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Anyone doubting the massive appetite for, and interest in, electric cars (EVs) should have been at a special open day last Saturday.

As much by chance as design I came across an event organised by the famous Bolands group at the Newbay House hotel on the verdant fringes of Wexford town.

The attendance spoke volumes for the level of EV interest: the place was jammed. And many were there to buy and not just kick tyres, according to sources.

To my great surprise there were two major debutants among the several electric models on show: the new KIA eSoul and eNiro.

I was able to briefly test-drive both, accompanied, among others, by two knowledgeable executives who answered our questions in great detail.

KIA’s electric duo will be officially rolled out here soon, so this was, effectively, an unscheduled ‘first Irish drive’.

The eNiro is the one they expect to attract most buyers but I’d go for the eSoul.

The eNiro I drove had a dark and dull cabin; the Soul’s was bright and cheerful. Our eSoul model also had a much nicer dash and central display.

Both cars had more-than-decent amounts of usable cabin and boot space: we had plenty of head, leg and elbow room.

And both drove comfortably, with instant acceleration from the off.

What a great idea to show so many models (from BMW’s i3 to Volvo’s XC90 plug-in hybrid) in the same place. This is a great way to meet and be informed.

In addition, there was a lot of good information from experts on the whole issue of charging.

I’ll have more on the KIAs when they are officially launched next month but here are battery, range and price details for you:

The eNiro has two battery options: 39.2kw (289km range) and 65kw (455km).

The eSoul has a 65kw battery pack and a claimed range of 452km.

The lower-range eNiro costs from €33,495; long range, €37,495.

The eSoul entry-level costs from €35,995; higher trim, €37,495.

The EV system is similar to the Hyundai Kona’s, which I’ve previously tested and returned 417km, so the KIA figures are on the button.

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