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Road tests

New Kia e-Niro Mid Range 2021 review

A more affordable Mid Range model has been added to the Kia e-Niro range – we find out what it’s like to drive

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Verdict

This new Mid Range 39kWh model is the most affordable e-Niro yet. It offers the same easy, relaxing driving experience as the bigger 64kWh battery model, while you don’t have to compromise too much when it comes to performance. You lose some range while it’s not the most exciting EV, but if you need something practical, don’t cover big distances and are thinking of a switch to electric to save on running costs, the e-Niro Mid Range should be on your shortlist.

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The e-Niro was the start of Kia’s EV revolution. There had been electrified versions of the Niro compact SUV before this fully electric model, but this was where the car made most sense, as a full EV. But up until now the e-Niro was only available in 64kWh big battery form, which made it pricier, even if there was a choice of two trim levels.

However, with the addition of this ‘Mid Range’ e-Niro model, which packs a 39kWh battery and is only available in ‘2’ trim, there’s now a more affordable option – this is the only e-Niro to dip under the £30,000 mark, which means it could appeal to a new group of buyers on a slightly tighter budget.

Of course, with a smaller battery you lose some range; down from a claimed 282 miles to 180 miles here. However, that’s still a significant distance available between recharging, because we know the e-Niro is pretty true to its word when it comes to predicted range.

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The 39kWh Mid Range model retains the 100kW charging capability though, which is definitely a bonus. It means you can charge the battery from empty to 80 per cent full in 54 minutes. However, Kia claims the same charge using a 50kW supply takes just three minutes longer, while hooked up to a typical 7.2kW connection you get from a home wallbox a full charge takes six hours and 10 minutes – or roughly three and a half hours faster than the e-Niro Long Range.

It isn’t as powerful as that car though, as the Mid Range model’s electric motor serves up 134bhp compared with 201bhp in its pricier sibling.

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However, when it comes to EVs the more important stat in many respects is torque. An electric motor delivers this hit almost instantly, which is where the performance comes from in cars like this.

No matter which e-Niro you choose, there’s 395Nm on offer, which is a lot for a family SUV. As a result, 0-60mph takes 9.5 seconds, which is more than quick enough for this type of vehicle, but it’s that flexibility the electric motor’s torque provides – the punch that means you can genuinely make overtakes easily – that means even in this more affordable e-Niro, it’s still relaxing to drive.

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The regenerative braking is as good as it’s ever been, which helps deliver this easy-going feel. In its strongest mode (it’s switchable between four different settings using the paddles mounted behind the steering wheel) it allows one-pedal driving, so you can just modulate the throttle in town or on a country road to alter your speed.

Range anxiety can impact relaxation in EVs, but here that’s not an issue. Neither is performance or refinement from the powertrain, while the level of kit on offer helps, too.

This ‘2’ trim features part-leather upholstery, climate and adaptive cruise control, parking sensors and a reversing camera, plus an eight-inch touchscreen with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

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Higher-spec models feature the larger 10.25-inch unit, but the smaller eight-inch set-up is still great. It responds quickly to your inputs and the graphics are sharp; the tech works with the usual level of slick simplicity you’d expect from a Kia, it’s just it’s slightly downscaled for this ‘2’ model.

There’s a set of 17-inch alloys as standard with plenty of rubber in the tyres’ sidewalls, helping the ride quality. The Kia is comfortable – mostly – serving up a smooth enough ride until you whack a big bump or pothole, where the chassis just loses its composure. It handles safely, delivering exactly what you want from a family SUV, and there’s plenty of active and passive safety tech to back that up.

Collision warning and autonomous braking, lane-keep and lane follow assist, plus seven airbags all feature for a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

With 451 litres of boot space practicality is unchanged, plus there’s enough room in the back for passengers to get comfortable. The drawback is that while the e-Niro is practical, the interior (and exterior) design could do with a refresh. It’s feeling a little old now, despite a subtle facelift last year, whereas other EVs offer a fresher proposition, such as the Peugeot e-2008.

Build quality is solid though, even if some of the materials could be better.

Model:Kia e-Niro Mid Range ‘2’
Price: £29,845
Battery:39kWh lithium-ion
Range:180 miles
Power/torque:134bhp/395Nm
TransmissionSingle-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
0-60mphL9.5 seconds
Top speed:96mph
On sale:Now
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Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

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