We have had 5 days to see how a Kia e-Niro would fit our lifestyle. And the answer from our expert panel of judges is perfectly.
We have picked up the kids from school, gone grocery shopping, attended the gym club and run around a variety of preschool grandkids. No, we didn’t give the dog a ride – we thought that might be a bit too much.
The most impressive thing I found was the 400+ km of range from its 64kWh battery. I haven’t had to plug it in yet after 200km of driving (the grandkids live 50km away). It was a very pleasant drive up the highway. Sitting up high like a boss made me understand why the SUV body shape is so popular.
I had a few surprises – I had to press a button to turn the car on and off (my Tesla Model 3 turns on when you sit in it). A really great feature is the school zone and red light camera warnings that are built-in.
After picking it up on Tuesday (it is a “press car” – I was number 10 to drive it), I assembled a panel of expert judges to give me their thoughts.
The scientist was impressed by what was under the bonnet (yes the motor is quite visible). The bus driver liked the upright seating and visibility.
The carpenter was keen to know how much it would tow (300 kg according to the spec sheet). He thought the interior space was great for the loads he puts into the vehicle but is used to having about a ton of towing capacity. The soccer mum found it easy to pop in the booster seats and get the grandkids in and out.
Although the carpenter really appreciated the old school dials and knobs I found them a little confusing and it took me a few goes to work out the lane keeping, regenerative braking and cruise control. The carpenter is 190cm tall – so we used him to measure the room in the back seat – he fitted in comfortably and also his son, who at 170 cm is catching up fast.
On a trip up the Bruce Highway he commented on how easy it was to hear people talking in the car. He preferred that the design differences to his current petrol car are minimal. He loves the boot space.
Although the e-Niro had much better acceleration than my old Sonata V6 petrol car, I found that it didn’t have the torque I have become used to in my Model 3, either going uphill or taking off at lights – kind of a “hoon lite”. Sadly we won’t be keeping the car – if we did we’d probably name him Bob.
Majella told me she was driving up the highway waving at the other Teslas and they were all looking confused – then she remembered she was in the Kia.
Overall the Kia Niro EV is a great, practical no-nonsense vehicle. No wonder data from Europe shows it to be the number 6 best selling plug-in car in Europe from January to September 2021 with almost 34,000 versions sold.
The big question is. Is it worth the price? At over $70,000 it faces some stiff competition, and might find out-dated by the Kia EV6 that is due on these shores early next year, which will be built on a special electric platform, the same that Hyundai is using for its popular and highly regarded Ioniq 5.
David Waterworth is a researcher and writer, a retired school teacher who continues to provoke thought through his writing. He divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla.