerting you when the vehicle in front has moved off.
As for more familiar standard safety stuff, well, like every Niro model this one offers twin front sight and curtain airbags, but also includes the driver’s knee bag that’s missing on a Hyundai Kona electric and on several key rivals.
There’s also ESC electronic stability control and VSM, or vehicles to team management. The ABS brakes have a brake assist feature that helps in emergency stops that’ll be advertised to following motorists by an emergency stop signaling feature that flashes the hazard lights to let them know what’s going on.
Theirs ISOFIX child seat mountings for the two rear outer seats, a tire pressure monitoring system that keeps an eye out for punctures and a hill-start assist control feature to prevent the car from rolling backward as you set off on inclines. Plus a cut-off switch allows a child safety chair to be positioned on the front seat.
We’ve always said that EV sales would only start to take off once the driving range of affordable contenders has become long enough for a full battery-powered model to make sense as an only car. Has that happened here?
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere in this article a Kia E-Niro is EPA rated at 282 miles between charges, about four times as far as you could go in the earliest version of the Nissan Leaf.
This figure even 96 miles greater than the volume 40 kilowatt-hour version of that leaf can travel today. This gear has a similar range advantage over most other popular compact EV’s, cars like the all-electric version of BMW i3.
There’s a much pricier 62 kilowatt-hour E Plus version of the Nissan Leaf that gives you 239 miles, but even there, this Kia’s significant advantage remains.
In fact to equal what’s on offer you’ve either to compromise on interior space and choose between two identically engineered models from the honed IKEA conglomerate, the Kia Soul EV and the Hyundai Kona electric.
Or pay nearly twice as much for something like a Jaguar Ipace or a Tesla Model 3, neither of which will take you much further on a single charge.
In testing electric cars we’ve often tended to take driving range figures, be they any DC or EPC based, with a rather large pinch of salt. This one’s different. In our testing, we found it relatively easy to regularly break the 200-mile mark, which is about 75 to 80 miles more than we’ve managed in rivals like the i3 or the Leaf.
If this car was used with a modicum of restraint with no difficulty in believing that around 250 miles would be possible, which is the kind of figure we sometimes struggle to get from really pricey Tesla models.
To maximize your driving range you’re going to need to make copious use of the various driving aids Kia provides. There’s a power charge driving gauge to the left of the instrument binnacle, the idea being to keep the needle in the blue charged band as often as possible.
To the right of this in the binnacle there’s a central screen that can be selected to display a driving style readout, which will award you percentage readings for economical, normal and dynamic progress.
Your other key to maximizing efficiency is to effectively harvest regenerative braking energy, which sounds complicated but isn’t. The paddles behind the wheel allow you to dial in up to three levels of braking energy, the most aggressive of these allowing the car to pretty much stop on its own.
That won’t do much for the smoothness of your everyday progress but the payoff is that driving range expectations can be reached much more easily. Alternatively, the car can look after the whole regeneration thing for you with an auto regeneration setting the activates software able to use the car radar transceiver to constantly measure the distance to the vehicle in front.
Two other useful efficiency tools are included within the cars ECO DAD, or ECO driving assistant system.
There’s predictive energy control which helps you maximize driving range by suggesting when to coast or brake, and also CGC, or coasting guide control which takes information from the navigation system so that the car can anticipate road conditions to reduce energy use and identifies opportunities to harvest additional electric power through coasting.
CGC will alert you as to the best time to lift off the accelerator and coast towards a junction, allowing the battery to regenerate under engine deceleration. Sleek aerodynamics help to maximize driving range to, an E-Niro has a drag coefficient of 0.2 9 CD which is good for an SUV, achieved thanks to great attention to exterior detailing.
A rear diffuser aids airflow under the car, there are specially profiled door mirror casings and even the holes in the flush-fitted roof rails are covered.
