“Exactly what an EV should be” is how we summed up the Kia e-Niro First Edition when we tested it back in the winter. With a realistic range of comfortably 250 miles, a high level of kit, solid build quality and plenty of space for a family, even in the solitary e-Niro '4' spec that we were offered at the time coming in at £34k it represented good value for money.
Kia has now answered one of the few criticisms we had of the e-Niro by expanding the range to include three different specifications to choose from. At the bottom end of the spectrum is the Kia e-Niro 2 which brings a 39kWh battery and lower power motor to the UK market for the first time, allowing the on-the-road price to dip to £29,595. Until now, this lower spec car has only been available overseas. Further up the range is the '3', which gets the larger 64kWh battery and higher powered motor, followed by the top-spec '4+' which gets a higher level of equipment.
Whilst knocking 25kWh off the battery's capacity seems like a drastic cut, the new Kia e-Niro 2 still makes for a compelling package. Its 39kWh enables it to travel up to 180 miles on a charge which is further than the forthcoming Mazda MX-30, the MG ZS EV which has a bigger battery, and not too far off the range of the up-coming 50kWh Vauxhall Mokka-e. In an urban environment where battery drain is far less, the e-Niro 2 is capable of up to 251 miles according to the WLTP cycle.
The motor in the e-Niro 2 is less powerful than the 201bhp unit that has been available up until now, but at 134bhp and the exact same 291 lb-ft torque figure it still propels the car to 60mph in 9.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 96mph. To put that into context, the 64kWh '3' and '4+' spec cars with the 201bhp motor hit 60mph in 7.5 seconds and will reach 104mph.
Of course on the road there will be a noticeable difference, especially accelerating at higher speeds, but the performance on offer from the base spec car is what we'd consider 'ample' for most people.
Charging is dealt with at up to 100kW DC on both battery sizes, taking 54 minutes to get to 80 per cent on either due to the way each battery is managed through the charging cycle. At 50kW DC the smaller battery gets to 80 per cent in 57 minutes, whilst the larger size takes 75 minutes. Lower powered AC charging is supported at up to 11kW on the '4+' model thanks to a new on-board charger.
First things first; the '+' that has been added to the '4' spec car is there to denote the fact that it now incorporates an AC 11kW three-phase charger as standard which is a first for the Kia e-Niro.
In its lowliest '2' spec the Kia e-Niro gets a pretty decent level of kit as standard. Inside there's a 7 inch TFT display cluster, 8 inch touchscreen on the centre console with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth, DAB radio and MP3 compatibility. USB ports, including a fast charger, enable wired phone connectivity are also included, plus a reversing camera. Automatic air conditioning keeps things cool, plus to ensure driving is an easy going affair there's an electronic parking brake with auto hold, smart cruise control with stop and go, auto headlights and windscreen wipers and LED lights front and rear.
Standard safety equipment across all models is extensive and includes forward collision avoidance, lane keep assist and driver attention warnings which alert drivers who might be getting tired. ABS, stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, emergency stop signalling and smart cruise help avoid crashes, whilst should the worst happen, seven airbags keep occupants safe.
And that's just the headline stuff, so it's safe to say that the Kia e-Niro 2 is well appointed!
Move up to the e-Niro 3 and leather upholstery is included plus heated front seats and steering wheel. Phone charging can be done wirelessly and the infotainment system is of a far higher spec. Most obviously you get a 10.25 inch touchscreen which has an advanced sat-nav system. Full European mapping with traffic messaging channel is just the starter as with Kia Connected Services the e-Niro 3 gets TomTom Live which incorporates traffic, speed cameras, local search and weather.
UVO CONNECT puts additional information at drivers' fingertips including charging information, locations of chargers and their availability. UVO CONNECT can be managed via a smartphone app which also allows access to a range of vehicle functions remotely.
At the top end of the range is the aforementioned Kia e-Niro 4+ which gets a one-touch tilt and slide sunroof, LED headlights with bi-function projection, heated outer rear seats and ventilated front seats. Additionally, ambient lighting and an eight-speaker, 320 watt JBL sound system makes the cabin that little more pleasant than it already was, and to top it off front parking sensors and intelligent speed limit warning is included.
You can walk into a Kia showroom or go online and order one in any of the new specifications right now. Tales of huge waiting times for the e-Niro seem to have abated somewhat, with the Korean brand fulfilling orders far quicker than it could at launch thanks to production having been ramped up.
In terms of price, the e-Niro '2' will set you back £29,595 after the PiCG, £33,850 for the '3' and £36,145 for the '4+'.