Kia is getting very serious about the future of electrical power in all of its vehicles. It offers its small-medium Niro SUV in full electric, plug-in hybrid and basic hybrid format.

Prices range from $65,990 for the full electric Sport all the way down to $39,990 for the basic Hybrid S. We have tested all three in recent weeks, unfortunately Covid19 severely restricted our movements so we will concentrate on the hybrid in this review it’s likely to be the biggest seller.

When things settle down, we may be able to test the others and do full reviews on them.

Kia Niro has a neat shape that works well. There is, of course, the Tiger Nose grille, which in EV format isn’t really a grille, but rather a series of dimples. We aren’t sure we like it, but we’ll leave you to come up with your own thoughts.

The Hybrid and PHEV do have a large grille that melds nicely with the headlights and the openings in the lower bumper.

The sides have full length indentations on the doors, the rear is squared off nicely to maximise load carrying rather than to give a sleek tail. The slim D-pillars make for good sighting when reversing into a parking spot.

Fit and finish is to a high quality and the materials look to be from a car in the next price range up.

There’s good space in the cabin thanks to the squared off shape and good leg and knee room in the front seats. The rear is setup for three but, as is usually the case, the centre seat is best left to a slim person. Three children works fine.

The widescreen digital instrument cluster sits inside a tall binnacle which is very much in the traditional manner – we like that.

Kia Niro Hybrid has a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine and a 64kWh electric motor. It drives the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

All models have seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, radar cruise control, tyre pressure monitors, rear camera and parking sensors.

It has not been rated by ANCAP at this time.

Niro’s suspension is set up for Europe, where it has been on sale for several years. Australian drivers tend to lean in the direction of Europeans rather than Koreans or Americans so it’s likely to suit most drivers here. Tell your car salesman that you want to take it for a decent test drive to see if it fills your needs.

The steering was rather lighter than we like but feedback is good. It turns in well and follows the direction of the bends without any real need for correction.

Braking to charge the battery can be adjusted via the paddle shifters on the steering wheel. We like to put as much energy back into the battery as possible so we let the car do most of the braking. It can’t quite be driven as a one pedal car, but comes close to it.

Ride comfort is good and the car is generally very quiet. Some rough roads (sealed, not dirt) bounce it more than we like, but that’s all part of the endless comfort/handling compromise.

Kia Niro Hybrid is an impressive car at a realistic price. It does its bit to save the planet and we like that. Frankly we would rather buy the Hybrid rather than the Niro full electric as it costs far less – sorry about that planet…


Niro 1.6 S Hybrid: $39,990
Niro 1.6 Sport Hybrid: $43,890
Niro 1.6 S Plug-In Hybrid: $46,590
Niro 1.6 Sport Plug-In Hybrid: $50,490
Niro Electric S: $62,590
Niro Electric Sport: $65,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Kia dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Kia Niro 1.6 Sport Hybrid petrol/electrc five-door wagon)

Capacity: 1.580 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 77 kW @ 5700 rpm
Maximum Torque: 147 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: 91 RON
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 4.4 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 101 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic

Length: 4355 mm
Wheelbase: 2700 mm
Width: 1805 mm
Height: 1545 mm
Turning Circle: 10.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 1444 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 45 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

Seven years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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