With electrified motoring increasing at a vast rate, hybrid technology is finding its way into models from almost every manufacturer and Kia is no exception.
Welcome to the latest Kia Niro self-charging hybrid, the first dedicated hybrid from the company, as well as the first hybrid of any description from the Korean maker in the UK, first introduced four years ago.
This new facelifted model features nips and tucks in all the right areas, meaning it look great with its slightly rugged crossover styling. It is set to be incredibly efficient too, with weight saving inside and out, which, when combined with its dual power-source, is sure to make a noticeable difference with running costs.
Priced from £24,900 there are just three trim levels available (‘2’ / ‘3’ / ‘4’), the most expensive of which is as tested and starts from £29,600. The addition of a stunningly rich ‘Ocean Blue’ paint scheme on this test car brings its price to £30,185.
The full range is generously equipped, so even opting for the entry-level specification will fulfil most driver’s needs.
Despite Kia offering a plug-in hybrid, as well as an all-electric version of the Niro, it is this self-charging model that I feel will be most popular due to the fact that few people have the ability to conveniently plug-in at home.
The trim driven and photographed features 18-inch alloy wheels, LED front and rear lights with LED daytime running lights and LED front fog lights, roof rails, rear spoiler, rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors, and rain sensing front wipers.
Subtle changes within the cabin of this latest Niro makes it a lot more user-friendly and nicer to look at, featuring full black leather upholstery with heated steering wheel and heated front electrically adjustable seats, steering wheel mounted paddle shift, high gloss black trim throughout the cabin, dual automatic air conditioning, and plenty of cup holders and storage compartments throughout.
Filling the centre of the dashboard is a 10.25-inch touchscreen which features sat-nav and a reversing camera, as well as DAB radio with MP3 compatibility, USB connectivity, Bluetooth calls with streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as wireless mobile phone charging.
Driver convenience is helped with adaptive smart cruise control, forward collision avoidance assist, lane keep assist system, and lane follow assist, with occupant safety catered for with a plethora of airbags and children can be transported in convenient safety thanks to ISOFIX child seat top tellers and anchor fixings.
Like most self-charging hybrid cars, there is just one engine and gearbox combination available on the Niro. That being a 1.6-litre ‘GDi’ petrol engine combined what’s a 1.56kWh Li-ion polymer battery and motor, giving a combined output of 139bhp.
Paired with a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, 0-60 mph is achieved in 11.1 seconds, with a top speed of 101 mph and a combined return during my two-week stint with this vehicle, of almost 52mpg.
With its weight low down, especially that of its batteries, the Niro is surprisingly agile and somewhat rewarding to drive. It is quite apparent from the outset that this car, despite its SUV styling, was never designed to spend any sort of time off-road.
With no complaints about its gearbox mannerisms, the engine does feel a little strained and becomes noisy when worked hard along meandering country road, or when on the motorway. Around town, doing the school run or shopping, or when not in a rush to go anywhere, this self-charging hybrid is a great package.
Kia offer a staggering 7-year warranty with annual servicing advised every 10,000 miles, or annually (whichever comes first).
Fact File for model tested
Make : Kia
Model : Niro
Trim : Hybrid ‘4’
Engine : Petrol/Battery
Gearbox : 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Cost : £30,185