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Electric Kia serves up zero-emissions motoring in an impressively affordable, crossover wrapper
  • First Drive

    Kia e-Niro 64kWh 2019 review

    Electric Kia serves up zero-emissions motoring in an impressively affordable, crossover wrapper
  • First Drive

    Kia e-Niro 2019 review

    Niro comes of age as an electric car with an excellent drivetrain and impressive real-world range
4 December 2018

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.

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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. 

What's it like?

The e-Niro's design language is nothing new to these kinds of vehicles: there’s a blanked-off grille that lends the car a vacant expression and some turquoise details but that’s it. One senior designer described the current industry-wide vacillation over whether to present alternative-fuel models as avant-garde or ordinary as "chaos", and the result is safe but unmemorable.

Inside, there’s a new rotary gear selector on the false transmission tunnel and a sharp seven-inch digital instrument binnacle to match the eight-inch infotainment touchscreen. The ambience is staid but impressively mature, and there’s greater sense of perceived quality than might be unexpected given the twee exterior. We've no complaints about the space on offer, either. 

Kia always intended this platform for all-electric duties, but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening. Where the petrol-hybrid Niro gets a 33kg battery and the plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg.

Naturally, carting the mass of a Caterham Seven has some dynamic consequences – ones Kia has attempted to mitigate by upping the car’s spring rates. Body control is passable but the ride only truly settles on glass-smooth surfaces. An inability to iron out smaller corrugations can perhaps be forgiven – sophisticated dampers are the preserve of very expensive cars for a reason – but the e-Niro should still be quieter at a cruise. 

But this is still a neat product. One as inoffensive to drive as it is to look at, with light, suitably geared steering, plenty of adjustment in the driving position and a spirited turn of pace from a front-mounted 201bhp motor, particularly with the sharpened throttle-response of Sport mode. Town driving, where the official range is more than 380 miles, is supremely easy-going. Equally, entirely depleting the battery charge in a single sitting would be no chore at all. And for many owners, I suspect the ability to drive from London to Newcastle in one unbroken stint would absolve (at least in part) the busy ride.

One useful innovation is the paddles on the leather steering wheel. With no gears to change, they alter the severity of the regenerative braking and holding the left paddle down brings the e-Niro to a complete halt in short order. Preset gradations mean there is no modulation, alas, and the frustration of this never fades, but Kia deserves credit for this early attempt to better involve EV owners in the driving process.

A more involving chassis set-up should be the next step. That and the fact Kia has a way to go with calibration of the physical brakes themselves. Its engineers could learn a lot from driving Jaguar's I-Pace, which blends the effects of motor and caliper to superbly intuitive effect. In the case of the e-Niro, any confidence-inspriring initial bite is non-existent, which might not matter so much if the car wasn’t capable of accruing speed so quickly. 

Should I buy one?

Ultimately, the e-Niro proposition is more compelling than the execution, but it is some proposition and one that moves the game on. On the cost-range continuum, there's nothing to touch it. 

In fact, the aggressive price goes a long way to democratising long-range electric driving, so much so that the car’s practicality and stout performance almost feel like a bonus. The e-Niro's inconspicuous packaging of a cutting-edge powertrain will also appeal to many – the sense of familiarity very much welcome in relation to a novel ownership experience. 

Like we say, you really have to hand it to Kia.

Kia e-Niro 64kWh specification

Where South Korea Price £32,995 On sale April 2019 Engine Electric motor plus 64kWh lithium ion polymer battery Power 201bhp at 3800-8000rpm Torque 291lb ft at 4000rpm Gearbox Single-speed, direct drive Kerb weight 1812kg Top speed 104mph 0-62mph 7.8sec Range 282mpg (WLTP) CO2 0g/km Rivals Hyundai Kona Electric, Nissan Leaf

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Comments
18

4 December 2018

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

4 December 2018
xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

 

So often when comparing BEVs and ICE cars negatives of the BEVs are highlighted whilst the equivalent of the ICE is overlooked; weight of batteries in this case, ignoring weight of ICE engine saved, cradle to grave emissions for BEVs compared to basic running emissions for ICE, etc. Its infuriating and doesnt allow for an equal comparison.  

You have to wonder whether its ignorance or willful by the writer, not just in this instance but professional journalists should be held to a higher standard than bloggers, youtubers and forum posters.

4 December 2018
Bob Cat Brian wrote:

xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

 

So often when comparing BEVs and ICE cars negatives of the BEVs are highlighted whilst the equivalent of the ICE is overlooked; weight of batteries in this case, ignoring weight of ICE engine saved, cradle to grave emissions for BEVs compared to basic running emissions for ICE, etc. Its infuriating and doesnt allow for an equal comparison.  

You have to wonder whether its ignorance or willful by the writer, not just in this instance but professional journalists should be held to a higher standard than bloggers, youtubers and forum posters.

That it does weigh hundreds of kg. more -- affects it's handling and ride, as explained by reviewer. I don't think the review is unfair -- clearly despite the added weight, that car has ample compensationary qualities in this form. People just have to weigh themselves the pros and cons. Batteries are still immensely heavy. Simple truth.

4 December 2018
Einarbb wrote:

Bob Cat Brian wrote:

xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

 

So often when comparing BEVs and ICE cars negatives of the BEVs are highlighted whilst the equivalent of the ICE is overlooked; weight of batteries in this case, ignoring weight of ICE engine saved, cradle to grave emissions for BEVs compared to basic running emissions for ICE, etc. Its infuriating and doesnt allow for an equal comparison.  

You have to wonder whether its ignorance or willful by the writer, not just in this instance but professional journalists should be held to a higher standard than bloggers, youtubers and forum posters.

That it does weigh hundreds of kg. more -- affects it's handling and ride, as explained by reviewer. I don't think the review is unfair -- clearly despite the added weight, that car has ample compensationary qualities in this form. People just have to weigh themselves the pros and cons. Batteries are still immensely heavy. Simple truth.

I agree the additional weight, and its location within the vehicle, affects handling and ride, both negatively (additional weight to spring and damp) and positively (centre of gravity shifted lower and closer to centre of car).

My irritation stems from the lack of clear and accurate information when comparing BEV and ICE, especially when the same model is available as either so comparison is easy.

A quick google suggests the standard Niro weighs 1490kg, the PHEV 1594kg, the E 1737kg, so whilst its significantly heavier, its not even close to the four hundred and something additional kilograms the author implies.

The lack of accuracy and (deliberate?) misinformation when comparing BEV and ICE makes debate on the pros and cons an emotional one, when it could and should largely be a rational one. Currently BEVs don't work for every person in every scenario, but there are some they will suit perfectly.  

4 December 2018

And no one disputes that.

Batteries and electric motors are heavy but then so is what they replace.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

4 December 2018
xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

The Battery does no replace the ICE and gearbox, it replaces the fuel tank. The Electric Motors replace the ICE and transmission and some pretty hefty high current capacity wiring replaces the plumbing.


4 December 2018
Leslie Brook wrote:

xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

The Battery does no replace the ICE and gearbox, it replaces the fuel tank. The Electric Motors replace the ICE and transmission and some pretty hefty high current capacity wiring replaces the plumbing.

Yep but does an electric motor weigh as much as an ICE engine, at least one turbo, clutch, gearbox, exhaust, diff, plumping etc.   Basically we need to know the difference in weights not how much the battery weighs

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

4 December 2018
xxxx wrote:

Leslie Brook wrote:

xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

The Battery does no replace the ICE and gearbox, it replaces the fuel tank. The Electric Motors replace the ICE and transmission and some pretty hefty high current capacity wiring replaces the plumbing.

Yep but does an electric motor weigh as much as an ICE engine, at least one turbo, clutch, gearbox, exhaust, diff, plumping etc.   Basically we need to know the difference in weights not how much the battery weighs

While it certainly would be possible to engineer electric car with single engine, transmission and gearbox -- so far electric cars appear not be built in that manner, rather the choice being made to do away with gearbox even drive mechanism, and utilize instead - motor for each driven wheel - software handling the necessary tuning of power between wheels. That means motors appear either be two either at the rear ot at the front, or four. So ICE engine is either replaced with two electric motors or up to four.

4 December 2018
xxxx wrote:

Leslie Brook wrote:

xxxx wrote:

If it's anything like the Kona after initial pre-orders are filled expect a very, very long wait.

As to "but one statistic is nonetheless eye-opening..... battery of plug-in version one weighing 117kg, the low-mounted 64kWh pack in the e-Niro weighs 457kg" talk about lies damned lies and statistics.  You forgot to mention the e-Niros ICE engine weighs 0 (Zero) grams as does the gearbox, a full tank of petrol, exhaust, petrol tank, plumbing, clutch etc. 

Why not just list the e-Niros kerb weight and the plug-in versions weight? 

The Battery does no replace the ICE and gearbox, it replaces the fuel tank. The Electric Motors replace the ICE and transmission and some pretty hefty high current capacity wiring replaces the plumbing.

... we need to know the difference in weights not how much the battery weighs

It's easy to compare the masses of the petrol and electric versions of this car.  The electric version is much, much heavier.

4 December 2018

Fantastic car in everyway. So if you're lucky enough to get one please enjoy it!

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

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