New Kia e-Niro 2020 review
All-electric Kia e-Niro mid-sized SUV benefits from same updates as hybrid Niro versions
The e-Niro is still one of our favourite electric cars, especially with the revamped infotainment of the latest model. Its efficiency is hugely impressive and it does the everyday family car things well. More rivals are coming, though, not least from within Kia’s own family. The Soul offers much of what the e-Niro does, but in a fresher, funkier package
In Kia years, the Niro is getting on a bit. It’s four years since the hybrid version was first launched, although the e-Niro only turned up in 2018. It’s still one of our favourite Kias, though, as well as being one of our favourite electric cars.
And it’s just been refreshed for 2020. The changes outside are minor, amounting to new LED lights front and rear, plus a mildly adjusted front bumper. Inside, you now get one of the best touchscreens in any car at any price – measuring a substantial 10.25 inches across and with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both fitted as standard. Unlike in many competitors, the entire screen is dedicated to the Apple or Android display for a wonderfully crisp and easy-to-use experience.
There’s also Kia’s Uvo connect system, which – at last – means you can connect to your e-Niro via a smartphone app to monitor charging and other settings. Most crucially of all, e-Niro availability has improved – we’re now told you’ll only have to wait a few months for delivery; previously it was up to a year to get your hands on one, such was the demand.
There are numerous things we still love about the e-Niro, not least of which is the range from its 64kWh battery. Kia claims 282 miles tested under the latest, supposedly more realistic WLTP regime and, for once, we’d say that’s pretty much spot on. In fact, we reckon that with plenty of city driving – when the brake regeneration provides more benefit – more than 300 miles is possible.
What’s even more remarkable is how well the e-Niro manages its battery power on the motorway, where the brakes are rarely used and EVs are usually at their least efficient. In some rivals, you might see the range disappear at an alarming rate – not so in the Kia; its efficiency is remarkable.
So range anxiety is unlikely to be an issue, and with 100kW fast charging providing an 80 per cent ‘fill’ in less than an hour (a full battery overnight is possible via a wallbox), keeping an e-Niro on the move won’t be a problem either.
The 201bhp electric motor with 395Nm of torque means the expected thrilling burst of initial acceleration is always on tap, with the e-Niro getting from 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds – that’s hot hatch territory. It looks like anything but a hot hatch, though, with its sensible five-door crossover shape. Don’t expect to get bags of feedback through the steering, because you don’t. And while the handling is secure and stable, you’ll feel the body roll through corners with the tyres a little too willing to squeal if you try and engage in any spirited driving.
The ride isn’t the most compliant, either. It’s not dreadful, but we’d prefer it to be a little less firm on UK roads – you’ll find yourself jiggling about a fair bit over rougher surfaces. The 17-inch alloys look good, but they probably don’t help here.
That’s one area where, perhaps, the Niro is showing its age a bit, but it’s also evident in the quality inside. Recent Kias have blown us away with their fit and finish, but in spite of the tech upgrade, the e-Niro feels a little cheap in places. However, it offers decent room for a family of five to go electric – space in the back is good, while the 451-litre boot is a decent size, too.
The e-Niro’s list price could count against it – £36,145 after the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant – but it does come fully loaded with kit in top-spec 4 trim.
|Kia e-Niro 4
|£36,145 (after Govt. grant)
|64kWh battery, single electric motor
|Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive