All-new Kia Niro review
Hybrid cars are all the rage these days – or so it seems. Will this technology really take over one day? I don’t have a crystal ball, so I can’t tell you. But a lot of car makers seem to be following the ‘green’ hybrid or full-electric trend – and now Kia has joined the party. The brand-new Kia Niro hybrid is powered by a conventional 1.6-litre GDi petrol engine, together with a 32kW electric motor. There’s also a lithium-ion polymer battery where energy is retained. This arrangement is comparable with the one in the new Toyota Prius, and returns up to 74.3mpg, alongside CO2 emissions starting from 88g/km.
The all-new Kia Niro is larger than its sibling, the Cee’d, yet more compact than its other relative – the handsome and ultra-popular Sportage. The Niro is Kia’s first stab at a hybrid crossover model, but it really doesn’t show. Sure, there are copy-cat elements, such as white plastic decorations inside the cabin, particularly around the inner door handles. These are, no doubt, inspired by Toyota, but you can let Kia off because every car maker ‘borrows’ ideas. It’s a fashion thing – and, by its very nature, fashion is all about ensuring you’re ‘down with the kids’ on the latest style.
The all-new Kia Niro’s body is pretty square, but it’s not at all ugly – quite the reverse, in fact. The car has a simple, uniform, fetching form, that has suggestions of Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) about it. At the front, the Sportage’s DNA comes through – most noticeably around the headlights. Likewise, the backside of the Niro is easy-on-the-eye, with a traditional tailgate and a few slivers of silver trim.
The Kia Niro will seat four-up comfortably, or five at a push. The boot is a good size – certainly big enough for a young family’s needs. The steering wheel is pleasantly thick to grip and the dials and switchgear are clear and intuitive to use. The only difference between this and a traditionally powered car is an energy flow meter replacing the standard rev counter. There’s also a drivetrain graphic displaying the energy stream between the Niro’s engine, battery and wheels.
On start-up, the Niro sounds like it’s not switched on. That’s because, as with all hybrid vehicles, the power-plant under the bonnet doesn’t cut in straight away. Instead of engine tick-over, you hear a chime, indicating the Kia is running. It’s not long before the 105PS petrol unit makes its presence known, though.
Behind The Wheel
On the road, the car delivers easy-going performance, thanks to a six-speed automatic transmission. And, while the Niro is no performance car, the extra power the petrol unit receives from the electric motor is perceptible. The Kia also feels planted and handles the straights comfortably and ably. It’s only on more scarred B-road surfaces that the model’s firm set-up results in a bit of twitchiness. The Niro has to have stiff suspension, though, in order to handle the extra bulk of the hybrid arrangement. Happily, there’s a silver lining to every cloud and this rigidity means body lean is hardly detectable in corners.
The Kia Niro is available in a four model line-up, labelled ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’. All are well-equipped with luxury, comfort, driver assistance and connectivity features. Every Niro has hill-start assist control, a lane-keep assist system, a speed limiter and cruise control. The new model also comes factory-fitted with a DAB radio and is able to support smartphone connectivity and music streaming.
Pros ‘n’ Cons
- Efficiency √
- Handling √
- Practicality √
- Equipment √
- Leisurely Pace X
Fast Facts (Kia Niro ‘First Edition’ – as tested)
- Max speed: 101 mph
- 0-62 mph: 11.1 secs
- Combined mpg: 64.2
- Engine layout: 1580cc 4-cylinder petrol + 32kW electric motor
- Max. power (PS): 141 (combined engine + electric)
- CO2: 101 g/km
- Price: £26,995