Kia takes efficiency

to the max

Kia e-Niro, 2018, front, static
Kia e-Niro, 2018, side, static
Kia e-Niro, rear seats
Kia e-Niro, boot
Kia e-Niro, front action
Kia e-Niro, side action 2
Kia e-Niro, rear static
Kia e-Niro, dashboard

LET'S be honest, it may not be too big a step for a car buyer switching from diesel to petrol or vice versa.

Even taking the hybrid or plug-in route shouldn't involve too much agonising.

But going the whole hog with a full-on, 100 per cent electric vehicle still requires a significant leap of faith for most folk.

And with range anxiety an issue for many, coupled with accessible charging both at home and in public places, it's understandable why a degree of reluctance still exists.

That's before taking into account that electric vehicles don't exactly come at a giveaway price.

Things are changing though, and at quite a rate. Car manufacturers know that EVs are the future and all are pushing ahead with plans to make their offerings capable of embracing the electric revolution.

Korean brand Kia is no exception and has two fully electric models in its passenger car portfolio - the Soul EV, which has been around since 2014, and the new e-Niro.

The latter, a sort of SUV meets crossover hatchback model, represents a terrific example of efficiency taken to the max while meeting the demands of family practicality.

It has exterior style, interior size plus a 451-litre boot that isn't limited by batteries and leaves a concealed area below for storing the charging paraphernalia.

The name isn't exactly a new one - there are already Niro Hybrid and Niro Plug-in Hybrid variants out there - but the e-Niro differs in more than just its fully EV capability.

Based on a concept originally revealed in Las Vegas it has an altogether more futuristic design, spearheaded by a more aerodynamic tiger nose grille, which houses the charging port, redesigned air intakes and arrowhead-shaped LED daytime running lights.

And those design changes extend even more noticeably to the cabin. As the all-electric powertrain doesn't require a traditional gear lever or linkage there's a compact drive selector dial instead while the lack of a bulky transmission tunnel opens up more interior space.

A trio of trim grades named 2, 3 and 4 are up for grabs and all ride on the same five-spoke 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels with a diamond-cut two-tone finish.

Drivers of the two higher spec versions also get a new 10.25-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash which among other functions allows you to locate nearby charging points and monitor the level of remaining charge and range.

It also lets owners gauge their trip and lifetime CO2reduction from driving the e-Niro, compared to a similar sized petrol car.

Our model was the more powerful of the two currently available, featuring a 201bhp (64kWh) electric powertrain as opposed to the 134bhp (39kWh) variant only sold in entry grade trim.

It boasts a driving range of up to 282 miles on the open road with the promise of an extra 100 in a city environment, so drivers shouldn't have to make too many stops for ‘refuelling'.

With that in mind the e-Niro can be recharged to 80 per cent in 54 minutes using a 100kW charger; even using a 50kW point will give you the same level in 75 minutes.

As for performance the Kia can reach 62mph in a sprightly 7.5 seconds and continue smoothly on to a 104mph top speed, all completed in a mannered and well balanced demeanor.

The sticking point for some though will be the price - a princely £34,995 even after the £3,000 Government grant.

It sounds on the expensive side but is actually pretty reasonable when compared to other electric models, the comprehensive degree of kit and Kia's 7-year/100,000 mile fully transferable warranty.

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