Why the Kia e-Niro was such a success
Branded as “the UKs best affordable electric car” when it was reviewed by Auto Express, the Kia e-Niro was a huge success when it came out. Originally available as a hybrid, the now facelifted ‘Niro EV’ (as it’s currently known) is only available as an all-electric car.
But in this post, I’m going to focus on the one that made them a serious contender in the electric car space, the earlier ‘e-Niro’ (the fully electric version of the hybrid I just mentioned), released in the UK in 2019. Let me try and unpick why you shouldn’t overlook this seemingly sensible family hatch…
What are the specs then?
NOTE: this is for the Long Range 64kWh battery variant of the e-Niro produced during 2022. There was also a smaller 39kWh Standard Range version available too.
Why are these important? Well, prospective buyers want only the best for their money (obviously) and a big blocker to EVs are the above statistics.
At a glance, if an electric car couldn’t grab people’s attention and showcase what’s perceived as a ‘decent’ amount of range, with a ‘decent’ amount of power, and charge ‘relatively quickly’, people wouldn’t be interested from the outset. Kia knew this, so they threw everything they had at the e-Niro the make sure it stood out against its rivals and indeed against cynics too. It showed that electric cars can be genuinely useable in the modern day.
Let’s not forget, 201hp is more power than the recently deceased Ford Fiesta ST, a blisteringly quick little car. This EV is one that can shift if you really want it to, despite its comparatively sedate looks over a hot hatch.
230 miles of range in the real-world is seriously impressive too (though not if you drive it like said Fiesta ST I imagine). Even today, 4 years on, that’s a healthy amount of range. Back in 2019, it was only really rivalled by larger cars from premium brands like Tesla. And those cars could be upwards of twice the price, don’t forget.
Plus, being able to charge at a rapid charger comfortably in under an hour meant it sold well to those who regularly commute long distances. These statistics meant that, for those who focus on the stats, it ticked all the boxes before they’d even stepped foot anywhere near the car in real life. The e-Niro’s impressive numbers hooked people, got them interested enough to drive and then… boom. They were winning.
Isn’t it a bit boring though?
So, here’s the thing; some people say boring, others say understated.
I’d argue looks wise at lease… it’s ‘non-offensive’. Kia played it semi-safe here; they knew they needed to overcome the EV stigma to get these cars off the production line and onto peoples drives. Don’t confuse that with unattractive though! The smooth lines on the rear end and the stylised headlights make it stand out enough from the crowd to get attention, but not so much that it’s jarring. It was a clever move by the Korean manufacturer.
At the end of the day, that bubbly shape just means it’s aerodynamic enough to make the car greatly efficient, but also spacious enough inside to feel really airy for passengers front and back. Important for families who need space on a tight budget.
Again, a semi-safe, non-offensive interior.
All that means is all the controls are where you expect and they’re easy to use, particularly when driving (which is great news for those against the touchscreenification of car dashboards). There is still an infotainment hub though with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay on models from the Kia e-Niro 2 upwards, and generally speaking equipment levels were generous across the model range.
Seats were comfortable and had a good position in the car, plus the boot was more than enough for families alike… it’s all a bit too good to be true, right?
What’s the catch?
It’s an electric Kia, it won’t be good to drive…
Being electric, power is instant and there’s an awful lot of it for a standard family hatch. Darting off the line can get addictive and there’s something really rather amusing about pulling away from the lights next to a hot hatch and beating them.
Yes, okay, it’s not the best in the twisties but Kia worked wonders to make this car a very competent all-rounder. Suspension is soft enough to make it comfortable, but not wallowy enough to make your kids sick on a country road. The steering is direct enough to entertain the driver (albeit to an extent) but supple enough to make long corners or lane changes on motorways smooth. Noise is suppressed and the calm cabin means whoever you have onboard is sure to appreciate the ride.
I know it might be hard to believe on the face of it if you’re not familiar, but, seriously, this EV is genuinely good to drive. Don’t take our word for it, trust a leading car magazine.
Sure. Don’t I see them as taxis all the time though?
And what’s wrong with that?!
Taxi drivers are on the road constantly. Their cars need to be comfy, easy to drive, cheap to run and endlessly reliable; no car, no work when you’re a taxi driver. Right?
They put all components on their cars through intense pressure all day and night, every day and night, for hundreds and thousands of miles in a very short space of time. Think about it: doors constantly opening and closing, seats and materials constantly being worn down for everything they’re worth, all the electrical systems working overtime, all the time, the motors and suspension put through high stress with all the stop/start driving and they never get a break whatever the weather.
The point is, if a taxi firm choose a car to join their fleet, they need to be confident it’s damn good and won’t lose them money in repairs or fuel. And equally, not upset their staff by being totally rubbish to drive all the time.
So, ditch the stigma; I’m firmly of the belief that if a car takes off in the taxi world, it’s because said car is very, very good at being… a car. 🤷♂️
For those that want a reliable family wagon, that’s very much a big selling point in my mind.
Should I buy a Kia e-Niro then?
Eh, you could subscribe. 😉
(Unapologetic plugs aside) the e-Niro is a well sorted and, possibly more importantly, well-loved mid-sized car. It’s:
- Unoffensive to look at or be in
- Comfortable and quiet
- Fast and entertaining enough
- Full of equipment that’s easy to use
- And cheap to run and maintain.
It keeps parents happy, it keeps kids happy, it keeps taxi drivers and their regulars happy. At the end of the day, the Kia e-Niro is a brilliant car… for anyone.
It’s no wonder it was so successful.