In-depth reviews

Kia Niro Hybrid review

Latest Niro continues to offer regular hybrid power alongside electric and plug-in options

Kia Niro Hybrid
Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Pros

  • Smart looks
  • More practical than before
  • Smooth and efficient around town

Cons

  • Sometimes feels underpowered
  • Occasionally hesitant infotainment
  • Plug-in or EV models cheaper as company cars
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid60mpg107g/km10.8s

Hybrid power is where it all started for the original Kia Niro back in 2016, before either the plug-in hybrid or pure-electric versions joined the range. Across all three powertrains, the Niro has sold well, with over 70,000 registered in the UK during the first-generation car’s time on sale.

The choice of three powertrains has been maintained for this second-generation model, so you can still get a ‘traditional’ non-plug-in petrol-electric setup. This is once again the cheapest Niro variant you can buy, starting at a little under £28,000 to undercut the electric version by over £8,000, and promising up to 60mpg fuel economy and 107g/km CO2 emissions for reasonably low running costs. Both the plug-in and electric models will be much cheaper for company-car drivers to run, however, due to their much lower BiK ratings.

Regardless of what’s powering the Niro, the new car boasts much sharper looks than its predecessor, with little setting the hybrid apart from the plug-in and electric cars at first glance. There’s a slim, chrome-trimmed grille up front, with distinctive boxy LED headlights adding character. Two-tone paint schemes are also available for an even more eye-catching look.

The 1.6-litre engine and motor combination puts out identical 139bhp and 265Nm power and torque figures as the outgoing model, for a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds. As before, though, the Niro Hybrid doesn’t like being hustled, with the six-speed gearbox kicking down sharply if you floor the accelerator, sending the revs skyward. There’s also less low-down power than in either the plug-in hybrid or electric Niro, so the Hybrid isn’t as adept at swift overtakes or punchy acceleration down a motorway slip road.

The car feels better if you work with rather than against it, accelerating gently and lifting off in plenty of time for traffic lights and bends, allowing the strong regenerative braking to scrub off speed and replenish the small 1.32kWh battery in the process. Indeed, the strongest ‘Max’ setting pretty much lets you do all your driving without even brushing the brakes, once you’ve perfected judging when to back off.

A gentler approach suits the Niro’s chassis and suspension, too, as it’ll roll quite noticeably if you try to attack corners like a rally driver. The upside is cushioned progress over the frequent lumps and bumps encountered by UK drivers, while despite the fact that its platform has been lengthened compared to the old car, the new Niro still feels relatively compact from behind the wheel. As this is the lightest of the three Niro variants, it actually feels the most stable over undulating roads, but it’s not quite as cushioned over bumps as the fully electric Niro EV.

The length increase is most evident inside, where there’s been a big improvement in passenger space. A slimmer front seat design has liberated more legroom for back-seat occupants, too, almost eliminating the claustrophobic feel adult passengers had to endure in the old Niro. And in addition to a straightforward increase in space, the new model also boasts clever touches, such as a foldable parcel shelf that takes up less space when not being used. Boot space has increased from 382 to 451 litres, too.

Another big improvement to be found inside is the infotainment system. An eight-inch screen is standard on the cheaper trim levels, incorporating Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, digital radio and a parking camera, but higher-spec models get the same twin 10.25-inch setup as the Kia EV6. Sharp graphics and an intuitive interface are the highlight, although it can occasionally be sluggish to respond to your inputs. The cabin design itself also impresses, with ambient lighting on the dashboard and rising door panels swooping up to meet the bottom of the windscreen pillars.

It all adds up to make the Niro Hybrid a very convincing proposition, particularly for private buyers to whom the company-car tax savings offered by the electric and plug-in hybrid variants don’t apply. The best value is to be found lower down the trim-level ladder, but if you do plump for the range-topping 4 specification, you get a host of goodies, such as a head-up display, heated seats all round, a powered tailgate, a powered sunroof and a high-end Harmon Kardon audio system.

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