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9 AUGUST 2021

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Article from BTNews 9 AUGUST 2021

AUGUST ROAD TEST: Kia e-Niro

A car for the future.

BTN has not road tested an electric car to date.

The Editor-in-Chief has been a sceptic, and rather wary of what is undoubtedly the power of the future.  He has spent a couple of hours with the Mazda MX-30 and was very impressed (see BTN April Road Test) but as a flat (apartment to American readers) dweller his main concern was the problem of charging.  

His fears were forgotten. The Kia e-Niro is a well-developed comfortable small SUV, very practical for the British roads.  It comes with the usual Kia seven-year/100,000 warranty, transferable. Priced at £39,395 the test car is not cheap but propels you into another world of motoring.  The whole package is beautifully engineered and a credit to its country of origin (Korea).  

As things stand there are no commercial charging points within one mile, or walking distance of his Edgware, north London abode, but a local Waitrose had a couple of fast chargers in its car park.  Plugging into a simple three-pin point at a close by friendly neighbour provided a simple solution to the problem.  Overnight the car was ready the following morning.

The electric input point is at the front, a sprung door allowing access to the plug options.  

The car comes with two alternative charging cables – Type 1, a 3-pin AC unit single-phase charging up to 2.3kW and Type 2, also AC single-phase but charging up to 7.2 kW.

Based on the average cost of standard electricity in the UK in 2020 a very rough estimate for a 0-100% charge of an e-Niro 64kWh x 17.2 pence per kWh = £11.

With the case of my neighbour the estimated cost when charging from 61% to 100% on a three-pin charger would be between £4 and £5.  He refused payment.  Householders are now offering the facility on a proper payment basis.  Look out for signs.

The big question is range.  According to Kia this can be up to 380 miles if driven around town, or 100 miles less on a run.  In any event what you have got left in the tank (if that is the right word) is very clearly seen on the front screen.  As electric cars become more common so will charging points, particularly for pubs and restaurants with car parks.  This 64kWh version (it’s all a new language) offers 0-60 in a sports saloon 7.5sec, but is sensibly limited to 100mph top speed.  There is no point in using up a lot of power illegally.

The official description calls it a one-gear car and that is what it is.  Just put your foot down if you want to go quicker, rather like a fairground dodgem.  It is true that some of the more exotic electric cars have astonishing performance but the e-Niro is no slouch and will hold its own in a traffic light GP.

The car is front-wheel drive and the batteries are located under the floor for a low centre of gravity, improving the handling, which is best described as ‘neat’ in the wet.  The e-Niro sticks to the road.  As far as the ride is concerned it is nicely soft without being too half-hearted and perhaps causing car sickness with some passengers.

As with all Kia cars it comes as a complete package, very comprehensively kitted out with some interesting features.  Only the centre seat in the back is not heated and the driver’s seat slides back automatically as you open the door.  It is eight-way adjustable.  Also heated is the steering wheel.  To go into reverse you twist a rotary selector on the central console which also controls other functions.

Advanced active safety technologies include Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection (FCA), Smart Cruise Control (SCC) with stop and go, Driver Attention Warning (DAW) and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS).

A 10.25 inch touchscreen display dominates the centre console, which includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility, as well as Bluetooth with music streaming. The DAB radio includes MP3 compatibility, steering wheel controls and six-speakers.  You get a wireless self-charging mobile phone position and two USB plugs in the front, but strangely none in the back.  A reversing camera is integrated together with a warning system which also works at the front.  

The car sits on 17 inch alloy wheels and gives a good ride.  What is interesting is filling it up with five people. Yes, it might be a little slower but there is no under the bonnet rumble as you pull away.  And they all ask about the engine and how far will it go before recharging?  That was never the case with petrol and diesel cars.

Performance 8
Handling 7
Transmission 9
Noise 7
Economy 10
Ride and Comfort 8
Accommodation 7
Styling 7
Brakes 8
Finish 8
TOTAL 79%

www.kia.com

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