What is it?
This is one of the best electric cars you can buy, but updated a little bit for the 2020 model year. However, it's little changed in important ways from the excellent all-rounder that deservedly collared the 2019 What Car? Car of the Year Award, becoming the first battery electric car to do so.
To judge by Kia's press blurb, the changes are mostly to interior gadgetry and decor. There’s no change to the 201bhp electric motor, nor to the 64kWh lithium ion battery pack carried under the steel monocoque body, both of which help to make this car special.
Neither have the rather solid prices changed: the buyer stampede that followed this car’s What Car? accolade make it clear that consumers' judgement is that it’s worth the money. Especially since it carries a seven-year/100,000 mile warranty.
What's it like?
The equipment spec has changed to a typically Kia trim level, and this is one of the brand's more luxurious configurations. First cars had a First Edition spec that was out of kilter with the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Kia Niro also offered in the UK. Now the trio match one another. Our test car is unofficially a 4; UK customers will instead be offered a 4+, which gains a three-phase 11kW AC charger to speed up home-charging with a compatible wallbox.
The dominating interior facet for the 2020 e-Niro is a larger touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard (now 10.25in). Material quality has also been enhanced: there are tasteful piano black touches on the fascia, along with somewhat more brushed chrome brightwork to give an air of improved quality that works.
With the new infotainment comes some software improvements, principally a 'lane follow assist' function that works better than the crude and unloved 'lane keep assist' of the first car that seemed to wrestle you for wheel control, There’s also now a forward collision warning alert that recognises pedestrians and cyclists as well as other vehicles.
Down in the bowels of the car is a new heat pump that gathers battery heat and uses it to warm the cabin in winter. The only exterior change is a very welcome set of LED headlights.
The 2020 e-Niro driving experience is fascinating: we criticised the First Edition for a tolerable but lumpy ride and for intrusive road noise, possibly because much of its development engineering was done in Germany, where they just don’t have the coarse, noisy surfaces that abound in the UK. The low-rolling-resistance tyres can’t have helped, either.