Kia Niro review - Interior, design and technology
Conventional crossover styling will be appealing to buyers who don't like the radical Prius
While the boldly styled Toyota Prius wears its eco-friendly credentials on its sleeve, the Kia Niro favours a more low-key approach. With its traditional compact family hatchback proportions, subtly raised ride height and tough-looking black wheelarch surrounds, the Kia follows a template set by fashionable, conventionally powered crossover models.
It lacks the instant head-turning appeal of a Prius, but this more conventional shape gives the Kia plenty of showroom appeal. Its smattering of off-roader styling cues and less adventurous design approach will be a big draw to buyers who want hybrid efficiency without shouting about it. Better still, the plug-in variant is even more discreet – with the only clues to its 36-mile EV range being an additional filler cap by the nearside front wheel.
Go for the e-Niro, and the big indicator of its purely electric drive is the removal of the hybrid's grille. That leaves a blank piece of bodywork - much like Hyundai has done with its Ioniq and Kona Electrics - and there's a charging socket hidden behind the offset panel in the nose.
The subtle design continues inside, where the Niro feels far more mainstream than a Prius. Yet what it lacks in flair, the interior makes up for with solidity. Everything seems robustly built, while most of the materials have a high-quality look and feel.
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For instance, soft-touch plastic covers the top of the dashboard, and the use of gloss black trim inserts and metal-effect air vent surrounds helps give the cabin an upmarket lift. One eco-minded feature is that you can set the climate controls to focus solely on the driver if you're travelling one-up - this is an eco feature that was first seen on the Kia Soul EV.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Niro 2 gets a seven-inch touchscreen sat-nav system, while the Niro 3 gets a larger eight-inch nav. Both are pretty easy to get along with, and have clear graphics and straightforward destination input.
The only clue to the Niro’s petrol-electric underpinnings is the unique instrument cluster, which features a full-colour 4.2-inch TFT screen and a power meter in place of the traditional rev counter.
This set-up allows you to monitor the energy flow between the batteries, electric motor, engine and wheels, plus it generates numerous fuel use statistics. And as a bit of fun, there’s a neat graphic that ‘grows’ a tree as you drive more efficiently.
Niro 2 cars get two USB sockets, while the Niro 3 also adds a wireless phone charging pad and eight-speaker JBL sound system with subwoofer in the boot.
In this review
- 1Kia Niro reviewThe Kia Niro crossover now comes in hybrid, plug-in and full electric guises
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe Niro is as simple to drive as any other automatic, but it's not very interesting to drive
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsGood economy and low emissions are a given, but they're not quite on par with a Prius just yet
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingConventional crossover styling will be appealing to buyers who don't like the radical Prius
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThere's decent space as the car is designed around its hybrid drive system
- 6Reliability and SafetyThis is new technology for Kia, so there might be issues, but the seven-year warranty will help confidence