We drove the Kia Niro Hybrid: your smooth and stylish companion…

The second generation Kia Niro is succesfully restyled… Photo was taken here with the “vintage” Fujifilm Finepix 100fs: bought recently for merely 59 Euros…

With the second generation, the Kia Niro has decidedly come of age. It is altogether more stylish, and comes with all possible electrified drivetrain options: you can have it as a straightforward hybrid, like the Niro we tested here for you, or as a PHEV, and of course as a fully fledged EV. We impressed by the smoothness, space, comfort and user friendliness of this “pure” hybrid, which can be very frugal too… just read further.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Indeed, the Niro has gained in style. The C Pillar ends with nicely sculpted rear lights, curved like we see on Volvo’s, with a passage between the bodywork and the lamp cluster, to improve air flow along the side of the car.

Photo taken again with the “vintage” Fujifilm Finepixshowing excellent colour balance.

The C-pillar can also be had in contrasting colours. Also the front end has improved in stance and presence with a wide aluminium coloured rim around the hood and its big lights. The same goes for the interior. A sweeping design, good quality materials give you that premium feeling.

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone … wih heavy correction of colour balance and exposure.

The screen layout is very good, nice to toggle between climate and screen controls to get you swiftly to the commands you want. We like the round control knob to switch between D, N and R, with the P button right on top of it, it’s all very ergonomic and you wouldn’t want it to be otherwise once you are at behind the wheel of this Kia. Many ergonomic solutions and knobs are similar to the flagship EV6, and that’s only to be applauded.

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone

The seats are good, with even a relax mode in the front seats depending on the equipment version you choose. There is plenty of storage, and leg and headroom is also quite decent in the rear. The floor in the rear is completely flat, so even three adults can reasonably sit in comfort. Boot space is excellent with a good 450 liters, and there is a separate tray for sundry like spare wheel equipment etc.

Drivetrain: smoothness and efficiency first…

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone

The hybrid Niro has a 1,6 litre Turbo under the hood, Kia calls it its Smartstream 1.6-litre GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) gasoline engine. It is a 16 valve four cylinder, with a compression ratio of not less than 1:14, with Continuously Variable Intake and exhaust Valve Timing, or abbreviated CVVT. To improve torque and thermal efficiency in the mid rev range it is a long stroke unit, 72 x 97 mm, and you understand immediately that this is not the unit that likes to be trashed hard with corresponding high revs. Surprisingly however, it develops its maximum power of 105 PS @ a rather high 5,700 rpm, and its maximum torque of 147 Nm comes in @ 4,000 rpm.

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone. Not the frugal average consumption of 5 l/100 km.

But its torque curve is relatively flat, so indeed there is plenty of pulling power at low revs. It runs indeed very smoothly at low revs, remember, it runs on low-friction ball bearings(!) The hybrid version has a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor of 32 kW, but more importantly, developing a torque of 170 Nm, and that gives you the pleasant liveliness and delightful “EV feel” at low urban speeds. The Niro Hybrid is paired as standard with the brand’s second-generation six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (6DCT with gears optimized for transmission efficiency, and the removal of the reverse gear that saves a significant 2.3kg). This improves the overall consumption by 0.62%. Reverse drive comes indeed from the electric motor…

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone. When driving very slowly due to urban congestion, the hybrid relies on the electric motor, and shows its worth: merely 2,9 litres/100 km on the driven distance!

The Niro Hybrid shows its smooth qualities when driven with restraint and anticipation; the engine and transmission then behave supersmooth, and the Artifical Intelligence of the power train will choose the optimum balance between engine and battery power, and manages to achieve optimal efficiency, together with more than enough power combined with excellent acoustic comfort. Consumption even in the busiest of urban traffic will remain well below 6 litres/100 km, and that’s what it’s all about when we talk about environment conscious transport.

Photo taken with the Fujifilm Finepix S100fs again…

Of course, higher speeds on Autostradas will take their toll, but driving at the legal maximum speeds on our European motorways will not set you back unduly. Performance is all you could wish for: 0 to 100 km/h in 10,4 seconds, a top speed of 165 km/h, on 16 inch wheels… The manufacturer quotes an average fuel consumption between 4.4 – 4.7 litres/100 km, and CO2 emissions of 100-107 g/km according to the wheel dimension, i.e. 16 and 18 inch respectively. 

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone.

Predictable handling

The Niro uses Kia’s third-generation ‘K’ platform, conceived from the outset to support a mix of electrified powertrains and provide high levels of torsional rigidity. The Kia engineers have tuned the suspension and steering system with an eye to comfort, succeeding in also offering a responsive, confidence-inspiring driving experience.

Photo here taken with the latest “flagship” Samsung S22 smartphone.

State of the art driving aids and connectivity

The usual driving aids are found, like Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), Lane Following Assist (LFA), Highway Driving Assist (HDA), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), High Beam Assist (HBA), Navigation-based Smart Cruise Control-Curve (NSCC-C), Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist (BCA), Rear View Monitor (RVM) and Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA). The Niro’s front view camera and in-built navigation system integrate to display the current speed limit. The Intelligent Speed Limit Assist (ISLA) system will display the current speed limit and automatically change the set speed (after confirmation by the driver) by using the information detected through the front view camera.

Last but not least, a clear 10-inch head-up display (HUD) system projects vital driving information, including speed, ADAS data and navigation indications onto the front windscreen, very readable indeed.

Photo here taken with the Fujifilm Finepix S100fs


The current Niro family is Kia’s third best-seller in Europe. Did you know that of the previous generation, Kia has sold 350,000 Niro models (54% HEV, 15% PHEV and 31% EV). So Kia took utmost car to hone this important car for them to another level. It is also reflected in the prices, but then it offers style and top notch technology. It will prove to be a very pleasant and smooth companion, as we said in the title of this report, when you drive it with respect for the environment and the law… indeed, as hybrid cars are meant to be driven to show their sublime qualities…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Photographers’ notes: we used besides our state of the art Samsung S22 phone also the Fujifilm Finepix S100 fs, which proved a very creditable contender…

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