New 2018 Kia e-Niro electric SUV: specs, price and on-sale date

Choice of two battery capacities for Kia e-Niro electric car – up to 301-mile range claimed

Kia has unveiled its its battery-powered e-Niro electric car at the Paris Motor Show, as well as revealing more details about the car and its 301-mile maximum range.

Having been on sale in its native South Korea for some time, the all-electric SUV joins the existing Kia Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid models in European showrooms. This mirrors the mechanically related the Hyundai Ioniq, which is also available with all three power systems.

Best electric cars you can buy in 2018

The Kia e-Niro has been released at a time when reduced-emissions plug-in vehicles are surging in popularity. Many manufacturers are promising EVs in the coming years, including Skoda which will introduce sporty electric eRS models by 2020. Between them, Kia and its sister brand Hyundai have promised 31 electrified vehicles before the end of 2020.

The e-Niro will come to Europe with a choice of two batteries, the high-capacity 64kWh model boasting a 301-mile maximum range as measured under the latest WLTP testing procedure. Alternatively, a smaller 39.2 kWh power pack will provide a 193-mile range.

Kia e-Niro design and technology

Previewed by the more radical Niro EV Concept at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the new addition to the Niro line-up shows strong hints of the concept's filled-in front grille and air intake design, while 'arrowhead' daytime running lights are a further point by which the e-Niro can be recognised. There are special 17-inch alloy wheels, too, which are shaped to house the car's regenerative braking system.

Inside, the gearstick has been replaced by a rotary switch that shares its control panel with buttons for the heated, ventilated seats, heated steering wheel and parking sensors, as well as the drive-mode selector buttons – more about which below. With no mechanical linkages to accommodate, the lower section of the Niro's centre console has been converted into a storage compartment.

As well as bright blue highlights that reflect the e-Niro's exterior detailing, the range-topping model boasts a six-colour ambient lighting system, while a grippy rubberised smartphone shelf can be optionally fitted with a wireless charging pad. The seven-inch infotainment screen may look familiar from other models, but offers functions tailored to electric-car drivers. These include navigation that can find the closest charging point, as well as choosing the most energy-efficient driving route to your destination.

Kia claims that – with 451 litres on offer – the e-Niro boasts more cargo space than many other plug-in and electric vehicles, and has a dedicated storage space for its charging cable.

Technology and performance

Compared to the Kia Soul EV that marked the brand's first entry into the electric-car market, Kia says the e-Niro demonstrates the progress it has made in range and usability. The most expensive 64kWh battery offers a claimed range of 301 miles – or up to 382 miles as measured under the latest WLTP testing cycle. Alternatively, the less expensive 39.2kWh battery will take the e-Niro up to 193 miles, The latter takes 42 minutes to charge from 20 to 80% range using a 100kW fast charger.

Cold weather should have a minimal effect on battery range thanks to a battery heating system that operates when the e-Niro is connected to a charger. Battery power is also preserved by a heat pump, which recovers heat from the engine and battery to help heat the car's interior.

The 64kWh e-Niro uses a 201bhp electric motor with enough pulling power for a rapid 0-62mph time of just 7.8 seconds. The cheaper 39.2kWh version should still prove more than adequate for urban commuting or the occasional jaunt out of town, though – its 134bhp motor is enough for a 9.8-second 0-62mph time.

Despite the Niro's SUV styling, every version is front-wheel drive and Kia says that the low positioning of the battery pack lowers the e-Niro's centre of gravity to increase cornering stability. The drive mode select provides a sport mode that allows you to make the most of that fact, with weightier steering and more aggressive accelerator response. The dashboard display is able to record the percentage of a journey made in 'dynamic' mode in the same way as it does when the car is set to Eco mode.

The e-Niro employs regenerative braking technology to harness power released when decelerating, and the car's sat nav will recommend where the roads and topography allow you to let the car coast, preserving battery power. Buyers can also expect driver aids that allow the e-Niro to follow the car ahead in traffic, relieving driver strain in heavy congestion when a single lane is maintained. The system, named Following Assist, can operate at speeds between 0 and 80mph, using external sensors to maintain a safe distance from other traffic.

Kia e-Niro price and on-sale date

Having been unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, the Kia e-Niro goes on sale in Europe later this year. There's no word yet on UK prices or an on-sale date, though.

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