In-depth reviews

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.

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.

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