The interior layout, fit and finish
The E-Tense's extrovert exterior is matched by an equally eye-catching interior, which makes the Kia e-Niro’s look as interesting as a caretaker's cupboard. DS clearly dug out its most imaginative mood boards, because the dashboard has an unusual layout, with a tessellated pattern of diamond-shaped, touch-sensitive buttons and controls.
Indeed, look around the interior and you'll see a diamond theme just about everywhere, from the air vents to the speakers. Unfortunately, while this makes for a glamorous and unique design, it doesn’t translate to a particularly intuitive user experience.
Those touch-sensitive buttons provide no confirmation when you press them, tempting you to make a second attempt that will sometimes frustratingly cancel your initial stab. You’ll eventually get used to this quirk, but there’s no doubt that the e-Niro’s conventional controls are far more user-friendly.
We prefer the e-Niro’s infotainment system, too. The E-Tense Performance Line gets a 7.0in touchscreen (higher trims have a 10.0in version) and all versions come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, along with a DAB radio. However, the system is generally fiddly to operate and there's often a lengthy delay between you pressing the screen and anything actually happening.
Meanwhile, the digital instrument display behind the steering wheel is small but crisp, with handy readouts telling you how much battery charge you have left and your approximate remaining range – along with sat nav instructions and plenty of other information.
Most of the interior materials are suitably plush. There are plenty of soft-touch areas around the dashboard, even if materials lower down are more durable than they are tactile. Everything feels well screwed together for the most part, too, although overall build quality is still a step below that of the e-Niro.
There’s plenty of adjustment in the driving position, but neither electric seat adjustment nor adjustable lumbar support is offered on any E-Tense. The seats themselves are soft and fairly comfy initially, but not that supportive in corners and some will find them on the narrow side. Although you don't tower over other cars in the E-Tense, you do feel noticeably higher than you would in a Peugeot e-208, for instance.
However, visibility is poor for the class. The E-Tense's chunky front pillars and the kink in the side window-line obstruct your view around corners and when looking left or right, while the thick rear pillars have the same effect on rearward vision. At least rear parking sensors are standard, with a rear-view camera optional.
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