What is it?
It’s the Company Car of the Year in the 2021 Business Motoring Awards. The all electric Kia e-Niro wowed the judges with its combination of style, equipment, EV range and, most important, tax advantages.
And Business Motoring has just been behind the wheel of this car for a few days and there is a lot going for this car, particularly its range of nearly 300 miles. It shares its electric powertrain with sister brand Hyundai’s Kona which we tested a couple of weeks ago and these cars with their impressive range are a bit of a game changer in electric vehicle terms.
They go a long way to alleviating the dreaded range anxiety – that dreaded feeling that one you run out of juice, you are going to have to spend hours charging the battery up again.
In terms of benefit in kind, the e-Niro is as low as you can go: 16% in 2019/20 before dropping to just 2% the following year.
The Niro is another of Kia’s success stories, and in 2019, we sold over 9,000 examples, more than double the previous year. The vast majority of PHEV registrations will be to fleets, for obvious cost and taxation benefit reasons, but both private and fleet buyers alike are attracted to the competitive running costs of the Niro Hybrid.
Why would you want to drive an e-Niro?
- The Niro is already an established model, previously available in hybrid and PHEV format with more than 11,000 sales in the UK
- It’s electric and with a range of 289 miles which will certainly see you through the daily commute, but it will also allow you to visit business clients without the necessity to stop for a few hours en route to charge up.
- For other markets there is a lower output motor with a shorter range (and cheaper price) but Kia in the UK does not see the benefit of bringing this model in, preferring to market the long range capability
- You can still get an e-Niro for under £35K but the model tested here is the latest high capacity 64kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack paired with a 201hp (150kw).
- With an electric motor, of course, comes instant torque and the e-Niro will happy outdrag pretty much anything from the traffic lights if you are so inclined and won’t make a sound doing it. The 0-60mph time is just 7.5 seconds.
- Company car tax appeal: from £12 a month in 2020/21
From the driving seat. Select drive or reverse via the turnwheel; it’s that simple!
What might put you off an e-Niro?
- Well a nine hour charge time to fully load the battery means that if you are taking really long journeys you need to plan ahead. However a fast charge takes just under one hour and will give you 80% of battery life.
- Price. EVs are still expensive and the compact SUV segment is brimming with other attractive models at lower prices if you feel you’re not yet ready for a move into electrification.
- Where to charge it? The infrastructure is still not great and not always reliable. At home or the office it comes down to what space you have available. Grants are available for home and business chargers
Charging up. Kia e-Niro takes nine hours for a full charge; but 80% of battery capacity can be delivered in less than an hour
Verdict on the Kia e-Niro
If you are seriously looking for an EV then this is a serious option. While prices are high generally for electric cars, the e-Niro actually stacks up well against the Nissan Leaf or the Renault Zoe and has a greater range than either of those.
What the Kia offers against those two is a lot more practical space thanks to its SUV styling. We’ve yet to fully test the range, and whether it shapes up in the middle of winter with lights on, wipers thrashing and heating at full tilt. Hopefully this will come later, but the theory is compelling.
EVs still have a long way to go in terms of acceptance but this is certainly a move in the right direction.
It’s certainly a practical car for the business user. SUV styling means there is plenty of room for people and cargo. The powertrain works well on UK roads, smooth and comfortable on the motorway while nippy and quiet around town.
Like its Hyundai stable mate we found the range indicator pretty accurate as well with no noticeable reduction in charge with lights and wipers etc going.
Plenty of practicality in this compact SUV, including this under floor storage tray for the charging cable
What else should you know about the Kia e-Niro?
1 Kia’s family ‘tiger-nose’ grille exists but who needs a grille on an EV? This has been filled in and colour coded while also featuring an integrated charging port. Redesigned air intakes and new arrowhead-shaped LED daytime running lights combine with blue trim highlights.
2 Despite its impressive torque, surprisingly car companies tend not to certificate EVs for towing.
3 The e-Niro comes armed with a few tricks to help improve range and battery efficiency such as regenerative braking and an Eco Driving Assistant system which will alert the driver as to the best time to lift off the accelerator and coast towards a junction.
4 While there is no transmission, there are paddles behind the steering wheel allowing the driver to choose between three levels of energy recuperation through the brakes.
Kia e-Niro ‘4+’ 64 kWh (model tested)
- P11D Value: £36,395
- BIK band 2018/19: 16%
- 5 door compact SUV
- 201bhp/395Nm, permanent magnet AC synchronous type 64 kWh Electric Motor
- Performance: 7.5secs/104mph
- Range/CO2: 289 miles/0g/km