The Kia Niro looks upmarket and classy. With it’s 18″ alloy wheels, roof rails, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass and the subtle additions of chrome door handles and beltline mouldings. Overall, the effect is quite stunning, especially in the Ocean Blue (metallic) of the ‘First Edition’ on test. And it’s not just styling for the purpose of looking good as the Niro packs a lot of technology into it’s design which allows it to deliver an impressive drag coefficient of just 0.29.
Technology is abundant throughout the cabin and increases exponentially depending on which model of Niro you chose, yet even the base Niro ‘1’ is generously equipped, however the Niro ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’ have an 8″ touchscreen with satellite navigation, a stunning 8-speaker JBL® premium sound system, subwoofer and external amp, a heated steering wheel however, it’s the ‘First Edition’ that also adds heated/ventilated front seats that are also electrically adjustable, stainless steel door scuff plates, engine Start/Stop Button with smart entry system and even heated outer rear seats. But the Niro has another ace up it’s sleeve with its excellent adaptive smart cruise control function, autonomous emergency braking and blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert. For the driver and passengers this is a fantastic place to spend time as it’s comfortable, well put together and the technology within is accessible and simple to use. Just as it should be.
But the Kia Niro’s reputation will surely depend solely on the ability of it’s hybrid power plant. Consisting of their new Kappa 1.6 GDi engine which produces a maximum output of 104bhp at 5,700rpm and a peak torque of 108 ft/lb at 4,000rpm, the perfect match for the Niro’s hybrid system. The system offers a combined maximum output of 139bhp with the Niro’s Permanent magnet electric motor providing up to 43bhp on its own whilst the electric motor also assists the petrol engine in hybrid mode and recharges the battery during deceleration. Mix all of this up to date hybrid technology with an all new automatic 6-speed DCT Dual Clutch Transmission gearbox which, Kia say, transfers engine/ motor power efficiently, and delivers dynamic acceleration and a smoother transmission and you have an extremely capable power train that propels the Niro along very efficiently. This is clearly not a sports car but the Kia still responds well to a heavier foot, changing gear swiftly and allowing the two motors, both petrol and electric, to combine and provide enough acceleration to overtake when necessary.
And maximising mpg is what this excellent crossover is all about and you soon find yourself driving to the Niro’s strengths, setting off gently to delay the petrol engine cutting in, lifting off the throttle when cruising on the straights or using gravity to help when going downhill. The technique is to simply reduce input to the throttle at all times, using full acceleration only when necessary and planning ahead as you drive, anticipating potential issues on the route ahead so that you can avoid sudden braking or power. Smoothness really does reward you with quite superior mpg.
Overall, this is a very special car, it has excellent build quality, a high specification and potentially up to a claimed 74.3 MPG, more than achievable as during my week with the Niro it was regularly showing 57-62mpg with no real effort being put into maximising the Niro’s potential. With Kia’s usual 7 Years / 100,000 miles warranty showing how much faith Kia have put into this relatively new technology and potential CO2 emissions of 88g/kg this, I very much believe, is the technology of the future available today.
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