Kia Niro Review & Prices
The Kia Niro is a sensible and practical family car in either hybrid or plug-in hybrid form, but its new higher quality is accompanied by a higher price
What's not so good
Find out more about the Kia Niro
If you’re looking for a sensible, practical and efficient small SUV, then the Kia Niro could be what you’re after.
It’s a bit like Pippa Middleton, in that it’s completely overshadowed by the Princess Kate all-electric Kia Niro EV that definitely takes more of the limelight.
But while around half - and rising - of this second-generation of Niro will be electric-powered, you shouldn’t dismiss the hybrid and plug-in hybrid Niro models too quickly just because their technology isn’t quite so headline-grabbing.
The Niro, in all its forms, is a small SUV designed around practical family life. Think Toyota C-HR, Honda HR-V or Mini Countryman. But sensible doesn’t mean it’s boring to look at, with plenty of sharp styling, particularly around the front-end, which is a striking design featuring lots of slender lines, and at the back with the arrow-shaped rear lights. The Audi R8-style coloured panel stands out, but is only an option on top-spec cars, with the regular models sticking with just the one colour of bodywork, which is maybe the neater and less overt choice.
Move inside, and the quality has been raised significantly, continuing the trend with the latest breed of Kia models led by the EV6 and Sportage. There’s plenty of soft-touch material and, depending on which spec you choose, a couple of big screens for the dashboard and infotainment. There’s also a load of stowage space across the front of the cabin, and your rear passengers will be more than happy with the room on offer in the back seats.
The interior quality has been raised significantly, continuing the trend with the latest breed of Kia models
Boot space depends on whether you go for the hybrid or plug-in hybrid, with the latter’s larger battery chipping away more than 100 litres of boot space at 348 litres. The hybrid is 24 litres shy of the electric Niro at 451, but it’s a nice square shape with a useful soft load cover and some tie-down points.
It’s fair to say that the Niro offers very little for those seeking a sporty drive, instead being focused more on providing the comfort levels appreciated in a sensible family hatchback. The Niro hybrid, which uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine combined with electric motor and ‘self-charging’ battery, has a fairly modest 139hp. That rises for the plug-in hybrid, deploying a larger battery and a more powerful electric motor to take the combination up to 180hp. Which makes the Niro PHEV quicker in a straight line, but it’s still not a car that enjoys a twisty back road.
But the news is certainly better from a comfort perspective, particularly across speed bumps and bigger bits of dire road condition, and around town the large wing mirrors, higher driving position and big areas of glass up-front are a boon for visibility.
The switch between petrol and electric power is pretty seamless, and unless you’re accelerating it’s not easy to tell if the engine is in action rather than the car running on electric power. Only when asking the engine to work hard does its noise level become notable. There is though a bit of wind and road noise that builds at higher speeds.
If a Niro would slot nicely into your life, click the button to check out deals on a new Kia Niro. Alternatively, you can read on for our in-depth driving, practicality and interior review if you want to find out more.
The Niro is a pricier car than the first generation of this small crossover, with a hike that is at least in line with improved technology and quality. The hybrid version is the cheapest, rising by over £5500 to the plug-in hybrid, and then by more than £2000 for the full electric Niro EV.
Price-wise, the Niro Hybrid sits roughly in line with the Honda HR-V and slightly below Toyota’s C-HR among the limited number of hybrid SUVs available. The plug-in hybrid version costs a little less than a Mini Countryman, one of the few plug-in hybrids on sale of a similar size, outside of the premium brands such as the Audi Q3 PHEV.
Comfort takes priority over driving enjoyment for this sensible family model
A higher driving position and plenty of glass area means this visibility is good for piloting the Niro through town. At lower speeds the hybrid or plug-in hybrid system, depending on which model you go for, will run on purely electric mode, so you won’t be emitting anything from the exhaust pipe. The engine kicks in subtly when more performance is requested by the driver’s right foot, and the plug-in hybrid in particular offers a good pick-up of performance. The regular hybrid is adequate rather than speedy, but its 139hp, compared to the plug-in’s 180hp, does account for the less-rapid initial surge when picking through gaps in the traffic.
The big steering wheel has a fairly light quality to it in terms of weighting, making manoeuvring simple, and the Niro comfortable skips over the likes of speed bumps without stress.
All cars get rear parking sensors and a parking camera as standard, while everything above the entry ‘2’ grade adds satnav and front parking sensors.
The PHEV model has four-stage regenerative braking, which alters the level of deceleration by the car when you lift off the accelerator. The braking force puts energy back into the battery and the four levels go from virtually nothing through to the car coming to a stop on its own without needing to touch the brake. It’s a shame that the hybrid doesn’t have even a B mode to increase the standard level, as fitted to other hybrids such as the Toyota system used on many of its cars.
On the motorway
Out of town, the Niro is also perfectly pleasant, although there is a degree of wind and road noise, in part made louder by the good levels of engine refinement when the car isn’t running on battery alone.
And while far from uncomfortable, the suspension does seem to want to let you know about the bumps it’s absorbing, with a little ripple effect at higher speeds. The big front seats are comfortable and supportive, although the headrests could do with being adjustable forward-to-back as they are set a little further forward than is ideal.
On a twisty road
Twistier roads or quickly-taken roundabouts aren’t the Niro’s core environment, with the car leaning through bends more than is entirely welcome. There’s a fairly pointless Sport mode that makes the accelerator response sharper, but it doesn't do anything to make a sensible family car any more fun to drive, and it’s not hard to end up with a bit of tyre squeal from more enthusiastic cornering.
The big steering wheel also amplifies that, giving you the feeling of being behind the wheel of something larger than it is, rather than being a car that you could describe as in any way nimble. But the comfort and refinement strengths of the Niro come to the fore, as long as you’re happy not driving like you’re in a rush.
The Niro scores very well for interior space, quality and all the sensible stuff you’d want from this sort of car, although the door bins could certainly be larger
Space and practicality are words the Niro could have been built around, with plenty of stowage space, room for passengers and a decent boot space all very much present and correct.
There’s a huge amount of central storage, including a removable divider that, when taken out, creates a long area between the front seats. There are a pair of cupholders with a spring-loaded panel to secure different sizes of container, and a space in front of the gear lever or selector, depending on model, to store your phone. On trim level 3 and above, that spot also houses the wireless charging pad for your phone.
The only negatives are that the central armrest doesn’t slide and that the door bins are a bit on the small side. Unlike the glovebox, which is a decent size.
The wide front seats provide a nice level of comfort, and it’s easy to find a good driving position. Despite the higher position, the way the door armrest and window/mirror control are set high on the door panel make you feel a bit cocooned in the cabin, rather than perching too high.
Space in the back seats
Parents will appreciate the clever pair of USB-C sockets mounted into the side of the front seats, giving rear occupants somewhere to plug in without draping wires across the floor. Those youngsters in the back will have plenty of room to grow in the Niro, with head and legroom in plentiful supply for a car of this size.
The ISOFIX points are a little fiddly to access, but that’s partially forgiven by the wide opening of the rear doors, which makes it easier to get child seats or less mobile passengers into the back. Like those in the front, the rear door bins aren’t the biggest.
Boot space differs depending on which Niro you go for, with the plug-in hybrid getting the least space thanks to having to package a larger battery along with the engine. That all adds up to a 348-litre boot, which increases to 451 litres for the regular hybrid, as its smaller battery can be easier packaged. Neither can compare to the all-electric Kia Niro EV, which has a 475-lite boot, but the numbers stack up well against the likes of Toyota’s C-HR (377 litres) and the Honda HR-V (319 litres).
The hybrid’s extra space over the PHEV means it gets a two-position boot floor, while the PHEV makes do with a smaller under-floor spot that can store the charging cables. There are also small recesses either side to keep loose items from rolling around the boot, and you also get a luggage hook on either side of the boot.
Dropping the rear seats offers up a flat load floor of 1342 litres on the hybrid and 1445 on the plug-in hybrid. The parcel shelf is a flimsy fabric effort that does at least easily sit unobtrusively on the boot floor when not in use.
High-quality cabin with plenty of clever kit, but you can find some cheaper plastics further down the cabin
The quality of the Niro’s cabin generally impresses, following on from the likes of Kia’s EV6 and Sportage, both recent impressive new cars from the Korean brand.
There’s plenty of soft-touch material across the cabin, including the top of the door panels, although further down some harder and cheaper materials are evident.
The climate and audio controls are kept separate from the touchscreen system, mounted on the same set of switches across the centre of the dashboard, with a toggle switch to flick between media and climate switches. It’s a clever design that cuts down on the number of switches and buttons without resorting to hiding everything in touchscreen menus that can be harder to operate on the move.
The touchscreen system itself, 8.0-inch on the entry 2 trim level and 10.25 inches on the higher trims, is sensibly laid out and easy to operate, partially because it’s not overloaded with functions.The smaller one is noticeably smaller, thanks to the matt plastic panel surround that hints of the larger screen available on more expensive trim levels. The screen sits on the same sweeping panel alongside a 10.25-inch dash display that can show a raft of information depending on the driver’s preference.
All Niros are fitted with Android Auto and Apple Carplay, as well as clever adaptive cruise control control and 17-inch alloy wheels, while the step from 2 to 3 trim adds privacy glass, heated front seats and steering wheel, wireless smartphone charger, electric folding door mirrors and auto wipers.
Top-spec 4 trim level cars gain head-up display, heated outer rear seats, ventilated powered front seats, powered tailgate and an electric sunroof.
The two choices of power here have very different costs attached to them.
The plug-in hybrid is the more expensive by several thousand pounds, but as long as you can run it on the battery as often as possible, you’ll start recouping that extra outlay. The battery has an official range figure of up to 40 miles before the engine takes over (38 on higher trim levels with bigger alloy wheels), which gives an official fuel economy figure in the hundreds, although with PHEVs it’s entirely down to how much time you spend using battery power rather than petrol. But the PHEV also gets a CO2 emissions figure of 18-22g/km depending on spec, so VED is kept low for the first year at just £10, and anyone paying company car tax will find bills are much lower than the hybrid Niro, although not compared to the Niro EV we’ve reviewed separately.
The PHEV and hybrid score well for efficiency against the likes of the Toyota C-HR, and Honda HR-V on the hybrid side, and Mini’s Countryman in the case of the plug-in.
The hybrid is getting on for £6000 cheaper than the PHEV from a list price point of view, so it makes far more sense unless you are paying company car tax, or if you’ll run it solely on electric, in which case the full electric Niro would possibly make more sense. The hybrid has official figures of at least 60.1mpg and 106g/km of CO2 emissions, improving to 64.2mpg and 100g/km for the entry 2-spec car.
The other thing that that extra money for the PHEV brings is more power. While the regular hybrid has 139hp, which equates to a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds, the plug-in hybrid’s bigger electric motor gives it an additional 41hp, knocking up to a second off the acceleration time.
There’s a good amount of safety kit on offer with the Niro, as with all models you’ll get forward collision assist that can pick out cyclists, pedestrians and other cars, as well as clever cruise control that can bring the car to a complete standstill when traffic ahead grinds to a halt. Highway driving assist - which helps keep the car in its lane - and blind spot collision avoidance systems are standard on all bar the cheapest trim level, and the very clever remote parking and parking collision avoidance assist systems come in with the top 4 specification.
Kia is confident enough in the quality of its vehicles to offer a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, transferable to future owners if you don’t intend to keep the car that long.
The previous Kia Niro performed strongly for reliability, and overall the Korean brand is among the top performers in reliability surveys.
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*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.