Kia Niro 1.6 GDI HEV

4

Kia Niro 1.6 GDi ‘4’ Hybrid, face
Kia Niro 1.6 GDi ‘4’ Hybrid
Kia Niro 1.6 GDi ‘4’ Hybrid, side
Kia Niro 1.6 GDi ‘4’ Hybrid, rear
Kia Niro 1.6 GDi ‘4’ Hybrid, boot
Kia Niro 1.6 GDi ‘4’ Hybrid, cabin

KIA has never been short on innovation and clever marketing.

The Korean company made its first big breakthrough in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, hugely benefiting from the scrappage scheme, backed up by its groundbreaking seven-year warranty and a fine range competing with the best from Japan and Europe.

That has continued. Note the use of superstar Robert De Niro to promote sales of, guess what, the updated Niro and to demonstrate that something works in a crisis, the return of the scrappage scheme. The firm is offering £2,500 off a new Niro when you trade in your old car until the end of September 2020.

The new self-charger here sits alongside the plug-in version and fully electric model and offers excellent economy of nearly 60mpg with the entry model and low carbon emissions from 110g/km.

The petrol-electric hybrid combo is mated with six-speed automatic dual-clutch automatic gearbox, so much smoother that the traditional CVT, with combined power output 139bhp.

With energy recovery via braking, the car can run for a short distance on electric only before engine and battery power start working in parallel again.

Now updated, it only seems to have been on the market for five minutes, the crossover/SUV comes with a three-mode grades, 2, 3 and 4.

It is based on an all-new platform exclusively for electrified cars with batteries located under the rear seat for low centre of gravity and compactness.

It is a smart looking car, which Kia says overcomes the design limitations of other dedicated hybrids without sacrificing practicality, versatility and aerodynamic efficiency, which delivers a slippery, fuel-efficient design with a drag co-efficient (Cd) of 0.29, despite the standard roof rails.

Well, they would say that wouldn't they? The truth is that most hybrid vehicles nowadays perform this feat, although maybe not as slippery throught the air, but the Niro does have an attractive road presence.

It features the signature ‘tiger nose' grille, new bumpers at the front and new light design to front and rear. The bumper design is finished with a silver-painted skid plate and incorporates new light reflectors and rear fog lamps in the corners.

The revised interior features high-end soft-touch finish to doors and dash, new gloss black trim with satin chrome highlights.

Central is the new 10.25-inch TFT widescreen for the main display on higher grades, which controls navigation, with European Mapping & Traffic Messaging Channel (TMC), connectivity and eight-speaker sound system plus, on this model, a seven-inch information screen behind the multi-function steering wheel.

Kia's new UVO Connect Service offers Android and Apple connectivity as standard, giving access to navigation, music, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition through those smartphone apps.

This range topper is packed with equipment including parking camera, electric sunroof, leather, powered front seats, a full complement of safety kit.

These include collision avoidance with vehicle, pedestrian and cyclist detection, smart adaptive cruise control and lane assist, blind spot and rear cross traffic warning systems, which makes the sub-£30,000 price tag seem pretty attractive. The entry level model of just under £25,000.

As a crossover, it needs to be practical, and it is with split/folding rear seats, integrated roof rails and various pockets and holders throughout. Boot space is decent despite having the battery to the rear end with easy-to load 373-litre rectangular boot and low loading lip.

On the road, the Niro is a car more designed for comfort and practicality than performance. The power units propel the car to 60mph in a fairly leisurely 11 seconds, via the smooth shifting dual clutch transmission. Switch to the paddles for a bit more fun, but economy is really the watchword with the claimed 54-odd mpg seeming pretty near the mark. However it is an extremely comfortable motorway cruiser.

Despite its relative height, it's a family car that feels well planted and secure on corners with little evidence of body roll, with the softish suspension giving a comfortable ride for occupants.

A fine package all round with good economy, decent styling and a brand name that doesn't deter buyers.

FAST FACTS

Kia Niro 1.6 GDI HEV 4

Price: £29,600

Mechanical: 139bhp 1,580cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via six-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 101mph

0-62mph: 11.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 54.3

Insurance Group: 12

C02 emissions: 120g/km

Bik rating: 29%

Warranty: 7yrs/100,000 miles

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