What Car? Electric Car Awards in association with ONTO
Electric Car Awards 2021: Best electric small SUV
With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best electric small SUV...
Before its triumph in 2019, if you wanted an electric vehicle (EV) with a long enough range to be your only mode of automotive transportation, you’d need to remortgage the house and buy a Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla Model S. But Kia’s SUV showed that you could have an excellent range in a brilliant EV for a lot less cash.
Two years on, the EV landscape has changed quite dramatically, but one thing remains the same: the e-Niro is still picking up awards.
A recent update to the car has made it better than ever, with equipment levels being shuffled around to enable the e-Niro with its biggest, 64kWh battery to qualify for the Government’s £2500 electric car grant (for cars costing less than £35,000) in entry-level 2 trim.
And that’s the specification we’d go for. You still get luxuries such as adaptive cruise control and a digital instrument panel, and while the upper trim levels bring more kit, they cost too much to qualify for the grant.
There’s also a cheaper version of the e-Niro with a smaller, 39kWh battery, a less powerful electric motor and an official range of around 180 miles. But for the sake of a £2000 saving, you’d be sacrificing a lot of extra miles from a full charge and therefore a lot of peace of mind on longer journeys. The 64kWh version is definitely worth the extra.
And if you get one, you’ll have a car that’s comfortably better in most ways than its rivals at the non-premium end of the market. The Citroën e-C4 and Vauxhall Mokka-e are decent electric SUVs, but the e-Niro has them beaten when it comes to handling (which is very tidy), practicality, performance (sufficient to give plenty of hot hatches a fright) and range. Kia’s exemplary seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty just sweetens the deal.
You might view the closely related and similar-priced Kia Soul EV and Hyundai Kona Electric as alternatives, too, but the e-Niro is roomier inside than the Kona and has a more settled and cushioned ride than both.
Inside, the e-Niro may not have the visual pizzazz of the Peugeot e-2008, but it’s built to last and comes with a perfectly decent 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system. For a ‘small’ SUV, it’s big on space, too. The boot will easily manage the luggage for a family holiday, and you’ll struggle to find anything in this price bracket with more accommodating rear seats.
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