Kia Niro road test

Posted on December 6th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

A stylish and well-equipped family car with low running costs.

Kia Niro road test

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What is it?
The new Kia Niro is a generously equipped and ultra-efficient five-door, five-seat compact crossover car with petrol-electric hybrid technology. The Niro is priced from £21,295.

How safe is it?

The standard Kia Niro has been awarded four Euro NCAP stars, but as you move up the trim levels additional kit such as autonomous emergency braking is added.

Who should buy one?
The Kia Niro is a family-friendly model that can accommodate five occupants and lots of luggage. With combined economy of up to 74.3mpg it is ideal for owners watching the pennies.

Road test by Maxine Ashford 6 December 2016

 

 

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Kia Niro road test
The Kia Niro is the Korean car maker’s first venture into petrol-electric power in the UK and combines a 1.6-litre 104bhp petrol engine with a 43bhp electric motor driving through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. It is based on an all-new platform which Kia will only use for future electrified models. Size-wise, it sits between the Cee’d hatchback and the Sportage in Kia’s line-up.
We tested out the range-topping First Edition, costing £26,995, and there were no optional extras to bump up the price. The car featured very upmarket grey leather upholstery, heated rear seats, heated and ventilated front seats, and an electric tilting and sliding roof.
The Niro starts up with a subtle chime sound that lets you know it’s ready to drive. This may sound like a strange feature, but you can sit behind the wheel of some hybrids or electric cars wondering whether the power is on or not.
Rather than opting for a sometimes noisy and underwhelming CVT transmission, Kia has fitted the Niro with a six-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission and it certainly seems to deliver a more instant response with sharper bursts of acceleration at your disposal.
The car proved very easy to drive and cruised effortlessly at motorway speeds while also showing itself to be capable when pushed at pace through sweeping country lanes. The steering was nice and precise and there was very little body roll.
We did find the 18-inch wheels fitted to the First Edition model increased the noise levels within the cabin and also caused the car to feel a little floaty at times, but that was our only real criticism.
Another rather clever feature of note is the ‘driver-only’ heating system. When there are no other passengers in the car the heated or cooled air can be directed towards the driver rather than wasted in areas that are empty. It may sound quite simple, but systems like this really do add up when it comes to saving energy.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Kia Niro road test

With its athletic styling the Kia Niro looks every bit the sporty crossover vehicle. The car measures 4,355mm in length, 1,805mm in width and is 1,545mm high, but the all-important factor here is the wheelbase which measures 2,700mm and that means there is ample room for five adults within the car. The rear legroom is good and the raised roofline means the rear seats can accommodate six-footers with ease, too.
The driver benefits from an elevated driving position which results in excellent all-round visibility. Kia has been very clever and has positioned the car’s battery below the rear seats. This means it has no impact on luggage space, which ranges from 427 litres to a whopping 1,425 litres with the rear seats dropped flat.
In addition, there are lots of handy storage options throughout, including a boot under-floor tray, a practically sized glovebox, a deep central bin, cup holders and useful door pockets.

SAFETY
Kia Niro road test

All grades are well equipped with features including seven airbags, but the range-topping First Edition adds blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert, smart cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. These systems are available on lower trim levels via an optional Advanced Driver Assistance Systems pack costing £350. With these systems fitted the Euro NCAP safety rating increases from four to five stars.

EQUIPMENT
Kia Niro road test

There are four trim levels called 1, 2, 3 and First Edition and in true Kia tradition all the kit is included as standard except for the Advanced Driver Assistance pack and metallic paint (both are standard on the First Edition). Even the entry-level grade is well equipped with LED daytime running lights, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, all-round electric windows, lane keep assist, hill-start assist and cruise control with a speed limiter.

COSTS

Kia Niro road test

The entry-level 1 model is priced at £21,295 rising to £26,995 for the top-spec First Edition. Grades 1 and 2 can deliver combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg with carbon dioxide emissions rated at 88g/km, while 3 and First Edition models are rated at 64.2mpg with CO2 emissions at 101g/km. The insurance group for the Niro 3 is 14 but the other trim levels have a lower 12 rating. The Niro comes with a seven-year warranty.

WE SAY
A stylish and well-equipped family car with low running costs.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £26,995 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 11.1 seconds
Economy: 64.2mpg combined
Insurance: Group 12
Tax: Band A(£0)

Figures for the Kia Niro First Edition