My, how far KIA has come in a relatively short period of time. The South Korean car manufacturer introduced its first car the Brisa in 1974 and currently in global terms they are number eight in the list.
Yes it certainly seems they have the power to surprise with manufacturing plants now numbering fifteen and sales in one hundred and eighty countries.
By 2021, their aim is to introduce no fewer than 100 new models or updates, this is one car manufacturer who is progressing at a tremendous pace.
When we reach 2025 there will be sixteen eco models in the KIA line-up and recently I paid my second visit to South Korea on my mission to drive the e-Niro, which goes on sale next year.
KIA has stolen the lead in class with range for their new electric model- they claim a range of 455 kilometres. To date, for many the range has been just too short when it comes to all electric power, so this is a very welcome move from the South Korean manufacturer.
With the e-Niro, model choice will certainly not be confusing as there will be just one trim level and it comes with a high specification.
I first cast my eyes on the e-Niro at the Paris Motor Show and it was catching quite a deal of attention and the talking point was certainly the range that it would offer.
You may have heard the term “range anxiety”, one that I myself have endured. It comes when you see that power indicator dropping quickly and you still have a distance to your destination.
Ireland being mainly rural, this is the one electric powered car that should satisfy a lot of needs and of course should prove extremely popular with urban driving.
Battery re-charging can take as little as fifty four minutes- that is on the fast charge to provide eighty percent battery life. A full charge is much slower taking nine hours and thirty five minutes.
In some markets a less powerful battery can be fully charged in six hours and ten minutes, providing of course, a shorter range.
With the e-Niro the customer gets the best of both worlds, a modern Crossover with the alternative to diesel or petrol power.
When it comes to performance, this is impressive with rest to 100kph in just over seven seconds and acceleration is rapid as you leave your start position.
The long distance battery pack (64kWh) is paired with a 201bhp (150kW) motor producing 395Nm of torque and driving through the front wheels.
With this new KIA there are energy harvesting and predictive driving assistant technologies. Regenerative braking technology allows the vehicle to harvest kinetic energy and recharge the battery pack while coasting or braking while the Eco Driving Assistant System provides you with intelligent guidance on how to drive more efficiently. Eco DAS includes Coasting Guide Control and Predictive Energy Control enabling you to maximise vehicle range by suggesting when to coast or brake.
While the electric motor requires no transmission, there is still a pair of paddles behind the steering wheel; these allow you to choose between three levels of energy recuperation. The higher level the more energy the regenerative brakes try to harvest.
The electric parking brake is operated by a button on the centre console panel which you can manually select when stopped and it automatically goes off when you enjoy a seamless start.
There is also a Drive Model Select system which allows switching between Normal, Eco and Sport.
So how does the e-Nero perform regarding performance and handling, already noted brisk acceleration and with the battery pack positioned low down in the body this in no small way delivers improved handling.
Overall the package which KIA provides with their new electric model is good. The styling is punctuated by halogen headlights with Bi-Function projection, front fog lights, LED running lights with rear LED combination clusters. There is privacy glass for the rear windows and tailgate and the 17 inch alloy wheels are special to this model.
Ease of parking with rear parking sensors and a reversing camera and an engine stop/start button and a Smart Entry System.
On the practical side, the rear seats fold down in a 60.40 fashion with a luggage cover for added security.
Safety is paramount and the e-Niro is well equipped in this respect with seven airbags, and an impressive Forward Collision Avoidance System which I experienced for myself in downtown Seoul. Lane Keep Assist System is also very effective. I must add I will never ever complain about what we call dense traffic in Dublin or Belfast, Seoul is one of the mega world cities with a population of 22 million and driving there is an experience.
The e-Niro interior is well appointed with all the goodies we expect in the modern car, eight inch touchscreen sat nav system, use of leather and satin finish trims, altogether a pleasing and well finished set of wheels.
The e-Niro comes with the KIA industry leading warranty which also covers the battery pack and electric motor.
KIA has produced the car, now it is the turn of the relative authorities to provide a good and plentiful supply of charging points.