As an e Niro owner, you’ll be using the EV menu of the center dash touchscreen rather a lot and four sections of it in particular. Most frequently we’ve used the map display option which uses colored radius graphics on a country map to show the extent of the journey you could undertake with the battery range the car has remaining.
Plus this particular screen has a list button that can show you all your local charging points and direct you to the nearest one.
The second important EV menu option is the Energy Information section that shows both your total driving range, with or without the climate control on, and your remaining battery charge percentage.
Plus it’ll tell you how much energy is being used by the cars driving climate, and electrical features. And it’ll advise you at any given time how long charge replenishment will take either from an AC or a DC charging point.
A third charge management section is very useful in the way that it allows you to preset charging times for cheaper off-peak electricity rates.
And finally, if you want to feel Smuggler’s you survey other road users you can switch to an ECO driving section that shows you the CO2 reduction you’ve achieved compared to a gasoline car of a similar size. The history section shows how much this is varied over time.
Replenishing a battery pack this big isn’t for the faint-hearted but provided it can be done overnight most owners will be more than satisfied. That’s easily possible in this E-Niro and while charging is taking place the vehicles incorporated battery heating system will slightly warm the lithium-ion cells minimizing the effects of cold temperatures.
E-Niro Fast Charging
If you haven’t got a charging wall box in your garage you’re going to need one, a 7.2-kilowatt unit that your dealer can arrange to be fitted via Kia. Once your box is in place you’ll be able to revive your E-Niro battery cells from empty in around nine and a half hours, that’s three times quicker than it would take if you merely plug this car into a domestic supply.
E-Niro Charging Rate
If when you’re out and about you can find a CCS charging point with a 50 kilowatt DC fast charger you’ll find that a zero to 80 percent rapid charge will take around 75 minutes. In the very unlikely event, you come across a 100 kilowatt DC fast charging, that replenishment time will be reduced to just 54 minutes for 80% of capacity.
As for your warranty, well, it’s the usual comprehensive care deal. A 7-year 100,000-mile package that comes as standard and also covers the battery and the electric motor. There’s also a 12-year anti-perforation warranty and five years of paint warranty and five years of paint warranty.
Kia E-Niro Service Interval
Maintenance will be cheaper than it would be for a combustion engine, an electric vehicle does, after all, have 20% fewer moving parts. Service intervals are on an E narrow are every year or every 10,000 miles, which is quite a bit more frequent than a rival Nissan Leaf which is every 18,000 miles.
The Korean brand offers various Kia care prepaid service plans if you want you can even purchase a package that will cover the car for the full length of its warranty.
If you’re wondering about residual values, well, these will vary depending on the future market take-up of EV’s. At the moment any electric vehicle will shed its value faster than conventional petrol or diesel model, but that state of affairs could change very quickly as prevailing public opinion is shaped by the media.
How Green is The E-Niro
Some in the green lobby get very angry about the whole pure electric car zero emissions ethos. They reckon that ignores the well 2-wheel demands of supplying the electricity that powers cars of this kind.
We would respond by pointing out that these people usually completely overlook the fact that CO2 figures for conventional cars fail to take into account the logistical cost of getting fuel to the pump.
Still, if you’re one of those enviro conscious people will tell you using a well two wheels calculation based on typical use of the energy grid, the burden of filling your batteries in this car will result in a theoretical sixty to g/km of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. That’s certainly good but some way from being completely green.
Which is also a comment you could apply to electric vehicle engineering as a whole. Lithium-ion batteries aren’t recyclable in the way that the fuel cells used in hydrogen-powered vehicles are, currently when EV vehicles are reaching the end of their lives the batteries are being reused as electricity storage buffers.
After that, they can’t simply be scrapped because lithium-ion has explosive elements, so these batteries are simply being buried in landfills which is hardly sustainable in the long term for humankind, but then nor is the pollution caused by combustion power.
If you see the EV solution as the lesser of the two evils and your purchase of a battery-powered model must be contained within a reasonable budget, we think it’s difficult to ignore this one.