In-depth reviews

Kia Niro engines, drive and performance

It’s not a thrill-a-minute, but the Kia Niro offers competent family motoring

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance rating

3.0 out of 5

0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
11.5s101mphFront139bhp

If you want sporty driving characteristics from your crossover, you’re not going to be overly impressed by the Kia Niro. But many drivers simply want safe, relaxed and refined performance, and for them the Niro will do just fine.

Kia Niro hybrid engine, 0-62mph and acceleration

The 1.6-litre GDi turbocharged petrol engine in the Niro works in league with an electric motor to produce a combined maximum of 139bhp It’s enough to propel the car from 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 101mph.

The power goes only to the front wheels, through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which is smooth and slick in normal operation, albeit a little slow to respond and kick down at times. If you want to use all of the car's the limited performance, the drivetrain can feel a little strained, but without the characteristically noisy ‘winding-up’ phase of Toyota’s CVT automatic gearbox.

There’s a Sport mode that’s supposed to make the engine more responsive, but the difference is hard to notice. Drive the Niro more gently, though, and the engine is refined and smooth, transitioning almost imperceptibly between electric and petrol power.

Handling

The handling of the Kia Niro is undemanding and safe, but it feels heavy when you’re changing direction quickly. The steering is direct but seems very remote, and as a result the Niro is better suited to relaxed motorway and A-road cruises than twisting country roads.

Ultimately, it's calm and reassuring, and absolutely what most people will want from the Niro even if rivals like the Toyota Corolla prove that you can have a bit more life to the handling without compromising composure, refinement and security. 

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