Kia Niro review
The Kia Niro crossover comes in hybrid, plug-in and full electric guises
Like its Hyundai Ioniq sister model, the Kia Niro offers three levels of electrification, and arguably it gets better with the more electric input there is. The standard hybrid can't match the better-developed Toyota Prius for smoothness or efficiency, but the plug-in version has a decent all-electric range, while the e-Niro is an EV class leader for how far it can go on a single charge.
The other draw of the Niro is its SUV-style body. That means it's pretty practical, if not all that pretty, while the hybrid/electric drive system doesn't compromise interior space in any way, either. If only the Niro was a bit more special to drive.
About the Kia Niro
2016 saw the Kia Niro first arrive in the UK, but the range has expanded and there are now hybrid, Niro PHEV and electric e-Niro models for sale. The hybrid version was the first to appear in 2016, with the plug-in PHEV arriving in 2017 and the full electric model debuting in 2019.
This template of three alternative fuel options in one body is one that's used by the Hyundai Ioniq, which is the sister car to the Niro, albeit in a hatchback body, rather than an SUV one. Beyond that, the three versions of the Niro each have their own rivals. For the hybrid these include the Toyota Prius and a number of small diesel hatchbacks and crossovers, led by the likes of the Peugeot 3008 and Volkswagen Golf, the PHEV version has to go up against the Prius Plug-in and MINI Countryman S E, while the all-electric version shares running gear with the Hyundai Kona Electric, and takes on the Nissan Leaf, VW ID.3 and Renault Zoe.
One aspect of the Niro that is likely to appeal to buyers is its SUV style body. It's more upright and conventional than cars like the Prius, and this alone could sway buyers into the Kia if they're not fans of the Toyota's futuristic shape. In an effort to distinguish the electric e-Niro from the hybrid versions, this model gets a smooth body-coloured nose incorporating a charging socket, replacing the grille seen on the hybrids, but is otherwise identical to its hybrid siblings.
Car group tests
- Kia Niro PHEV vs MINI Countryman PHEV
- Hyundai Kona Hybrid vs Kia Niro Hybrid
- Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid vs Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
- Kia Niro vs Toyota Prius
The hybrid models feature a 104bhp 1.6 GDi (Gasoline Direct Injection) petrol engine and a 43bhp electric motor for an overall combined output of 139bhp (accounting for power losses between the two drive systems). Both the self-charging and plug-in hybrid models feature a six-speed twin-clutch DCT gearbox.
Power for the electric motor comes from a lithium-ion polymer battery, which is rated at 1.56kWh in the standard hybrid and 8.9kWh in the plug-in version. While the hybrid version runs on electric power as and when it can, the plug-in has an estimated electric-only range of 30 miles. If you do lots of short trips and keep the battery topped up, then that means you could bring your petrol station visits down to a bare minimum.
The e-Niro also uses li-ion polymer batteries, but they are far larger, at 39kWh for the short-range model and 64kWh for the longer range version, which are the same as the Kona Electric. As with the Kona, the bigger battery comes with a more powerful 201bhp electric motor, compared to 134bhp for the small battery. Claimed range for these two is 180 miles for the standard car and a generous 280 miles for the large capacity version.
The Niro range currently comprises 2, 3 and 4 trims, while the plug-in version does without the top-spec 4 specification. The e-Niro 39kWh version is only available in combination with the 2 trim level, while the more powerful 64kWh variant comes with 2, 3 and 4+ equipment lines.
Hybrid prices start from around £25,000, with the plug-in model priced at just over £30,500. Prices for the e-Niro start from about £30,000, after the Government's Plug-in Car Grant, which knocks £2,500 off the list price.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Kia Niro crossover comes in hybrid, plug-in and full electric guises
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Niro is as simple to operate as any other automatic, just don't expect an engaging drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe Niro family offers excellent economy and low emissions across the range, with decent residual values, too
- 4Interior, design and technologyIt's no head-turner, but the Kia Niro feels solidly built and offers good levels of standard equipment
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Niro is a practical crossover, although the plug-in hybrid version offers a smaller boot
- 6Reliability and SafetyKia continues to perform well in our Driver Power awards, while a seven-year warranty provides further reassurance for buyers