PHEV 3 1.6 GDi DCT
clock is ticking down fast
to a combustion-free world and while
all-electric cars arent
yet the only
automotive fruit, there are some
PLUG-INS ARE THE FIRST STEP in switching a driver's allegiance from
traditional fossil fuels to über-clean pure electric; more than that they are
an enjoyable way to trade-in the past for the future. Kia already offers the
final stage on the 'green' journey we must all eventually make with their brilliant,
full-electric e-Niro (genuine real-world
range: 282 miles). Not surprisingly they're very much in demand so, if you can't
be asked to wait, the very likeable PHEV makes an admirable substitute.
Looks-wise, the Niro is a contemporary family crossover that's now even sharper
dressed courtesy of a mild facelift that includes new LED daytime running lights
and some fresh alloy wheel designs. The signature 'tiger-nose' upper grille
(blanked off with a distinctively-styled 3D panel) is flanked by swept-back
LED headlights underscored by 'double-arrow' daytime running lights which, together
with black-lined wheelarches and swish alloys give the PHEV an understated but
nonetheless unmissable presence.
beauty of the Niro Plug-in is that it offers you the choice of running on pure-electric
power, either in short bursts or for sustained trips of up to 36 miles; when
you've used up your electric juice (or just want an extra shove of power for
an overtake) then the onboard 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine joins in.
The parallel hybrid drive system is set up alongside a brake energy recovery
system meaning recouped energy is put back into the battery pack every time
you brake or lift-off the throttle.
beauty of the Niro
Plug-in is that it offers
you the choice of running
on pure-electric power,
either in short bursts
or for sustained
trips of up to 36 miles;
your electric juice
(or just want an extra
shove of power for an
overtake) then the
onboard 1.6-litre four-
cylinder petrol engine
While regenerative braking does help replenish the battery pack, if you want
to maximise your electric power usage and minimise your running costs then plugging-in
should take on the same importance in your daily routine as brushing your teeth.
And it's not a problem; in fact it's a doddle to plug-in to a household 3-pin
socket or a dedicated fast-charger in your garage. A full 0% to 100% recharge
can take as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes and then you're good to go for
another 30+ clean, green, all-electric miles that, while not strictly 'free',
will only cost you about a fifth of what it would travelling the same number
of miles using unleaded.
In real-life our Niro PHEV, in pure-electric EV mode, regularly covered 30-odd
miles and still got us back to base with a few in reserve (officially it does
36 pure-electric miles on a full charge). Not that it really matters because
at that point the engine will step up to get you to your destination. So, if
the bulk of your journeys come in at under 36 miles there's no reason why you
shouldn't live on electric power alone and see some awesome consumption figures
the official figure is 201.8mpg!
Forgot to plug in? Don't beat yourself up driven with just 12% remaining
in the battery pack 'our' Niro still came up trumps with 58.6mpg (our best,
and without any attempt to drive super-efficiently, was 67.7mpg which is pretty
amazing given that the Niro whisks you along with all the verve of a non-hybrid
car 0-60mph's a brisk 10.4 seconds with no driving compromises.
In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) mode, with both electric and petrol power on
tap and seamless switching as and when necessary, acceleration is nicely eager
yet still nicely hushed.
pure-electric mode the Niro is as quiet as a mouse and commendably refined.
The default driving mode is Eco; however, for speedy overtaking just flick the
selector lever to the right into Sport (where you can also manually run up and
down the gears at your pleasure by nudging the selector lever north and south).
In Sport mode the Niro truly comes alive, enabling some spirited driving that
won't disturb your passengers' equilibrium; it's also a great choice for pressing
on along country roads.
the Niro is as quiet
as a mouse and
The default driving mode
is Eco; however, for
speedy overtaking just
flick the selector lever
to the right into Sport.
