A WORLD-BEATER in many ways, Kia’s remarkable e-Niro is also a victim of its success.

This long-range electric car is at the forefront of the drive to turn our heads away from the internal combustion engine and towards the motoring fuel of the future.

With a price of £32,995 it is within the reach of many drivers considering the switch, but there’s a snag.

The Korean manufacturer had to limit supply to the UK to only 800 this year… and they have all been snapped up. This means that for the time being at least all you can do if you want one if make an expression of interest with your Kia dealer. In simple terms, Kia is struggling to manufacture enough batteries to keep up with demand and is looking to a Chinese manufacturer to assist the process.

With other electric cars offering an equivalent range costing twice as much, the success of the e-Niro should come as no surprise.

But Kia has not only been clever in producing an electric car that will average 282 miles on a single charge, it has also ensured that when you step inside the e-Niro First Edition it will feel special.

To that end, you find plump leather seats (heated in the front and electrically adjustable for the driver), keyless start and entry, adaptive cruise control, eight-inch touchscreen navigation, eight-speaker sound system, rear parking sensors, phone connectivity, a couple of USB ports, a whole suite of safety systems, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers… and the list goes on.

In short, you will not be disappointed by the features both inside and out of the e-Niro. In fact, you will be mightily impressed.

But for most buyers the decision to purchase will largely be based on the economy and convenience of switching to an electric car.

Let’s take a driver with an average daily commute totalling 20 miles. That will be me then. Over a period of a week, that’s 100 miles. If I added on trips to the shops and a longer weekend journey I might expect to cover 250 miles.

The e-Niro will comfortably manage that with miles to spare on a single charge costing under a fiver. That’s a serious saving compared with petrol or diesel costs.

On the downside, a charge boost from 0% to 100% from a domestic plug will take 29 hours, although a 7kw charger will do the job in nine hours 50 minutes and a 100kW charge takes 54 minutes to reach 80% capacity.

And it should be remembered that you are unlikely to run down the charge to near zero before topping it up again.

The e-Niro shoots from 0 to 60mph in 7.5 seconds, with the virtually instantaneous acceleration typical of an electric car, and provides a composed ride that seems to iron out the bumps and cracks so prevalent on minor roads.

Its crossover-inspired design makes it big enough to be the family car, easy to manoeuvre in a city environment and very comfortable.

While the Renault Zoe can be credited with offering a reasonable range for under £20,000 and the superb Jaguar I-Pace provides both luxury motoring and a range to match that of the e-Niro, there’s no doubt that it is the e-Niro that will have the widest appeal.

As Kia's second globally-sold electric vehicle after the Soul EV, it incorporates the practicality and appeal of a crossover in an aerodynamic body. In profile, the slim character line and tapered rear windows help to emphasise and elongate the car's sleek profile, while allowing greater room for the muscular wheel arches. The e-Niro rides on new 17-inch aluminium alloy wheels with a diamond-cut two-tone finish, housing Kia's regenerative braking system.

That system is key to getting more miles for your bucks because by using it through paddles behind the steering wheel you can not only brake without even pressing on the brake pedal but also control the degree of regenerative braking.

Inside, the cabin combines a modern design with generous space and technologies that complement its zero-emissions powertrain.

The powertrain does not require a traditional gear lever and gear linkage. The physical transmission has therefore been replaced with a dial drive selector. The drive selector dial sits on its own panel which extends out from the base of the central armrest. In addition to the rotator dial, this new panel also houses buttons for the electronic parking brake, heated seats, heated steering wheel, drive mode selector, parking sensors, and the auto hold braking' function. The new panel requires no bulky transmission tunnel, enabling Kia's designers to create a larger storage area at the base of the centre console.

The dashboard features bright blue trim around the air vents, echoing the trim highlights found on the outside of the car. A new mood lighting system illuminates the centre console and shift dial with subtle lighting in one of six colours – white, grey, bronze, red, green, and blue. New high-gloss black and blue trim also lines the doors. The shelf at the base of the instrument panel features a wireless charger for Qi-equipped smartphones.

The eight-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard not only enables owners to locate nearby charging points and monitor the level of remaining charge and range but also lets owners gauge their trip and lifetime CO2 reduction compared with a petrol-fuelled car of a similar size.

Another clever feature is the ability to set an approximate departure time, enabling the car to heat itself to a set temperature before the driver departs.

The seven-inch colour-LCD driver instrument cluster shows driving and battery charge information.

Away from the technology, the 2,700mm wheelbase ensures all aboard get generous legroom, while cargo space is equally good at 451 litres. The boot also features a storage area beneath its floor for the charging cable.

The e-Niro is equipped with a high-capacity 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. It should comfortably achieve at least 250 miles on a full charge and will probably average the stated 282 miles. But because of the regenerative braking the range might well reach as high as 382 miles if you are driving in an environment where braking is quite frequent.

Basically, regenerative braking technology allows the e-Niro to harvest kinetic energy and recharge the battery pack while coasting or braking, and the system even alerts drivers as to the best time to lift off the accelerator and coast towards a junction, allowing the battery to regenerate under engine deceleration.

While the electric motor requires no transmission, the car still features a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel. These paddles let drivers choose between three levels of energy recuperation. The higher the level of recuperation chosen by the driver, the more energy the regenerative brakes try to harvest.

The car is also equipped with a drive mode select system, enabling owners to tailor their driving experience between normal, eco and sport modes.

With independent rear suspension and several noise-reduction features, the driving experience is both quiet and quite refined.

Convenience features include rear parking sensors and a reversing camera system, rear seats that fold down in a 60/40 split, rain sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlight control, automatic air conditioning, heated and folding door mirrors, DAB radio, satellite navigation system, Bluetooth with music streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice control, an eight-speaker, 320-watt premium sound system, wireless mobile phone charger and USB ports.

Kia has indeed ensured that what might be your first experience of a fully electric car will not only prove to be economically excellent but also enjoyable to drive or be carried in.


Kia e-Niro First Edition

Price: £32,995

Engine: 64kWh electric motor combined with 150kw battery producing 201PS

Transmission: Automatic

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 7.5 seconds; top speed 104mph

Range: 282 miles combined

CO2 emissions: 0g/km


Performance: *****

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****