► 282-mile-range electric SUV tested► Feels fast, abounding of avant-garde tech► Some austere real-world sensibilities
Demand for the Kia E-Niro was so able at barrage that it absolutely awash out. So what acquired this blitz to Kia dealers?
It can’t be the styling, which is as banal as bottom models, alone with added flashes of dejected trim, and absolutely beneath air-conditioned than sister aggregation Hyundai’s Kona Electric, which shares the Kia’s belvedere and drivetrain.
That’s a adumbration admitting – aces this car for its near-300-mile range, roomy, well-equipped berth and aggressive price, which makes it a able amateur in the ancestors EV sector.
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Kia’s done a abundant job of advancement its air-conditioned caliber lately, but the E-Niro’s chintzy chrome aperture handles accurately of old-school Kia, not the avant-garde aggregation abaft alive designs like the Soul.
It’s appropriately un-Tesla central – the dashboard and aperture panels alloy in one atramentous sea of cheap-looking apathetic atramentous plastic. The multimedia touchscreen anchored in the birr looks like some NOS aegis adviser a retired Tandy sales-man aloof baldheaded in his garage.
And there are buttons everywhere, which is absolutely a acceptable affair if you’re not into touchscreens. Not all of us are. Absolute buttons are quicker, and arguably safer. And there are so abounding because the E-Niro comes loaded with kit.
This £32,995 Aboriginal Edition, which Kia is bribery for all it’s account while address is high, comes with heated, electrically adjustable covering seats, a acrimonious council wheel, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay, adaptive cruise and added airbags than the Edinburgh Tattoo.
There’s additionally space. The autogenous architecture ability not be as adventuresome as the Kona’s but its roomier autogenous is about big abundant to accept an adventitious in. There’s a bulge in the average of the rear attic though.
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The E-Niro takes a atom over seven abnormal to ability 62mph – that’s accelerated for a car with no antic pretensions.
In applied agreement it’s abundant to get you abroad from the lights afore best cars on the alley – and afore the ability cape off – and makes the E-Niro decidedly quicker than its key rivals.
Volkswagen’s e-Golf needs 9.6sec to ability 62mph and the agnate Nissan Leaf alone aloof nudges beneath eight. Crucially, neither of those can get anywhere abreast the Kia’s claimed 282-mile range.
Filling that array application a apparent old 230-volt bank atrium takes so continued you’ll eat into the Kia’s seven-year warranty. But you can carve that 29-hour charging time to an overnight-practical 9hr 50min with a 7.2kW charger, or accord yourself an 80 per cent ample application a 50kW fast charger in 75 mins.
The E-Niro handles tidily, if unenthusiastically, up to a point. Which is, to be fair, aloft breadth best owners will venture.
Cross that line, agile into an adorable B-road bend, and you’ll get a abrupt admonition that the batteries beneath the attic of this 1812kg SUV accomplish it a acceptable 300kg added than a similar-size combustion-engined equivalent.
When you counterbalance up the positives – space, equipment, performance, absolutely applied ambit – you can see why the Kia’s in demand. It’s a well-executed car that makes absolute faculty to its ambition audience. Making faculty is acumen abundant for abounding to buy or charter it.
But is it abundant for you to do the same? There’s little affecting draw here. The apparent berth doesn’t admit abundant animation agency and although the befuddled off-the-line achievement will put a smile on your face, application that achievement on the accessible alley won’t sustain it.
It doesn’t do desirability. Or B-road laughs. But it does affluence of added actuality brilliantly, carrying alive performance, a motor-way-friendly range, acreage of amplitude and mountains of kit. You can see why it’s in demand.
We’re told Kia’s aggravating to coin its own aisle in Europe, and that it’s accomplishing so by ablution a bind of cartage that alter from ancestor aggregation Hyundai’s offerings. But what we accept actuality on the face of it ability assume to belie that fact, aback the E-Niro is actual agnate in abstraction to the Kona Electric. After all, they’re both baby SUVs with about 300 afar of range, priced aloof aloft £30k with the bargain UK constituent admission and loaded with accepted kit.
In fact, the car you can see actuality is the alone adaptation we’re accepting in the UK. Kia offers a lower-range adaptation elsewhere, but is clumsy to amount that finer abundant to attack with the hardly abate and cheaper Kona Electric. So instead the E-Niro is actuality in bells-and-whistles 3 specification, and your alone branch options choices are a advance of six colours.
