When you’ve got nearly half a tonne of battery mass to deal with, it’s clearly easier to hide it in a bigger car with a longer wheelbase that it would be in a smaller, shorter one. That’s what the handling of the e-Niro teaches you, specifically by creating a more settled, stable and secure impression than the related Hyundai Kona Electric tested last year. The bigger point worth noting here is simply the lack of dynamic compromise that the e-Niro imposes.
From the way this car handles, how agile, manoeuvrable and obedient it feels, the way it grips the road and the quiet assurance with which it deals with tighter bends and roundabouts, the e-Niro just seems like a well-sorted, well-behaved biggish family hatchback. It doesn’t feel short of grip or traction compared with the average crossover hatchback, as some EVs can. It doesn’t run out of body control when driven quickly or given a testing combination of lumps and bumps to deal with. It is a very dynamically competent act, and an almost entirely blameless and vice-free drive.
Which doesn’t quite mean that there aren’t one or two things it couldn’t do better, of course. The e-Niro’s steering, in particular, though well-paced, isn’t the most satisfying to use, having a little bit too much cloying weight and communicating little by way of tyre loading or contact patch feel. But, while remote-feeling, it’s a long way from obstructive or objectionable and doesn’t prevent you from enjoying what is a creditable dynamic showing overall.
The e-Niro copes fairly well with the dynamic abuse test that is the Millbrook Hill Route – which is to say, as well as it needs to in order to feel secure and contained when driven fairly quickly on the road.
Placing the e-Niro’s drive battery down low doesn’t prevent it entirely from affecting the car’s limit handling, but it certainly helps take the sting out of the equation. The EV grips the road quite well and doesn’t roll excessively or run out of adhesion suddenly, so it’s entirely drivable even as the electronic stability control begins to chime in, which it does with subtlety but effectiveness.
Brake pedal feel remains a bit of a barrier to the act of driving both quickly and smoothly, but it gets much better in the car’s sport driving mode than it is in Eco or Eco+, where the regenerative mushiness it would otherwise suffer with is mostly tuned out.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION