Kia Niro 2 1.6 GDI

Kia Niro, front action
Kia Niro, side static
Kia Niro, 2016, front
Kia Niro, 2016, front, action
Kia Niro, side action
Kia Niro, rear action
Kia Niro, 2016, rear, static
Kia Niro, 2016, boot
Kia Niro, 2016, interior

KIA recently introduced a new crossover into an already crowded market but the Niro does offer an added attraction.

Its conventional looking SUV body conceals some very clever technology in the shape of a hybrid driving system with a petrol engine boosted by an electric motor.

Hybrids are nothing new but Kia has been brave enough to launch the Niro on a new platform which will only be used for electrified vehicles - so a plug-in hybrid version will arrive in a few months.

The Niro is a fairly conservative looking newcomer that is handsome rather than striking five-door package.

The sole power plant is a 104bhp 1.6 petrol engine and a 43hp electric motor combined with a six-speed DCT gearbox.

Like most hybrids the Niro starts in electric only mode and you move off in silence and then the engine comes to life as you increase the speed.

The electric motor then adds more power when you require it or cuts in if you are crawling along in town traffic to improve economy.

It is not a sporty performer with a modest 101mph top speed and a 0-60mph time of 11.1 seconds but it is more than adequate and offers low emissions of 88g/km.

The handling is entirely predictable and the Niro provides a smooth comfortable ride on all surfaces.

Economy is certainly impressive with a claimed combined cycle of 74.3mpg while I averaged over 60mpg without trying.

The cabin offers ample space for five with generous head and legroom and the boot is also big enough to meet the needs of most families.

The dash layout is neat and tidy with a power meter replacing a tachometer and all the controls and instruments were easy to read and use. Everything was well screwed together but some of the surfaces featured too much black plastic for my taste.

A choice of trim levels are available but the Niro 2 is the one that makes most sense and represents good value for money.

Every model boasts features like lane keep assist, hill-start, cruise control, stability control, air-con, alloy wheesl and electric windows and door mirrors, LED daytime running lights, a DAB radio and trip computer.

Grade 2 adds a seven-inch touchscreen, sat nav, reversing camera, Kia's online Connected Services and reversing sensors.

Grade 3 gets bigger 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, front parking sensors, heated front seats and steering wheel, electric adjustable driver's seat and upgraded audio system, larger touchscreen and wireless mobile phone charger.

A flagship First Edition model with even more goodies is available if you feel the desire to splash extra cash.

My only real gripe with the Niro was the foot operated parking brake - a familiar feature in America - but I found it a pain, though I guess you would get used to it over a period of time.

FAST FACTS

Kia Niro 2 1.6 GDI

Price: £22,795

Mechanical: 139bhp, 1,198cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 101mph

0-62mph: 11.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 48

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 88g/km

Bik rating: 15%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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