Kia Niro PHEV vs MINI Countryman PHEV: performance and handling
The Kia isn't as fast or as fun as the MINI, but still drives neatly. The MINI is the drivers' choice
The Niro's powertrain (detailed on the previous page) is geared towards providing a good balance between fuel economy and adequate performance: 139bhp and 265Nm of torque aren't huge numbers, but there's enough shove to keep up with everyday traffic.
The petrol engine's lack of a turbocharger means it can feel a little thrashy when pushed hard, but that's not likely to happen very often in a car such as this. Thankfully, the instant torque from the electric motor helps smoothen out acceleration. Its leisurely 10.4-second 0-62mph sprint is significantly down on the MINI's time, but that's to be expected when the latter produces 221bhp and 385Nm.
The MINI's figures read more like those of a hot hatchback and so are in keeping with the modern MINI brand image. It's much faster than the Kia on paper: 0-62mph takes 6.8 seconds despite the car's considerable 1,760kg weight.
The Niro is the softer of the two, but still has a firmer edge to its ride; it feels most at home on smoother roads, but is better at isolating its occupants from lumps and bumps than the MINI. However, while the Kia is simply easy to drive without being overly communicative, the MINI offers much more responsive steering and feels altogether more agile. It's not quite as lively as its lighter, non-plug-in counterparts, but still gives keen drivers something to enjoy.
As a comfortable, easy-to-drive family car, the Niro meets its brief perfectly; the MINI does almost as good a job but with a firmer ride and more driver appeal. Which you prefer will be down to personal preference, but neither should disappoint.
In This Review
- 1IntroKia's practical and good-value plug-in hybrid family SUV takes on the stylish and sporty MINI Countryman S E ALL4
- 2Range & chargingThe Kia has the MINI beaten on pure electric range and efficiency, although charging will take longer due to its bigger battery
- 3Running costs & warrantyThe Kia is better value for money than the MINI and should cost a little less to run; its warranty is fantastic, too
- 4Performance & handling - currently readingThe Kia isn't as fast or as fun as the MINI, but still drives neatly. The MINI is the drivers' choice
- 5Interior & infotainmentThe Niro is more comfortable and features better infotainment; the MINI feels a little more premium but has costly options
- 6Space & practicalityThe MINI has a bigger boot, but the Niro is still a very spacious family car
- 7Safety & reliabilityBoth cars should be safe, but the Kia has a stronger track record with owners and better warranty cover than the MINI
- 8Verdict & specificationsThe MINI Countryman is a good car, but can't quite compete with the all-round package that is the Niro PHEV