What is it?
You have to hand it to Kia. Operating from a separate building to the enthusiast radar not long ago, it recently put a competitive sports saloon into production and now threatens to break ground in more progressive fashion.
And how. While the rear-driven halo atop the Stinger GT-S still glows brightly here at Autocar, in a broader context there can be no doubt almost 300 miles of WLTP-certified electric range and an asking price close to £30,000 is more momentous.
That is what the new e-Niro crossover offers. Granted, it does not redefine the EV proposition in any singularly remarkable way. Sister brand Hyundai recently launched a version of the Kona with the same powertrain and for a similar price. The Tesla Model S is still a benchmark for range and will do 334 miles even in entry-level ‘75D’ form, while the excellent Nissan Leaf asks less of your finances than the newcomer.
But the Kona has a substantially smaller boot than the Kia, limiting its appeal as a practical family crossover. Similarly, you will pay £70,000 to join the Tesla troop and even in its second generation the Leaf requires cable action after just 168 miles. In light of this, the e-Niro is surely the Goldilocks option.
Built in right-hand drive and to generous ‘First Edition’ specification (including DAB radio, aerodynamic 17in alloys, plenty of leather trim within), the car tested here is the version British buyers will get, so ignore the South Korean numberplate. First deliveries are in April and the e-Niro will get the same seven-year warranty as the marque’s other models, and that includes for the battery back and electric motor.
And a quick note on that battery: Kia initially communicated the car's WLTP range as 301 miles. That figure, the brand now says, was the result of an incorrect testing methodolgy applied by an independent organisation. The urban portion of the test was disproportionately long, and because electric cars use less energy at lower speeds, the driving range duly improved. The official, correct range is 282 miles.
It's doubtful a marginally lower official range will deter many, if any, prospective buyers, and in any case the e-Niro is able to replenish its battery to 80% capacity in less than an hour using a 100kW source. Owners charging in more typical fashion – from a 7.2kW wallbox charger at home – can expect a full charge in roughly nine hours, says Kia. A 50kW charger – now found at many service stations – will get you to 80% in 75 minutes.