Kia e-Niro electric car first drive review

It’s not often you’re invited to one of the world’s most heavily armed regions to test a new car, but that’s exactly what I’ve done to get behind the wheel of the latest electric model due to arrive in the UK next year.

I’ve travelled all the way to the demilitarized zone – or DMZ – separating South from North Korea to try Kia’s answer to the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X, the all-new e-Niro.

While it might not have the premium feel to go into battle with these £60,000-plus luxury vehicles, the £33,000 version I’ve been driving has all the artillery to become a worthy zero-emissions option for British car buyers wanting to ditch petrol and diesel.

In the zone: Ray Massey has been behind the wheel of the new Kia e-Niro electric car in the demilitarized zone - or DMZ - separating South from North Korea before it arrives in the UK next year The Kia e-Niro is due to arrive in UK showrooms in April 2019, with First Edition cars priced from £32,995 - once you take into account the £3,500 plug-in vehicle subsidy Ray Massey drove the zero-emissions model near the Imjin River in the city of Paju in the democratic South and was impressed how much it felt like a proper car to drive A hard-working 150kWh (201bhp) electric motor propels the e-Niro from rest to 60mph in 7.5 seconds and up to a top speed of 104mph The Kia e-Niro is the sibling of the Hyundai Kona Electric and share many of the same underpinnings Kia claims drivers can boost the battery to 80% capacity in just 54 minutes when it's plugged into the most powerful (100kW) super-fast charger, or 1 hour and 15 minutes with a 50kW version  On a full charge, the Kia Niro has an impressive driving range of 282 miles The car will even coach the driver on how to improve range by recommending when to coast and when to brake- allowing the battery to regenerate with more power while still in motion The heavy batteries are located between the two axles, meaning the centre of gravity is low to improve stability The e-Niro's relatively low price - compared to rival electric models - could make it a viable option for Britons when it arrives next year  Another seven-inch screen in the instrument cluster shows power flows to and from the battery, and can score the driver according to how economically they are driving Launch models come with full leather and are fully loaded with kit and safety features There's plenty of rear legroom for passengers. And because it's electric it means there's no high transmission tunnel for the person sat in the middle seat There's a small storage compartment under the boot floor to carry the charging cables There's a small storage compartment under the boot floor to carry the charging cables

There’s a small storage compartment under the boot floor to carry the charging cables

2019 Kia e-Niro facts

On sale: From April 1, 2019

Price: (First Edition model) £32,995 after £3,500 taxpayer-funded Government-grant

Length: 4,375mm 

Width: 1,805 mm 

Height: 1,570mm 

Weight: 1.812 tonnes

Drive: Front-wheel drive

High capacity Long range (64kW battery pack) average: 282 miles

Acceleration 0-60mph: 7.5 seconds

Top speed: 104mph

Transmission: 1 speed automatic

Wheels: 17 inch alloy

Propulsion: 150kWh (201bhp) electric motor

Power: 64 kWh Li-on polymer battery pack Number of cells: 294

Charging times:

Domestic plug full charge (AC 230V): 29 hours

Fast charge: AC (7.2kW ): 9 hours 50 minutes

Rapid charger: DC Charge time (50kW): 80 per cent charge: 1 hour 15 minutes

DC charge (100kW) 80per cent charge: 54 minutes

Warranty: 7 years/100,000 miles. Also covers battery and electric motor

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