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.