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NIPPING AT THE HEELS of sister firm Hyundai’s impressive new Kona Electric, Kia’s take on the everyman electric SUV has many of the same virtues and a few more of its own, but also a bigger price ticket.
The e-Niro still gets the claimed driving range of 300-plus miles, but with a larger cabin and boot.
Kia’s offering only the larger of the two battery packs available on the Hyundai, and a single, well-appointed trim called 3: heated seats and steering wheel, wireless smartphone charging, touchscreen-based multimedia with eight speakers.
It drives well enough, with a centre of gravity that benefits from the batteries being low. Its ride could be softer, but overall comfort is good, helped by the absence of engine noise and the easily adjusted front seats.
Its 7.5sec 0-62mph time does scant justice to the manner in which the e-Niro accelerates. Given a sharp prod of the throttle it squats over its rear wheels and dashes forwards in a pleasingly dramatic style.
The paddle-adjustable brake-regen function’s very useful in a queue. Pull the left for more resistance, while the right increases coasting distance. You’re able to drive for the most part on just one pedal if you have the e-Niro set to maximum regen. Smoothly imperceptible driver-assistance comes as standard, taking much of the stress out of heavy traffic.
None of the tech is new, but it works together excellently. And while the list price is £6k more than an entry-level Kona Electric, it’s half the price of the fancier but less practical Jaguar i-Pace. GARETH EVANS
Roomy and comfy like all Niros, but this one’s electric