The reception of the second all-electric Kia to go on sale in the UK, the award-winning e-Niro crossover hatchback, has been somewhat different than that of the first. The Soul EV went on sale in 2014, but it took until 2018 for the car to pass 500 registrations in this country.

That was a crossover supermini initially available with a 27kWh drive battery, and with 132 miles of claimed range, 0-62mph performance taking longer than 10 seconds and a punchy £30k asking price. The e-Niro marks a stark contrast to the original Soul EV in so many ways, but the biggest of them all is nicely epitomised by the fact that it burned through the 900-unit UK sales allocation for 2019 inside of its first month on general sale.

With a battery supply bottleneck limiting Kia’s production ramp-up, dealers are currently advising customers putting a deposit down today that it might be a year, or longer, before their orders can be satisfied. There is an outstanding e-Niro order bank of some 5000 cars to deliver in Kia’s native South Korea alone.

You’d have to assume, then, that Kia has done things a lot differently with the e-Niro than it did back then with the Soul EV. People all over the world are plainly very ready to buy this car – and this week, we measure precisely how great a step change in the developmental story of the mass-market electric car it represents.

Top 5 Crossover hatchbacks

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Price £32,995* Power 201bhp Torque 291lb ft 0-60mph 7.2sec 30-70mph in fourth na Fuel economy 3.5mpkWh CO2 emissions 0g/km 70-0mph 45.3m

Kia offers the Niro crossover in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and now fully electric forms, although the only one available in more than one trim and equipment level is the first in the list (2, 3 and 4 trims, with just over £4000 between the cheapest and most expensive).

The cheapest hybrid still gets touchscreen sat-nav and a reversing camera as standard; the most expensive adds smart cruise control, xenon headlights and leather upholstery. Interestingly, the e-Niro gets bigger alloy wheels and a bigger boot than the PHEV.

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First drives

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