Being an added-convenience crossover hatchback, the e-Niro is a proper adult-sized four-seater with room for three kids across the second row at a push. It has a 451-litre boot that is unintruded by the presence of batteries and leaves an under-floor storage cubby for your charging cables. It is a more practical family car, by all of those measures, than a Nissan Leaf and offers fully 90mm more second-row leg room than the Hyundai Kona Electric that we criticised for its shortage of cabin space. In each of those respects, then, as a particularly practical, affordable, all-electric family car, you might say the e-Niro is something of a first.
It offers a comfortable, ergonomically sound driving position, too, with all of the controls and the digital instrumentation someone already well versed in the business of driving a modern EV could want. You’ll locate a rotary transmission controller on a raised centre console, but you’ll also find what look like gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel.
They’re actually there to allow you to incrementally control the regenerative braking of the car’s electric motor that happens on a trailing throttle, and that has such an abiding influence on how different a modern EV is to drive from any combustion-engined car. Pull the right-hand paddle and the car’s regen cycles upwards to max; pull the left-hand one and it cycles back to nothing, allowing the car to coast entirely unchecked when you lift off the accelerator.