Kia Niro PHEV plug-in hybrid crossover economical everyday runabout
The Kia Niro PHEV is a plug-in hybrid for people who don’t want to shout about eco credentials. Tristan Shale-Hester finds out how electrification gives the Niro a new dimension.
The Niro PHEV is Kia’s answer to two increasingly popular types of car – plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and small crossover SUV.
The Niro’s platform is specifically designed for hybrids and the exterior styled from scratch so it has a new look while still resembling other Kias.
Under the bonnet
The Niro PHEV has a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, paired with an electric motor, and six-speed automatic transmission to produce 139bhp and 265Nm of torque combined. Kia claims it is capable of 217mpg combined, the test car averaged 58mpg, with CO2 emissions of 29g/km.
The Niro encourages smooth acceleration. Pulling away gently allows it to run purely on battery power, prod the accelerator and the petrol engine comes alive. It is claimed to be able to travel up to 36 miles on a single charge.
How it drives
Like most Kias, the Niro has very light steering which adds to a relaxing driving experience, making low-speed driving easier, but there’s not much feel on the open road so doesn’t corner really confidently – not a concern on the school run where a plug-in crossover is likely to spend most of its time.
Space and comfort
Inside, the Niro is well-built and looks smart. The eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system is a highlight – plenty of functions and user-friendly. There are a couple of quirks – a foot-operated parking brake and a traditional key, as keyless entry is not an option.
In terms of spaciousness, the Niro does well. There’s plenty of room for four people to travel in comfort, and a fifth can fit in if necessary.
The boot is adequate in length and width but, with the larger battery pack, not as deep so offers 324 litres of space against the standard 427 litres. It’s not too bad and grows to 1,322 litres with the rear seat backs folded flat.
Value for money is a strong category for the Niro. The PHEV only comes in one spec, which costs £30,495, and includes 16in alloy wheels, eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, eight-speaker premium sound system, autonomous emergency braking and smart cruise control.
You can get the Niro for less money if you opt for the non-plug-in version, which starts at £23,135.
The Kia Niro PHEV is a solid choice for an economical everyday runabout with plenty of space for passengers and some luggage.
It’s powerful enough for most real-world motoring scenarios and there’s plenty of technology, such as radar-guided cruise control, to make that motorway commute less of a faff.
Those who drive long distances without charging on a regular basis may benefit more from a traditional diesel, and people who want more rewarding handling may want to pay a bit more for a MINI Countryman PHEV, but, otherwise, there isn’t much the Niro doesn’t offer.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: Kia Niro PHEV £27,995 after £2,500 government plug-in car grant
Powertrain: 1,580cc, 104bhp, four-cylinder petrol engine and 60bhp electric motor with six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox
Performance: 0-60mph 10.4 seconds; top speed 107mph
MPG: 217 combined
CO2 emissions: 29g/km