KIA have made a name for themselves in recent years, turning the brand into one that is attractive and reliable whilst most recently creating the Niro which is a rather practical and economical crossover.
Coming into the market, the Niro is a little larger than the family hatchback from the Kia stable, the Ceed and this all new model from Kia is expected to be popular due to its usable size and frugal power-train.
This model tested from Kia UK is a ‘Niro 2’ – 1.6GDi putting it as the entry model within the range which goes from ‘Niro 2’ to ‘Niro 4’ adding varying spec, tech and aesthetics along the way.
At a glance the Niro maybe isn’t the most inspiring of designs for me personally.
As with many crossover type vehicles the lower areas of both bumpers, sills and arch mouldings are all finished in a raw black plastic to give it that active outdoors appeal without the signature eco-shape of a hybrid.
Rear privacy glass keeps the rare bit of sunlight we get out of the car as well as keeping any load in the boot out of sight with a roof spoiler adding to the looks of the Niro with its attractive metallic red paintwork on this model.
Alloy wheels on this model are 16” in size and wrapped in Michelin tyre for optimum comfort and grip whilst safety is paramount with automatic rain sensing wipers and automatic headlights with LED daytime running lights.
Comfort and practicality are helped with welcome home lighting, electrically folding side mirrors as well we roof rails which make carrying the likes of bikes or kayak’s very easy with the right accessory from your local Kia dealer.
Inside the boot was surprisingly substantial, surprising to me as the Niro doesn’t look overly large, however is clearly deceptive in its design offering room for all of my camera gear including large bag, flight case and even larger tripod bag.
Inside the Niro is equally spacious with comfort and tech in abundance. The half leather interior is durable and starting in the rear there is a central armrest with two cup holders along with a centrally positioned air vent.
In the front of the cabin, another armrest adds comfort with another two cup holders and plenty of cubby holes for storage with dual climate control keeping each side of the cabin at the right temperature with full electric windows and mirrors adding to the comfort.
The seats themselves were very soft and comfortable yet retained decent support, a blend of characteristics that suits me well whilst one thing I struggled to get used to over my week with the Niro was the foot operated parking brake which removes a ‘hand brake’ or ‘P button’ for electronic activation of the parking brake.
Materials around the dash are durable with gloss black trim around the dash, doors and centre console adding some sophistication alongside the leather steering wheel. Built into the dash is a 7” touch screen which incorporates Bluetooth, DAB Radio, MP3 playback, USB & AUX input along with, on this model Sat Nav.
An auxiliary 4.2” screen is built into the speedometer cluster which mirrors the infotainment to allow ‘split view’ for ease of explanation so you could be monitoring the cars eco data on the main screen whilst following sat nav via the small screen.
Streaming via Bluetooth is possible whilst a super clear reverse camera displays its image on the main screen which even at night time was crystal clear. Within the cluster there is also an eco-gauge in place of a rev counter as well as battery level gauge.
Engine wise the Niro is fitted with a 1.6L petrol engine which produces just over 100bhp and when you take in the power available from the batteries this power figure rises to 140bhp which isn’t too bad at all and similar to the likes of the Hyundai Ioniq.
I found the powertrain suitable for the needs of most owners though the six speed auto ‘box took a little encouragement at times to work in harmony with the engine. The Niro goes reasonably with a 0-60mph in 11.1 seconds with a claimed combined cycle of 74.3mpg.
I found the economy to be shy of 60mpg on my real world test with mixed driving over the period of a week and with annual road tax at zero the Niro is suitably affordable. The Niro absorbed any road I took it along with ease and without drama, things got a little noisy when pushed hard but few owners will ever explore such driving mannerisms.
Adaptive smart cruise control, hill start assist, emergency brake assist and lane keep assist are all present to help drivers with the unexpected and the whole experience of the Niro is one that was comfortable, spacious and without thrills.
Pricing for the base model starts at £23,135 rising to £27,385 for the top model before options and if the pricing and road tax isn’t enough to grab your attention the Niro comes with a 7 year/100k mile warranty.
Words & Photos: Graham Curry
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