From £32,8457
Still competitive, but the e-Niro feels distinctly ordinary without the 64kWh battery’s generous range
19 March 2021

What is it?

It's fair to say Kia played a bit of a blinder in the early days of the race to build mainstream EVs. In fact few if any manufacturers pounced on the electrification shake-up quite as effectively.

In 2018, ahead of the competition, it introduced the e-Niro crossover, which with almost 300 miles of range, solid ergonomics, surprisingly serious performance and very canny pricing, quickly became the best all-rounder EV sensible money could buy. Sure, it wasn't the most polished product, but it was probably good enough to be considered the brand’s very first class leader.

Now that others are catching up, Kia has decided the best way forward is probably not to go upmarket (although if you do want to do that, the new 4+ trim level for the e-Niro is worth investigating), where illustrious names such as Mercedes and Polestar lurk. 

Instead, it has extended the e-Niro range downwards, chiefly by shrinking the car’s lithium ion battery pack from 64kWh to 39kWh, the main consequence of which is to drop the claimed range by 102 miles to 180 miles.

This new entry-level model is simply as known as the e-Niro '2', and its arrival is timely. The government recently decided to drop the upper price limit for cars eligible for its £2500 plug-in grant from £50,000 to £35,000. It means the 39kWh 2 is now the only model in the e-Niro range to qualify, and therefore costs £30,345 when all is said and done, whereas the e-Niro 3, without any form of subsidy for buyers, costs £37,100 and the 4+ £39,395. Ouch. 

However, even though the e-Niro 2 is now considerably cheaper relative to the rest of range than Kia originally planned, driving range is not the only attribute owners will sacrifice. Power also drops from 201bhp to a more sedate-sounding 132bhp. Interestingly, torque remains the same, at 291lb ft, which is a healthy figure almost equal to what you will find in the new Volkswagen Golf R.

Don’t get too excited, though: kerb weight remains mighty for something of this car's modest and boxy dimensions, at almost 1700kg, and the 9.8sec 0-62mph time looks ponderous at best.

What's it like?

Alongside the cheaper battery, what also helps the e-Niro 2 to get close to £30,000 is its lower equipment levels compared with the existing 64kWh 3 and 4+ models.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar review

Back to top

Notably, at 8.0in the infotainment touchscreen is smaller and there’s no wireless phone charging, although adaptive cruise control, two-zone climate control, automatic headlights, and a reversing camera are among the amenities still included. Even in its cheapest guise, the e-Niro therefore remains well equipped.

What this car doesn’t do, in any real sense, is delight. Without the generous282-mile range of the 64kWh car, you’re left with an ordinary crossover with questionable ride quality, plenty of hard plastics and an appliance-like driving position. In 2018, those were sacrifices plenty of people were willing to make, but in 2021, we have more choice.

To its credit, the e-Niro's steering remains reasonably engaging among cars of this ilk, the handling and road-holding is secure, the throttle pleasingly responsive, and the interior is spacious. The range of settings for the regenerative braking also remains usefully broad, and the freewheeling function is very effective. 

But in truth, with this 39kWh battery the e-Niro’s game-changer status is chamfered away, and even the capacity for 100kW rapid-charging doesn't change that. 

Should I buy one?

All that being said, if the smaller battery brings the e-Niro into your purchasing orbit, you should consider it. This car remains a solid stepping-off point into the world of EVs, though the new price-point does also brings uncomfortable competition.

Back to top

Both the Peugeot e-2008 and Volkswagen ID 3 do more to entice at a similar price. And then there's the upcoming Skoda Enyaq, which could well steal the show in the sub-£35,000 class.

Join the debate

Comments
6
Add a comment…
Overdrive 21 March 2021

Spirit crushingly dull looking appliance inside and out.

Marc 19 March 2021

I think we may see further revisions of models around this size for price and spec come the release of the Skoda Enyaq.  I think it may make a few manufacturers sit up and take note.  I managed to get a brief ride in one at a clients site earlier this week, Skoda are going to have their hands full, fulfilling orders.

scotty5 19 March 2021

Adds weight to my accusation that gove figures could well be very misleading. They say that 50% of EV's sold since 2019 were under £35k. So how do they work that out? If we take the Niro for example, are they saying the Niro counts as a car under £35k and conveniently forget that only one out of four of the available models comes in at under £35k, or are they actually counting every single car sold?

Of course the government arent the only people who can be accused of papering over the cracks, many manufacturers ( even today, I've just checked ), publish their list price with a little asterisk that informs anyone who bothers to chec the small print, that the price already inclludes the Gov. £3000 incentive.

I'd suggest there will be a fair few folk who've allready ordered a Niro a tad concerned. The list price hasn't changed any so if people wish to cancel their order, I suspect they may well loose their deposit.

 

 

Blancster 20 March 2021
scotty5 wrote:

Adds weight to my accusation that gove figures could well be very misleading. They say that 50% of EV's sold since 2019 were under £35k. So how do they work that out? If we take the Niro for example, are they saying the Niro counts as a car under £35k and conveniently forget that only one out of four of the available models comes in at under £35k, or are they actually counting every single car sold?

Of course the government arent the only people who can be accused of papering over the cracks, many manufacturers ( even today, I've just checked ), publish their list price with a little asterisk that informs anyone who bothers to chec the small print, that the price already inclludes the Gov. £3000 incentive.

I'd suggest there will be a fair few folk who've allready ordered a Niro a tad concerned. The list price hasn't changed any so if people wish to cancel their order, I suspect they may well loose their deposit.

 

Yes but the dealer will have registered the grant at £3000 on the day the customer signed the order form, so nobody waiting for their car will lose out. So it's only new potential customers that won't get the grant, unless amazingly Kia announce new price lists very shortly.

 

 

Find an Autocar car review