In-depth reviews

Kia e-Niro electric motor, drive & performance

Most importantly, the e-Niro is comfortable and smooth to drive, but it also has up to 201bhp for a surprising turn of speed

Kia e-Niro
Battery size0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
39kWh9.5s96mphFront134bhp
64kWh7.5s104mphFront201bhp

To say the Kia e-Niro is fun to drive is probably pushing it a bit, but it’s certainly an easy and relaxing steer, with well controlled ride comfort, the trademark seamless acceleration of electric power and enough potency to give it surprising acceleration from low speeds if you want it.

Kia e-Niro electric motor, 0-62mph and acceleration

The most powerful e-Niro (the 64kWh battery model) makes 201bhp and 395Nm of torque. The latter arrives the moment you hit the accelerator, which to most of us means it feels fast – surprisingly fast. There are three driving modes to choose from: Eco, Comfort and Sport. Accelerating from 0-62mph takes 7.5 seconds and top speed is 104mph.

Choose red-backlit Sport mode and the throttle sharpens up, the steering weights up and you can actually fling the e-Niro around with unexpected gusto for an eco-minded family car. Even in the more ordinary modes, it’ll startle hot hatches up to 40mph, and you’ll have no qualms about merging with faster traffic or tackling a motorway journey.

Likely of more relevance are the steering-wheel paddles that allow you to toggle up or down the brake-regeneration levels very easily, which effectively means it’s easier to top-up the battery charge a bit when you’re on the move. Overall, the e-Niro is effortless and relaxing when you want it to be, and even delivers a sprightly turn of speed and neutral cornering ability if you fancy a bit more verve to your drive home.

The more recently added 39kWh e-Niro produces 134bhp. The claimed 9.5-second 0-62mph time shows it's slower off the line than its sibling, but this is less important than rolling acceleration. As this model has the same amount of torque, it feels just as punchy initially, then trails off more quickly as you get up to speed.

That torque means it's absolutely fine for overtaking and it's more than quick enough for a family SUV. The regenerative braking is excellent and can be adjusted quickly using paddles behind the steering wheel. It makes the e-Niro feel very relaxed.

Handling

The front-wheel-drive e-Niro is secure and composed, and not without driver satisfaction. The steering doesn’t feel natural, but it’s precise and you can enjoy winding the car through town or down a decent road. Mind you, while the sharper throttle response of Sport mode is fun, the steering is too heavy and actually feels less enjoyable than in the lighter Comfort mode.

Of course, the e-Niro is quiet and calm. There’s a bit more wind and tyre noise than you get in the more aerodynamic Nissan Leaf and a Volkswagen e-Golf is more fun thanks to its more natural-feeling steering, but the Kia is both relaxing and satisfying behind the wheel.

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