The Koreans, for no matter purpose, don’t conform to the automobile trade’s standardised four-year product cycles. So, simply three years after it launched, we discover ourselves sat within the driver’s seat of a refreshed Kia Niro.
Revealed on the Geneva Motor Present within the spring, the Hybrid and Plug-in fashions get all the same old mid-life updates – together with a recent face, tweaked bumpers, and new wheel designs. There’s some new trim inside, in addition to improved inside tech choices, too.
Whereas it’d be a stretch to counsel this automobile is immediately recognisable because the facelifted automobile, the styling is definitely sharper than earlier than. The brand new LED daytime working lights give the Niro a greater outlined signature, whereas the up to date rear mild clusters supply a refined enchancment on the outdated automobile’s plainer design. Its SUV physique continues to present it the sting over the polarising Toyota Prius, too.
It’s inside the place potential consumers will discover the largest variations, nevertheless. The entry-level ‘2’ mannequin will get a run-of-the-mill eight-inch show, however ‘three’ vehicles and above boast a slick new 10.25-inch touchscreen, which sits neatly in the midst of the sprint. With our automobile’s new seven-inch digital instrument cluster, it’s the form of set-up you’d count on in a top-spec BMW, relatively than a sub-£30okay Kia crossover.
All of it works rather well; the central display is obvious and conscious of the contact, and with standard-fit Android and Apple connectivity it’s simple to make use of your smartphone’s features on the transfer. The entire set-up feels superbly built-in, although it’s a disgrace you possibly can’t get the map to show inside the dials – as you would possibly in an Audi or perhaps a Volkswagen.
Total, inside high quality feels strong, with just a few low-cost and scratchy plastics inside simple attain. The equipment listing for our flagship Four-spec take a look at automobile contains every thing from heated and ventilated leather-based seats, to wi-fi telephone charging and an eight-speaker JBL stereo. The belongings you contact most frequently are properly screwed collectively, and visibility is respectable – helped by the standard-fit reversing digicam.
Additionally new on this revised Niro is Kia’s UVO Join Providers. Mimicking many premium producers’ tackle ‘dwell’ related companies, the Niro can now present real-time data on issues just like the visitors and climate. There’s a downloadable smartphone app, too, permitting house owners to verify issues like journey data – and remotely ship vacation spot data to their automobile’s sat-nav.
The three powertrain decisions (hybrid, plug-in and electrical) stay – although as a result of truth the EV solely went on sale late final yr, solely the HEV and PHEV fashions have been tweaked for now.
It’s the usual Hybrid we’re driving right here – although Kia has left every thing beneath the pores and skin nicely alone. Meaning it carries over the earlier automobile’s 1.6-litre petrol engine and electrical motor, which collectively produce 139bhp and 265Nm of torque. The automobile begins in its Eco setting by default; this works wonders for gasoline financial system, however hampers efficiency considerably.
This isn’t a quick automobile, but take issues simple and it’ll sooth and calm down its method as much as the nationwide pace restrict with out fuss. Round city it’s hushed, working for brief distances on electrical energy alone. When the engine does kick in, it’s extra intrusive than the set-up within the newest Toyota Prius – and we desire that automobile’s CVT gearbox, too.
Few consumers will ever care to hustle the Niro down a flexible again street, however those that do will discover it handles neatly and predictably. Once more, the Toyota’s chassis has the sting on this division, however the steering is direct and the brakes progressive – there’s not one of the violent ‘regen’ discovered within the Hybrid mannequin’s e-Niro electrical stablemate.
However arguably the largest purpose you purchase a hybrid is for his or her low emissions and rock-bottom working prices – and whereas the Niro is among the many cleanest SUVs on sale, it may possibly’t come near the penny-pinching Prius. Even the flashiest Toyota emits simply 82g/km of CO2 – inserting it one Profit in Sort tax band decrease than the Kia in top-spec trim.