Electric SUVs are the new black. Ever since Tesla came out with the gull-winged Model X, we’ve seen the arrival of the likes of Jaguar’s I-Pace and Hyundai’s Kona Electric, while everyone from Skoda to Vauxhall are weighing up how they can get in on the action by batting around their respective concepts.
Kia is the latest to join the fray, dishing up a battery-powered version of its Niro softroader: the not-so-imaginatively named e-Niro. Here’s everything you need to know about it…
Precisely how far you can go in any electric car is always a major factor.
Kia claims that the e-Niro is capable of driving for up to 382 miles between charges.
That’s on an urban cycle – i.e. easy inner city driving – but even on the WLTP combined cycle, it still exceeds 300 miles, which puts it further down the road than the Jaguar I-Pace (298 miles). However, out on the road, we’re confident the Model X would go for longer.
What actually gets the e-Niro moving?
Power stored in the car’s high-capacity 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery drives a 150 kW electric motor on the front wheels to produce the equivalent of 201bhp and up to 395 Nm of torque.
A version with a smaller battery pack (39.2 kWh) is matched to a 100 kW (134bhp) motor to provide a cheaper if slightly compromised option.
In addition to the pure-electric models, a conventional hybrid and a plug-in hybrid version incorporating a petrol engine are also available.
How fast does the E-Niro go?
Nobody is expecting the kind of pace delivered by the Nio EP9 (0-62mph in 2.7 seconds, baby!) but this Kia can sure kick, reaching 62mph in 7.8 seconds.
The smaller battery pack takes a little longer, taking 9.8 seconds to complete a 0-62mph sprint.
So how much will the e-Niro be?
Buying into the electric revolution isn’t cheap with the I-Pace costing upwards of £63k, while a Model X will set you back £80k.
Kia is aiming to address this by offering a more affordable route into electric SUV ownership. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet but it is expected to be from around £30k.
Preserving battery power
A number of energy-harvesting and predictive driving assistant technologies come packed into the E-Niro, designed to improve the car’s range.
Regenerative braking technology allows the Niro to harvest kinetic energy and recharge the battery pack while coasting or braking.
Similarly, the eco driving assistant system provides drivers with intelligent guidance on how to drive more efficiently and enables drivers to maximise vehicle range by suggesting when to coast or brake.
Drivers can use paddles on the steering wheel to 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.
Like every new Kia, the E-Niro is very safe and comes with a range of advanced driver assistance systems to mitigate the risk of a collision.
For instance, there’s the Kia Vehicle Stability Management (VSM), which provides maximum stability under braking and cornering, as well as features you’ll have come to expect from any car that takes safety seriously.
That means you get forward collision warning and assistance, smart cruise control, high beam assist, driver attention warning, and finally, lane following assist, which tracks vehicles in front of the car in traffic and detects road markings to keep the E-Niro in its lane on the motorway.
The first E-Niros are expected to reach their owners before the end of 2018.
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