ROAD TEST: Kia Niro HEV – it doesn’t get much better

If the idea of an electric car doesn’t spark your interest then going the hybrid route may be a good way to dip your motoring toes into the world of electric driving. Hybrids come as mild-hybrids, full hybrid or plug-in hybrid. All have the benefit of a petrol engine to provide a boost to your long distance confidence that can otherwise be somewhat of a trial in a full EV. The public charging network in the UK is pretty dire.

Kia have a well-earned reputation for building some advanced EVs but also a good range of hybrids and they don’t come much more practical than the Niro. In normal hybrid specification this 5-door hatchback utilises a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 1.32 kwh battery to make it a full hybrid that you never need to plug in. The petrol engine takes care of all that and allows you eco or smart driving modes.

Best described as an interesting design stylistically it won’t suit everyone but is eye catching and very distinctive. Inside the trim is a little austere in places but nonetheless feels well bolted together and is delightfully hushed unless you really push on under acceleration. Although there are no sporting pretensions it’s more than capable of keeping pace with busy traffic. It soaks up the bumps well and is capable of maintaining its equilibrium on twisting roads.

There’s plenty of space for occupants and their luggage and even the lead-in version has enough standard fare to make your motoring life more tolerable. Including powered and heated door mirrors, Android Auto and Apple Car Play, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors and camera, smart cruise control, smart key with push button start, navigation and auto lights. Higher trim models add additional features such as heated front and rear seats, and ventilated front seats plus a heated steering wheel and power tailgate.

Graphics on the instrument displays are crisp, proper buttons make things easier to use and unlike some cars of this ilk the Niro is enough to be different but not different enough to be strange. If that makes sense. It’s also one of a very small number of cars where the usually over sensitive safety kit e.g. lane keep is perfect and doesn’t need turning off.

Priced from £30,045 it stands well against competitors in terms of price and equipment along with the promise of decent economy in the order of 60mpg.

Words by Mark Slack

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