Select ‘Sport’ mode and press the accelerator pedal on an e-Niro for the first time and you have to be careful not to spin the wheels as you leap off. It really is that powerful. It’s not uncontrollable, but it does take a little getting used to, especially if you are used to a petrol or diesel which takes its time to bring in the power. Two other modes are available – predictably called Normal and Eco – which alter the feel of the throttle pedal and make it less responsive. Eco actually cuts the engine power too, making the car more efficient and eking more mileage from the battery. Even in Eco, it doesn’t feel underpowered and the e-Niro keeps building speed for almost as long as you need it, silently propelling the car up to the legal motorway speed limit without any fuss and at a pace which can surprise other motorists. Certainly it has no problems whipping up to the pace of motorway traffic when you pull out from a slip road.
Despite the perky performance, the e-Niro is not designed to be a sportscar and it doesn’t behave like one on the road. There are three drive modes – Sport, Normal and Eco – which change the level of effort required to steer the car, and subtly change the response you get when pushing the accelerator pedal. Whichever mode you choose, the e-Niro copes with bumps and corners reasonably well, but it’s not really a car you’d go out to have fun in. The steering feels a little artificial and squeezing the accelerator pedal in the middle of a bend can making it squirm in your hands as the tyres struggle to grip when fed with the electric motor’s power. Despite its looks, the e-Niro is not a four-wheel drive, and the two driven wheels sometimes can’t cope. Instead of trying too hard to drive quickly, it’s best to sit back and let the e-Niro do what it is best at – cruising around in a relaxed, quiet and refined manner.