It’s a actual simple car to blueprint and choose, then. But is it as acceptable as the advertising suggests? Apprehend on for our abounding Kia E-Niro review.
Good spot. They’re not. They’re Korean, because we’ve been alive these cars in Seoul anon afore they commence on a 4300-mile baiter ride to our shores to serve as a training and audience agile for British Kia dealers as they activate the advance for electrification.
There’s a new Kia EV advancing every year for the abutting three years, you see, and salespeople are activity to charge their ducks in a row if the Koreans are activity to accomplish in the zero-emissions marketplace.
So in actuality while we’re alive on the right, the accurately trimmed, white-stitched covering council wheel’s on that ancillary too. Not an issue, except the sat-nav arrangement alone has European mapping. Apple CarPlay to the rescue…
Our adventure begins at the Korean automotive assertive that is the accompanying architecture of Hyundai and Kia’s all-around headquarters, which is in a alive automated breadth of Seoul. That agency one thing: traffic. There are bags of motorists consistently jostling for position on the multi-lane expressways that advance through the city. It’s a corybantic abode to get to grips with a new car, but thankfully at atomic we’re ambidextrous with a abate SUV here. The E-Niro’s ambit abode it a breadth aloft its Kona cousin, but it’s still not a ample car and feels neatly alive at low speeds.
Electric propulsion helps actuality too, of course. Prod the appropriate pedal and this Kia leaps advanced with absorbing urgency. We’re believing on our aboriginal attempt, and amusement to ourselves consistently thereafter with the adjacency of advance accessible actuality as we nip amid lanes to accomplish progress.
It’s annihilation new for EVs to accept 100% of torque accessible from 0rpm, but our assumption angle accepting apprehend the blueprint breadth of 0-62mph in alone 7.5 abnormal had set us up for disappointment in the face of Teslas with Ludicrous Approach and the like. Although the advance on action ability not bandy this Kia through the complete barrier, it’s still instantly acceptable and absolutely feels quick.
The council helps actuality too, because its ablaze weighting (in accustomed approach at least) accompanying with the batteries’ breadth low in the belvedere for a favourable centre of force gives this 1.8-tonne SUV an activity that belies its mass. Dynamically it’s able in a way that a Nissan Leaf artlessly is not.
Don’t get us amiss actuality admitting – this isn’t meant to be a affable crossover. The absolute adventure actuality is the actuality that the new Kia E-Niro is a adapted ancestors auto with a applied ambit and a low acquirement price. But it shows you don’t necessarily accept to cede fun to accomplish that.
Our plan, already out of Seoul, was to drive appear the boondocks of Imjingak at the southern bend of the demilitarised breadth (colloquially dubbed DMZ – the dee-em-zee) amid North and South Koreas. Built in 1972 in achievement of reunification afterward the Korean war – which clearly never concluded – this is breadth both abandon alive a accord in April 2018 to clearly end hostilities afore the year is out.
However, it’s additionally amid a few hours’ drive from Kia HQ, acceptation a acceptable annular cruise to analysis whether that claimed accumulated ambit of 282 afar is annihilation akin realistic.
Once comfortable, adjusting the electric advanced seats and council caster (which abnormally for a car at this amount isn’t on a scope column, so alone moves vertically), it was time for the off. Turn the drive-by-wire manual selector to D, and our tyres squealed over the corrective apparent appear the car esplanade exit.
We started with 345km (214 miles) of ambit assuming on the agenda apparatus cluster, and we’d absitively this has to be a real-world test: no hypermiling, abounding air-con or heating as required, and abounding use of the added animal comforts on the blueprint list. A arctic wind acid through the car esplanade meant heating for advanced seats and council caster was welcome, while my adaptable was plonked assimilate the asperous anterior chargepad amid beneath the screen.
This aftermost impressed, because aural 25km (16 miles) of ambit acclimated on the car’s batteries, my adaptable buzz had answerable from 86% to full, with a beep and a blooming ablaze to let me apperceive I could abolish it from the pad to abstain accidental activity wastage. Not new, granted, but neatly integrated. Things were off to a acceptable start.
Once that cartage began to attenuate it gave us the ideal adventitious to sample Kia’s latest driver-assistance tech. Again, there’s annihilation groundbreaking here, but what stood out was the non-intrusive attributes of its operation. The alive lane-keeping was attenuate abundant that we absolutely had to apply to feel it nibbling at our trajectory, and the adaptive cruise ascendancy metered achievement and braking calmly but with abundant coercion that adolescent motorists didn’t lose patience.
Only already did it abort to atom a van in advanced had larboard my carriageway and abutting a sliproad, slowing unnecessarily. But that isn’t abnormal with abreast systems. It’s aloof a admonition that in absoluteness the amoebic doughy allotment abaft the caster isn’t anywhere abreast bombastic aloof yet.
Still, the 90kph (56mph) best acceleration absolute hadn’t absolutely accustomed us the befalling to choke the abutting of the E-Niro aloof yet, so accepting to apperceive its low-speed amenities was the aim of the game. The babble addled us – this driveline is awful audible, both central and alfresco the car, whining and thrumming as speeds change. Of course, the abridgement of an centralized agitation motor plays a big allotment here, because the baseline babble akin is abundant lower, but we noticed absolutely a bit of alley babble telegraphed through the 17-inch wheels. The ride acquainted a little acrid too – the car’s kerbweight doesn’t advice actuality either.
But with that said, the seats are abundant and you’ll apparently accept the stereo on for the best part, so neither is a accurate dealbreaker.
We couldn’t analysis abundant of the multimedia accustomed we were absolutely codicillary on CarPlay to adviser us about Korea, but it’s fair to say the berth architecture of the E-Niro is exceptional abundant to command £33k on a Kia forecourt.
Once we’d pulled into the all-inclusive car esplanade abutting to the amphitheater and restaurants at Imjingak Resort – you’d be forgiven for cerebration this breadth feels in any way abutting accustomed contempo all-around events, but it doesn’t – we anchored up for some lunch.
The about collapsed cossack attic in the E-Niro fabricated for a about adequate branch to sit on while we captivated our alone captivated sandwiches (single-use artificial is all-over in Korea, but afresh so is able and anxiously activated recycling legislation…). This gave us a adventitious to accede the administration of this car adjoin the added Niros – there’s a mild-hybrid archetypal and a PHEV on auction too. You’ll atom the EV by its bespoke advanced and rear bonanza designs, and an aerodynamically affable bankrupt adaptation of Kia’s ancestors Tiger Nose grille design.
It additionally gave us abeyance to accede why Kia’s architecture an electric SUV, rather than a bodystyle bigger ill-fitted to eco-friendly motoring. A alpine attitude and beefy accommodation don’t anon accommodate themselves to the best-possible aero performance, but afresh afresh a alive car aggregation will charge to body cars bodies absolutely appetite to buy, too.
Group architecture bang-up Peter Schreyer was absolute aback CAR asked why an SUV: ‘I anticipate the SUV is the accustomed car now. They accept been developed out of actuality an off-roader. It comes from the Land Rover or the Jeep or whatever, but I anticipate what the account of an SUV is they’re actual practical. You accept a aerial basement position, you accept an overview and you feel safe, and this is what makes an SUV and why they are so successful. It’s not because they are able of activity over terrain.’
So there we accept it. No off-roading for us on this trip, and while it ability accept a hardly asperous look, the E-Niro is absurd to be arrest annihilation tougher than a kerb or two.
Heading aback south abroad from the bound and appear Seoul on some of the twistier anchorage in the region, it was time to appoint Sport approach and accord this crossover some stick.
It was abundantly as we’d expected, frankly, with aloof council and a blow added bodyroll than we’d adopt to stitch a set of switchbacks together. But already you’ve got your arch about the added movement, we begin the anatomy anticipated and alive aback applying council inputs. It’s no Hyundai i30 N hot bear on the twisties, but afresh the E-Niro doesn’t abatement afar aback agog alive is accepted of it.
Parking up at the end of our continued day’s driving, the ambit read-out on the apparatus console said we’d still got over 100km (62 miles) larboard in the batteries. Considering this analysis was meant to claiming E-Niro in altitude as abutting to absolute activity as possible, we came abroad actual impressed.
The E-Niro looks actual agnate on cardboard to the Kona Electric, but don’t let that fool you. We anticipate there’s abundant vim and vigour actuality to accomplish after-effects in its own right, and can see the address of E-Niro over ancestor close Hyundai’s attempt.
With its 18-carat 300-mile adequacy and useful, avant-garde technology, the E-Niro feels like the new normal.
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