In Sport mode the Niro
truly comes alive,
enabling some spirited
driving that wont
disturb your passengers
equilibrium; its also
a great choice for
pressing on along
The paddle-shifters you'll find on the steering wheel are not, as you might
initially think, for changing gear but for maximising the regenerative boost
to the battery pack whenever your right foot lifts off the accelerator. There
are three intensity grades, each providing an increasingly greater boost to
the battery pack while at the same time generating useful 'engine braking' that
slows the car considerably, especially around town, without your foot ever touching
the 'proper' brake pedal. The six-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox makes
a pleasing partner that can be trusted to do it all for you without any fuss,
and helps makes the Niro PHEV a very tranquil car to drive.
Plug-in convenience and soothing progress aside, the 4.3-metre long Niro (size-wise
it slots between the Ceed hatchback and Sportage SUV) ticks all the boxes as
a spacious family crossover. Choosing your trim level could hardly be easier
thanks to there being just two well-equipped choices: '2' or '3'. Kia's number-based
specifications keep it refreshingly uncomplicated plus you'll never be saddled
with an iffy trim name (anybody remember the Great Wall 'Wingle'?) that you'd
rather not mention down at your local!
The Niro rides that useful bit higher which makes for a more convenient hip-point
and consequently exceptionally easy entry and exit. First impressions are of
a smart interior boosted by soft-touch surfaces, fashionable high-gloss black
finishing and plush leather seats that offer first-rate all-round support. Crucially
there's decent room for five grown-ups. The shapely front seats are particularly
snug (even more so on 100-mile trips) while the driver enjoys additional pampering
with a heated steering wheel plus an 8-way powered seat with lumbar adjustment.
He, or she, also benefits from a good-to-hold multifunction steering wheel and
excellent visibility in all directions (the fist-and-a-half of headroom is also
much appreciated too).
doesn't stint on the comms either, as confirmed by the crystal clear 10.25-inch
touchscreen multimedia system with integrated TomTom SatNav incorporating Kia's
Connected Services (with speed camera alerts, traffic advice, local search,
and weather updates all available). Smartphone users are well served by Apple
CarPlay and Android Auto offering Google Maps navigation, Apple Maps, music
streaming, audiobooks, hands-free calls, text dictation, and voice recognition
smartphone charging is standard-fit; it switches on automatically, displays
the phone's charge status in the instrument cluster, and warns if a mobile is
still on the charging pad as occupants prepare to leave. Two USB ports (one
a fast-charger) are provided, as too is a DAB radio with MP3 compatibility and
six-speakers plus Bluetooth multi-connection (so two mobile devices can be connected
at the same time). Kia's new UVO CONNECT telematics system is also on hand with
additional useful features for instance; you can send route directions
to your Niro before a journey as well as remotely check the car's location.
Niro rides that
useful bit higher which
makes for a more
exceptionally easy entry
First impressions are of
a smart interior boosted
by soft-touch surfaces,
black finishing and
plush leather seats that
offer first-rate support.
Crucially, theres decent
room for five grown-ups.
The shapely front
seats are particularly
snug (even more so
on 100-mile trips)
while the driver enjoys
with a heated steering
wheel plus an 8-way
powered seat with
The 3D navigation is intuitive and easy to use and provides truly foolproof
guidance. Driver information is also plainly and attractively
shown on the instrument panel's TFT multi-mode colour display that links the
two main dials and keeps you informed (but not overwhelmed!) about battery charge
and fuel levels, range, active driving mode, posted speed limit, and your current
road speed in large easy-to-read digital formats.
And while you can press the 'climate' button to display all the active heating
and ventilation settings on the touchscreen, adjustments are made manually using
the hard buttons and switches which is good news (and much safer) when driving.
In-cabin storage is what you'd expect of a family-serving crossover: an accommodating
tray at the base of the centre stack, bottle-holding door bins, a drop-down
overhead holder for your Ray-Ban Aviators, a deep storage box under the front
centre armrest, dual-use siamesed cupholders, and a decent-sized glovebox.
the '3' trim level gets you all the bells and whistles and then some.
