Review: Kia e-Niro (2019)


Desirable electric crossover SUV. Very spacious. Impressive 282-mile range. Seven-year warranty.

Expensive compared to the Hyundai Kona Electric and Nissan Leaf. Demand is likely to exceed supply.

Kia e-Niro (2019): At A Glance

  • Insurance Group 28

Just like the closely-related Hyundai Kona Electric, the Kia e-Niro is causing ripples in the electric car world. It's bigger than the Kona - more of a rival to the Nissan Qashqai and SEAT Ateca - but shares its 59kWh electric motor and can cover an impressive 282 miles between charges.

Unlike the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia's not offering a lower-powered version of the e-Niro in the UK - and, for the time being, it's only available in one 'First Edition' trim level. As a result, it's a fair bit more expensive than the Kona, not to mention other electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Volkswagen e-Golf.

You can see where your money is going, though. Its interior feels distinctly premium - more convincingly so than the Kona Electric. It's also well-equipped, with standard equipment including adaptive cruise control, a premium sound system and leather upholstery.

The e-Niro's boxy dimensions means there's plenty of space for four adults, with plenty of head, leg and shoulder room. The boot is usefully big and square in shape, with access easier than the Kona Electric.

To drive, the e-Niro's acceleration from low speed is impressive. As soon as you hit the accelerator pedal, it surges forward with no hesistancy. That's a perk of electric cars - you don't need to wait for the automatic gearbox to select the right gear or for the revs to build. It will just go, running from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds. You do have to be careful not to spin the front wheels, however, even in the dry. 

It's a heavy SUV and, as such, it's not the most nimblest of handlers - but it's eager enough to change direction and it doesn't lean too much under cornering.

The e-Niro is at its best in town, where good visibility (aided by standard parking sensors and reversing camera) makes it easy to squeeze in and out of spaces.

What's most impressive about the e-Niro is Kia has beaten the more mainstream manufacturers to producing a genuinely useable electric car. It's practical enough for day-to-day family use, doesn't feel like a compromise to drive (actually it's quite fun) and represents reasonable value for money. Its closest competitor is the Hyundai Kona Electric, but both are subtly different enough to cater for different markets.

What does a Kia e-Niro (2019) cost?

List Price from £24,895
Buy new from £22,362
Contract hire from £203.95 per month

Kia e-Niro (2019): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4375 mm
Width 1805 mm
Height 1560 mm
Wheelbase 2700 mm

Full specifications

While some electric cars feel very futuristic inside, the e-Niro's interior just feels like any other car - albeit one that's rather premium and well-equipped. There are lots of soft-touch materials and everything feels logically laid out. It's not quite a Volkswagen Group product, but it's not far off.

An eight-inch media display in the centre of the dash is standard, featuring navigation with European mapping, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It's a really good system - reacting quickly to commands with menus that are easy to navigate.

There are only five seats, but there's plenty of space inside the e-Niro. There's loads of room up front, with plenty of adjustment in the driver's seat to make finding a comfortable driving position easy. You don't sit as high as in some crossover SUVs, but access is painless and you do feel elevated compared to rival electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf.

Three adults can fit in the back without it feeling too snug, although the middle passenger might not be so happy after a long journey - not helped by a bump in the floor. There are two Isofix points for fitting child seats and good visibility should help prevent travel sickness.

The boot is surprisingly big - even bigger than the hybrid Niro, and loading bulky objects is relatively easy. The rear seats can, of course, be dropped should you need more room.

Specification (from launch):

First Edition models feature 17-inch alloy wheels, seven-inch digital instrument panel, eight-speaker JBL premium sound system, black leather seats, electric parking brake with autohold, eight=inch touchscreen display with navigation and European mapping, smart cruise control with stop and go, lane keeping assist with driver attention warning, forward collision-avoidance assist.

Child seats that fit a Kia e-Niro (2019)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Kia e-Niro (2019) like to drive?

With a generous 204PS and 395Nm of torque, the Kia e-Niro will surprise anyone who's not driven an electric car before. As soon as you press the accelerator, it surges forwards without delay. There's no hesitation as the automatic gearbox kicks down or any waiting for the revs to build, like you'll find in a petrol or diesel car.

Of course, this isn't always ideal. If you're clumsy with the accelerator the wheels will spin, even in the dry, but you soon learn to drive around that.

Performance peters out once you're above 40mph, but it's eager enough to join the motorway or overtake when required. Drivers can select from three different drive modes: eco, comfort and sport. The latter's a bit out of character for the car, making the steering heavier and the throttle even more responsive. It's best left in comfort.

With the batteries positioned under the floor, the e-Niro doesn't roll about as much on twisty roads as you might expect for a heavy crossover. It's not as enjoyable to drive out of town as a Volkswagen e-Golf, but it's fun to drive in urban areas and easy to position thanks to its superb visibility. Standard parking sensors and reversing camera are useful, too.

Wind and road noise is quite noticeable at higher speeds, but it's still a very relaxing car to drive day-to-day. There's lots of technology to make life more comfortable on the motorway, such as its adaptive cruise control (which slows down and speeds up with traffic) and lane keep assist, which will nudge you back into your lane if you stray without indicating.

There are paddles located behind the steering wheel, which allow you to increase or decrease the regenerative braking depending on your requirements. With this cranked up to the max, it uses the e-Niro's electric motors to slow the car down quite dramatically without you having to touch the brakes.

It's great around town, as you can almost resort to one-pedal driving (although it's not quite as severe as the system used in the Nissan Leaf). Turn it down a few notches and it will coast like a petrol or diesel car.

Charging is simple enough, using a flap located in the e-Niro's grille. You can plug it into any domestic socket using a three-pin plug (provided with the car), but it takes nearly 30 hours to charge it fully this way. You'd be much better to have a 7.2kW charger installed at home, which will take around nine hours to charge the battery fully.

When plugged into a 100kW fast charger, Kia says the e-Niro can be topped up from 20 to 80 per cent in just 42 minutes. Finding such powerful chargers in the UK are difficult - but a rapid charge at the motorway services should be able to charge the e-Niro up to 80 per cent in just over an hour.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2

What have we been asked about the Kia e-Niro (2019)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I want to sell my old car for a new electric vehicle. Is there a scrappage scheme for this?

I have a 12-year-old BMW that is getting expensive to keep on the road. I want to get an electric car. It needs to be one that can handle the bumpy lane I live on (full of potholes). Is there a scrappage scheme I can use for my old car? I occasionally drive 150 miles in one go but mostly do short distances.
The Kia Soul EV, Kia e-Niro or Hyundai Kona Electric all sound like good options. They all have generous ranges, represent good value for money and should be able to handle your bumpy lane fairly well. You could also consider the MG ZS EV - it's an electric car bargain, but its official 163-mile range means you'll probably have to stop to charge on longer journeys. Unfortunately, due to demand, electric cars aren't usually available on scrappage schemes. I'd recommend selling your BMW privately to get the most for it.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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