We drove the Kia e-Niro: an EV-range trendsetter…

The Kia Niro is already a few years amongst us, first electrified as hybrid, then plug-in hybrid, and finally as a “pure” EV.

The competition has become a lot stronger since its introduction, notably with newcomers as the Volkswagen ID.3, the Peugeot 2008 and the Citroën ë-C4, but this Kia still has a lot of qualities which make it still earn very well an excellent place its segment. Of course, Kia is ready for this competition, and at the moment of this test going to press, it presents a completely new version of the Niro at the Seoul motor show, but the present model is still relevant enough to put it through its paces for you here.

We should also not forget that this Kia EV with its 64 kW battery set the trend towards longer ranges: according to the WLTP norm, it is still good for 455 km…and on top of that, it offers very good value for money, with a 7 year guarantee!

Hans Knol ten Bensel

The Kia Niro still has very pleasing and now already familiar looks, with some specific blue coloured accents for the EV version. The front end clearly shows its EV character, and also the flap of the charging sockets is clearly visible. The cabin is well laid out, with classic disposition of instrumentation, commands and central touchscreen, so indeed one would hardly suspect sitting in an EV vehicle. This is all for the better, as one is very soon familiarised in using and driving this Niro.

The display in front of you clearly indicates of course battery status and range, as well as the immediate or average consumption in KW/h. Soon one notices that this 150 kW or 204 HP Kia is quite frugal, where your driving style is of prime importance of course.

The manufacturer quotes 15,9 kW/h according to the overall quite realistic WLTP cycle. We took the test car on a lengthy trip to Holland, using the ECO mode throughout, and easily achieved an average of 17 kW/h.

It was delicious to be able to make this trip without the usual range anxiety, and on top of that to find plenty of public charging points in the Netherlands, not even 50 meters away from the house of the family member where we stayed over the weekend. All in all, in this ECO mode, a range of over 400 kilometers is even in more wintry conditions easily achievable when adopting a normal driving style.

Having said this, EV cars have decidedly come of age with our northern neighbours, where the e-Niro has been the top selling car in 2020 by the way…

Smoothness combined with power…

As a pure EV befits, “Zen” like feline and vibrationless power is for you to enjoy here. On the centre console is a familiar circular knob which lets you choose between drive and reverse, as we have seen in Jaguars and Land Rovers.

Off you go, and indeed, this Kia has under the hood what it takes. The front wheels are driven, and will pull you from 0 to 100 km/h in merely 7,8 seconds, which is no small feat as one knows that the kerb weight of the e-Niro is 1712 kg. Top speed is a very creditable 167 km/h. So performance wise, one is rather spoiled too, besides of course the uncanny smoothness and silence of the drivetrain.

There are paddles at the steering wheel column which let you choose the amount of regenerative braking, so “one pedal” driving is easy to achieve.

On the technical side, let us tell you here that our test car was equipped with the lithium-polymer 64 kW/h battery and that the permanent magnet synchronous motor has a power of 150 kW/204 HP and 395 Nm of torque.

For home charging, one is of course well advised to install a three-phase wallbox. With the optional three phase onboard charger, you can be fully charged in some 4,5 hours.

Roomy and practical

The e-Niro is quite roomy, with sufficient legroom also for taller passengers in the rear, with standard luggage space being a good 451 and 1405 liters.

With the rear cover in place, the volume is reduced to 280 and 1175 liters respectively. In the cabin, there is enough storage room in the central console and beneath the central armrest as well as the door bins. As we said, using infotainment and all the commands for heating/airco/ventilation is intuitive, and we also used the voice command to good effect for navigation amongst other things.

Safe handling

The e-Niro will not exactly invite you to throw it around corners, but its handling is fine to say the least. Sudden steering wheel movements will be met with initial understeer, with well controlled oversteer by the ESP when you lift the throttle. This e-Niro will not lean unduly in fast corners, has good straight line stability and is comfortable too.

Conclusion

The present e-Niro with its attractive range is still very much a desirable EV, combining excellent performance with low E-consumption. Add to this the good value for money considering the space and equipment found, with last but not least the 7-year warranty. You will agree that this EV-range trendsetter which will accompany you for many years in to wonderful “Zen” world of EV motoring and mobility.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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