The list is extensive and includes black leather upholstery, 3-stage heated
front seats, a heated steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, solar
glazing with privacy glass (rear windows and tailgate), a reversing camera,
front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, electronic parking brake with
autohold, auto-dimming rearview mirror, powerfolding heated door mirrors (on-demand
and automatically on locking and leaving), front and rear electric windows (one-shot
up/down for the driver and passenger), and a smart-looking set of aerodynamically-efficient
Safety kit is comprehensive, with Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist with autonomous
emergency braking (it not only detect cars but also pedestrians and cyclists),
smart adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go and a speed limiter, Electronic
Stability Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Following Assist, Hill-start Assist,
seven airbags including one for the driver's knee, tyre pressure monitoring,
height-adjustable front seatbelts, auto lights and wipes, projection headlights,
LED daytime running lights, LED front fog lights, LED tail lights, and a wide-view
driver's door mirror. And those carrying youngsters will be glad of the Isofix
child seat fittings on the outer rear seats. No surprise, then, that the Niro
has been awarded a full five-star crash-test rating by EuroNCAP.
not hard to see why crossover bodystyles are so popular; not only do the look
good but they are extremely practical. Niro back-seat passengers have absolutely
nothing to complain about thanks to accommodating seats separated by a padded
central armrest with built-in cupholders and a fist of headroom along with restful
backrest angles and generous room for feet, knees and legs even six-footers
will feel at home.
some buyers the
boot can be a deal-
breaker; the Niros easy-
to-access 373-litre boot
is more likely to be
Once the high-lift tailgate
is up, up and away
you can enjoy hassle-free
loading and unloading.
And with the rear
seatbacks down you have
the use of a 1,371-litre
cargo bay with a low
with the armrest folded away, three side-by-side is definitely doable. Deep
windows ensure views are panoramic and interesting while dedicated air vents
and bottle-holding door bins will keep occupants cool and hydrated in the summer
months. And for those oddments we all seem to lug around with us, there are
netted pouches on the front seatbacks.
will be at ease travelling to and from their staycation destinations courtesy
of the restful and well-planted motorway ride served up by the Niro. Around
the houses it feels equally fluent with the well-cushioned seats and comfort-oriented
60-profile 16-inch tyres (205/60 R 16) contributing to the easygoing ride comfort.
In urban environments the all-independent suspension does a competent job of
motoring over the UK's less-than-ideal blacktop.
The Niro also serves up a satisfying driving experience. Easy to place, with
well-managed body control, it feels well-sorted and reassuring whether you're
just pootling or, as you might have call to do from time to time, hustling.
The motor-driven power steering supplies enough heft to keep it honest through
the twisties while making light work of heavy traffic. And the brakes, too,
definitely rate a mention: discs all round and vented at the front, they're
consistently strong and progressive and deliver drama-free stopping.
For some buyers the boot can be a deal-breaker; the Niro's easy-to-access 373-litre
boot is more likely to be a deal-maker. The hybrid battery pack remains out
of sight under the rear seat where it contributes to a low centre of gravity
without compromising luggage space. Once the high-lift tailgate is up, up and
away you can enjoy hassle-free loading and unloading; drop the 60:40-split flat-folding
rear seats and you gain a level-floored, rectangular-shaped cargo bay with a
low lip that will gamely swallow 1,371 litres of cargo. There's also a handy
full-width lidded underfloor locker at the rear bumper-end of the boot plus
a smooth-acting rollerblind load cover.
Kia's plug-in Niro crossover is the perfect shoe-in to cleaner, greener family
motoring before that final step to a full-on EV. As well as being provably planet-friendly,
the practical Niro Plug-in (on your driveway from £30,265) is also a pleasingly
well-rounded family wagon that's generously kitted-out and backed by a seven-year/100,000-mile
warranty. A can't-lose proposition... so what are you waiting for! ~ MotorBar
Kia Niro PHEV '3' 1.6 GDi DCT
Maximum speed: 107mph | 0-60mph: 10.4 seconds | Test Average: 58.6mpg
Power: 139bhp | Torque: 195lb ft | CO2: 31g/km