Kia e-Niro (2018-2022) review
The first-generation Kia e-Niro was one of our favourite electric family cars. It's a great SUV with up to 282 miles of range, plus stacks of equipment
- Long real-world range
- Comfortable and practical
- Bells-and-whistles equipment list
- Still quite expensive
- Styling not to all tastes
- Finance deals could be better
|Battery size||Range||Wallbox charge time||Rapid charge time|
|39kWh||180 miles||6hrs 30mins (7.2kW, 0-100%)||43mins (50kW, 10-80%)|
|64kWh||282 miles||10hrs 30mins (7.2kW, 0-100%)||44mins (77kW, 10-80%)|
The Kia e-Niro is a compact family SUV that was offered in two versions when new: the big-battery 64kWh model has a 282-mile range, while the cheaper 39kWh model has a range of 180 miles. The entry-level 2 specification gave you a choice of either battery, while the better equipped 3 and 4+ trims were 64kWh-only.
The e-Niro shares these powertrains with the Hyundai Kona Electric, which shook up the electric-car market by offering virtually double the driving range of most other models in the £35,000 price range. The Kia Soul EV also uses the same technology. The e-Niro differs from its Hyundai sibling in that it’s a fraction larger and more spacious in the rear seats and boot.
In our experience the claimed range figures are spot-on; we lived with the pre-facelift Kia e-Niro (64kWh) and routinely saw 280 miles or more in the summer months, while the worst-case conditions saw around 180 miles on a motorway journey in very cold and windy winter conditions. We've yet to test the smaller 39kWh battery to the same extent, but initial impressions suggest it's just as efficient.
Charging is done using a CCS or Type 2 cable that fits into the port on the front of the car, hidden behind that conspicuously vent-free, solid nose that’s becoming a telltale sign of many electric cars. Standard cables include a Type 2 public charging cable and a three-pin plug for charging from a wall socket at home. Using a typical 100kW public charger will see both models topped up to 80% capacity in around 45 minutes, as the larger-battery version also has a slightly faster maximum charging speed than the 39kWh car.
One of the great things about the e-Niro, putting the electric aspect aside for a moment, is that it’s just a great compact family SUV. A conventional petrol or diesel alternative like the bigger Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Karoq are more spacious and versatile, but the e-Niro has a lot going for it even in that company.
All but the 2-spec cars come with a great 10.25-inch touchscreen. It's bigger, clearer and crisper than the eight-inch unit on the entry-level models and is as well equipped as the rest of the car – it has DAB, Bluetooth, sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Continuing the bells-and-whistles approach, the e-Niro also gets a full array of safety kit, including automatic lights and wipers, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, which combines to give it a very effective semi-autonomous driving mode. Only blind-spot monitoring is missing.
What’s it like to drive? Exactly how you’d want. Comfortable, smooth and easy-going, although it’s worth mentioning that it also has 201bhp and plenty of torque, so it's pretty quick off the mark. The 39kWh model has 134bhp, although it has the same torque figure so it's similarly punchy from low speed.
The real joy of this car is in sitting back and enjoying the ultra-quiet motoring and relaxing torque, but if you want to prove a point at the traffic lights, it’s entertainingly capable of doing so. Likely to be more useful are the standard steering-wheel-mounted paddles that make it easy to toggle up or down the brake regeneration levels.
As an overall prospect, the e-Niro is a great electric family car. It’s good to drive, comfortable to sit in, easy to live with as a family and – crucially – offers the sort of range that should finally put the dreaded range anxiety to bed. Of course, you get Kia’s famous seven-year/100,000-mile warranty as well. For more on the Kia e-Niro, check out our report on running one for several months, or read on for the rest of our in-depth review...
In This Review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe first-generation Kia e-Niro was one of our favourite electric family cars. It's a great SUV with up to 282 miles of range, plus stacks of equipment
- 2Range, battery & chargingIf our experience of living with the Hyundai Kona is anything to go by, the longer-range version of the Kia e-Niro should do 260 miles in normal use
- 3Running costs & insuranceThe Kia e-Niro isn’t the cheapest compact SUV by a long way, but within the electric-car class it’s great value, despite a short service interval
- 4Performance, motor & driveMost importantly, the e-Niro is comfortable and smooth to drive, but it also has up to 201bhp for a surprising turn of speed
- 5Interior, dashboard & comfortThe Kia e-Niro is a comfortable, easy-going car with a solidly finished and user-friendly interior
- 6Boot space, seating & practicalityThere are roomier and more versatile diesel or petrol options, but the Kia e-Niro is a practical car and well suited to family motoring
- 7Reliability & safety ratingGreat standard safety kit and a seven-year warranty are standard on the Kia e-Niro, but servicing intervals are surprisingly short
- 8Living with itThe e-Niro is a milestone electric car for its range and value, but how does it fare as a high-mileage family car? We ran one to find out...