What are you driving?
One of only two versions of the modest Kia Niro crossover currently on Irish pricelists (the other is the plug-in hybrid). This is the Kia e-Niro (Long), an all-electric version of the car that uses the same electric system as the Kia e-Soul and its first cousin, the Hyundai Kona Electric. The 'Long' bit of the name is left over from when there was another entry-level variant of the e-Kona available using a lower capacity battery pack. Now, the only option is this one, with the 64kWh lithium-ion battery, meaning an official maximum range of 455 kilometres.
Within the blanked-off front 'grille' you'll find ports for Type 2 AC charging and CCS rapid charging. With such a high-capacity battery on board, it should be no surprise that it would take about 29 hours to charge it up from flat to full if you had to use a regular three-pin plug. Thankfully that drops to 10 hours on most home chargers, which makes it ideal for overnight charge-ups (especially as most won't coast into their driveway with zero charge in the battery). For quick battery top-ups, the e-Niro can be plugged into rapid chargers and can avail of up to 80kW if available. On the 50kW rapid chargers found in Ireland, the e-Niro's battery should gain about 160 kilometres of range for every half hour it's plugged in.
That energy is supplied to a 150kW (204hp) electric motor, which also produces a considerable 395Nm of torque from the second you touch the throttle.
In terms of pricing, the Kia Niro range starts at €32,995 for the plug-in hybrid model, while the e-Niro (Long) is €39,495 - in both cases including a VRT rebate and SEAI grant.
Name its best bits
The e-Niro is sold in a single specification, and it's really well-equipped, somewhat justifying the relatively high price of admission. Included: roof rails, privacy glass, auto lights, leather upholstery, split-folding rear seat backs, heated and ventilated front seats, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment, satnav, Bluetooth, rear-view camera, smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android devices, a wireless phone charger, keyless entry and start, active cruise control, parking sensors front and rear, automatic wipers, climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels and lots of active and passive safety features.
Other than that, the e-Niro is the most spacious (in terms of passenger and boot space) of the three electric crossovers offered in total by Kia and Hyundai. Its electric system is one of the most efficient on the market as well, meaning it will do around 400km on a charge without an issue if you're in and around town, and will still get close to 300km on the motorway. And yet, it's no slouch when you put your foot down. On top of all that, it's wonderfully smooth on the road and feels made of solid stuff.
Anything that bugs you?
There's nothing memorable about the driving experience of the e-Niro, but I guess that's coming from someone that loves driving. Saying that, the Sport driving mode makes it feel more rapid than most will ever need and actually, it shows up the limitations of the low rolling resistance tyres when you misjudge how much throttle to apply when exiting a damp junction and there's a little chirrup from one of the tyres before the traction control cuts in.
And why have you given it this rating?
While I prefer the looks of the Kia e-Soul, and it's the electric Korean EV I'd buy with my own money, it's difficult to find fault with the Kia e-Niro. It's not massively interesting to drive or look at, but it's practical, refined, well-equipped and has one of the best electric powertrains on the market. All that makes its purchase price look quite good when compared with other electric cars on sale today.
What do the rest of the team think?
Like its stablemate, the Kia e-Soul, the e-Niro is one of the most impressive electric cars around at the moment, thanks in no small part to an excellent one-charge range. With 201hp it's hardly slow, either. It is a little plain, inside and out, but the high quality levels help make up for that.
Neil Briscoe - Editor-at-large
The e-Niro is one of the best value-for-money EVs on the market if you're looking for interior space. A generously sized boot and decent rear space makes it ideal for small families. Above that it delivers a very good real-world driving range.
Dave Humphreys - Road Test Editor