In-depth reviews

Kia Niro PHEV review

It's not the most inspiring car to drive, but excellent fuel economy and pretty a decent electric range make the Kia Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid family SUV worth a look

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Price
£30,365 - £32,255
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol

Pros

  • 30-mile electric range
  • Good equipment
  • Long warranty

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Smallish boot
  • Quite expensive
Car typeElectric rangeFuel economyCO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid30 miles202mpg31g/km

The current Kia Niro is not long for this world, soon to be replaced by an all-new model. However, the plug-in hybrid variant of Kia's mid-size SUV that's also available in all-electric and regular hybrid form has been a big hit for the South Korean carmaker. Compared to the regular hybrid, the Niro PHEV is able to offer better fuel economy and a longer electric driving range thanks to a larger battery and a more powerful electric motor.

Aside from the other Niro variants, the Niro PHEV's most obvious rival is the MINI Countryman Cooper S E ALL4, as well as the Hyundai Ioniq Plug-In and Renault Captur E-TECH, which offer similar practicality along with plug-in hybrid power.

Kia claims the Niro PHEV can go for up to 30 miles on a single charge without using the engine – more than enough for most people’s daily commute, even though our experience suggests you'll see around five miles less than that in real-world driving. CO2 emissions of 31g/km are considerably lower than the hybrid’s, making this a more affordable company-car option.

The Niro PHEV is available in two trim levels: the Connect includes a 10.25-inch central touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, roof rails, front and rear parking sensors, a reversing camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, power-folding heated mirrors, dual-zone air-conditioning and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.

Meanwhile, 3 spec models get you automatic lights and wipers and LED fog lights, as well as luxuries such as leather upholstery, power-adjustable heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. Plus, wireless smartphone charging and Kia's app for remote operation of certain functions. All plug-in hybrid Niros get smart cruise control with stop-go functionality, in addition to lane-keeping assistance, lane-following assistance and forward collision avoidance systems.

What the plug-in version of the Niro does have in common with the regular hybrid is its 1.6-litre engine. As you might only expect, the two cars drive in a very similar way. If you spend most of your motoring life in the urban jungle, you’ll appreciate how easily the Niro PHEV gets around, switching between the two parts of its hybrid powertrain.

For the record, the PHEV is a little quicker than the hybrid on paper, but it’s also quite heavy; its 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds is hardly what you’d call quick. Admittedly, the Niro PHEV will be fast enough for most people’s needs. But if you’re the kind of driver who wants a bit more get-up-and-go, the MINI Countryman could fit the bill perfectly.

Overall, in fact, the plug-in Countryman is a much more engaging and exciting thing to drive, but it also highlights how good the Niro is for electric range and efficiency. The Niro feels most at home if you settle back and adopt a more relaxed driving style.

However, if you leave the Niro in normal hybrid mode, you’ll soon expose one of the Niro’s weaknesses: the petrol engine is too eager to kick in when you want to pick up the pace. That’s not ideal when you want the car to use electric power as much as possible to keep your running costs down. Also not ideal is the ride, which is a little on the firm side.

Where the Niro is more impressive is that it’s well built and pretty classy inside. There’s plenty of standard equipment, too, and the car is well suited to family duties. In addition to the generous room in the front, there’s enough room in the rear seats for a couple of adults.

Overall, though, there’s plenty to like about the Niro PHEV, not least the excellent electric range it’s capable of. Yes, you need to keep its batteries charged up to get the best out of it, but that’s something it shares with all plug-in hybrids. And, given how well equipped it is and how spacious the interior is, it’s one of the best plug-in hybrids out there. For a more detailed look, read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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