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ON THE ROAD – IAN LYNAS DRIVES THE KIA e-NIRO

Range anxiety is often one of the nightmares of owning an EV; that feeling when you get stressed out watching the range gauge lower the distance available as you journey. For sure, the one thing that you do not need when behind the wheel is to be stressed. Over the past few months I have tested a number of EVs and while pleasant to drive they failed in one key area- range. More than on one occasion I scrambled to get on the right side of 160km(100 miles). My latest test drive with the Kia e-Niro, however, was certainly very different. I managed a range of 386km (240 miles). Sure, I would like more; but for many this range would be sufficient.

Kia has more to come and the new EV6 which can be ordered now for delivery in October, a range of 508km (316 miles) is the forecast and as regards charging, with 800V from 10 to 80 per cent in just 18 minutes. Returning to the e-Niro, the manufacturer gives a range of 454km (282 miles); but I was happy with my 386km (240 miles) considering that a large part of my week behind the wheel was on motorways or dual carriage ways at the permitted maximum speed and some urban driving thrown in for good measure. I have no doubt you could match the range figure given by Kia; but to be truthful on occasion I floored the e-Niro so any chance of reaching that figure was as likely as  me walking on the moon!

Using a 100kW charger the battery can be replenished to 80 per cent in 75 minutes. I should point out if you decide to charge from a domestic source it is painfully slow. The e-Niro is based on a platform which has been exclusively developed for EVs and can be best described as a crossover with five doors and five seats. In the Kia range it slots in between the sporty Ceed and the highly popular Sportage SUV and in order to save weight the bonnet, tailgate, front bumper, back beam and chassis components are made of aluminium.

With revised styling the e-Niro identifies with the Hybrid and PHEV versions and it takes inspiration from the Niro V concept which was unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas. The e-Niro I had on test was very well appointed and which should satisfy most buyers. When it comes to performance, you will not win a race, but for most buyers there will be little complaint as brisk acceleration takes the e-Niro from rest to 100kph (62mph) in a whisker over seven seconds and on to a top speed of 167kph (104mph) .

Living with this Kia model is easy, the cabin is a pleasant environment and amongst its many features is the company’s rotary gear selector, which I got used to very quickly. The dashboard is split into upper display area and lower control area with fewer, simpler switches; full marks to Kia for this design. The cabin finish is good with the employment of quality soft touch materials that could not be said of early models from Kia. On the practical side and I would rate the e-Niro as a good choice for a family; boot capacity is enhanced 324 to 451 litres compared with its PHEV cousin due to the under boot floor mounted battery pack. The Niro is a relatively new addition to the Kia family arriving in 2018 and during a short history it has collected a number of awards. Safety is well catered for with this member of the Niro line-up as I have come to expect from Kia. All versions feature a series of the company’s latest advanced driving assistance and infotainment systems, building on a reputation for high occupant safety and high tech convenience. Summing up although I am yet to join the EV Club, this is one vehicle I could live with and enjoy and in many ways it is ahead of the competiition.

Ian Lynas

 

 

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