Kia Niro Hybrid – the rational choice.

If you were looking for something that is extremely fuel efficient yet impresses on all fronts, look no further than the Kia Niro Hybrid.


If you ask someone on the street what is a Kia Niro, chances are the replies you get are of the same tune as “efficient”, “family car” or maybe even “boring”. And that was something the Niro Hybrid couldn’t escape from, being relegated to the echelon of “NPC” cars.

Until now, that is. Kia has launched a new generation of the Niro Hybrid, and I am confidently going to say that I absolutely adore it. And I’m pretty sure you’ll love it too.

upmarket glow up.

\Gone are the days of “civilian” bland looks and lacklustre curves, as the new Kia Niro Hybrid has gone through puberty and come out the other side with looks that impress.

Kia has really gone to town with the design, and refinements made to the traditional compact SUV stature have resulted in sleeker contours and a future-conscious outlook. Even though it has gone through a radical outfit change, the Niro is still inoffensive to the eye, unlike some rivals on the market.

The front enclave has completely been redesigned, with a new cluster of DRLs and LED headlights that impose the car’s future-focused nature.

This theme continues throughout the car, with an ever-sloping roofline which culminates in tall taillights and a neatly tucked rear.

Add a dash of chrome accents and stylish 16-inch alloy rims, and the Niro Hybrid regularly attracts the gaze of curious onlookers.

out with the old, in with the new.

The Kia Niro Hybrid not only impresses on the outside but also on the inside.

The first thing that immediately catches your attention is just how angular the cabin really is, but it is done so in a way that isn’t brash or disruptive. Jump in the hot seat, and you are greeted by two bright digital displays.

The steering wheel does have quite a number of buttons, but they are easy to get used to and have a nice tactile feel to them.

For all your entertainment needs, a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen is able to wirelessly connect to both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Your device can then be chucked into the wireless charging tray, out of sight and out of mind.

Should you wish to charge your devices via cable, there are a pair of USB ports on hand as well.

The high-end SX variant receives a scroll gear selector instead of a gear shifter, and this really clears up the clutter amongst the centre console.

A cavernous cubby hole can take in a variety of items, and cup holders can slide out at a touch of a button.

Here’s something I really like about the Niro. Your volume and HVAC controls are a combination of physical dials and haptic buttons, and both menus are interchangeable. There isn’t any ridiculous screen menu to furiously press on, and you are able to swap settings with ease.

It isn’t perfect, but it’s one of the better implementations of modern touch-sensitive designs that don’t compromise on use whilst operating while driving.

you want it, you got it.

This particular unit is the no-expense-spared top-of-the-line SX variant, and it has more than enough features to put luxury models to shame.

On the roads, creature comforts such as auto headlights, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, and adaptive cruise control are always a treat to have. The Niro also comes with Kia’s comprehensive safety suite, which includes features like blindspot monitoring, lane keep assist, and driver attention monitor.

Front passengers are also bestowed with electric seats which come with heating and cooling functionality. The cabin is warmed with ambient lighting, or from natural sunlight coming in through the sunroof.

Rear passengers are also treated to rear aircon vents and USB ports fitted into the front seats for charging devices on the go. All seats are wrapped in leather, and rear legroom and headroom are more than sufficient for even tall adults.

An electric tailgate reveals 451 litres of cargo space is plenty for the weekly family shop, and the rear seats can be folded down too for more adventurous furniture trips.

Parking is a breeze in the Niro, with front and rear sensors keeping any obstacles at bay and a crisp rear camera to visualise what you’re backing into.

efficiency is my middle name.

The 1.6-litre Smartstream-G 4-pot works in tandem with an electric motor producing a combined output of 129bhp and 144Nm of torque. That is adequate for a 10.4 seconds century sprint, and the Niro can be pushed to 165km/h at full chat.

Of course, the Niro wouldn’t be winning traffic light drag races any time soon, but that’s not the main selling point of this car. Where the Niro really impresses, is just how efficient it is. 42-litres for a fuel tank doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is enough to give the Niro an average range of 780km, and that is with mixed traffic start/stop driving. Be gentle with the pedal, and the Niro can attain closer to 4 digits of range, which is mighty impressive.

With less-than-ideal pedal discipline, I still managed to garner an average of 19.7km/litre while testing. With more self-control, this number can easily hover around the mid-20s region. All in all, you won’t be seeing petrol stations that frequently any more when you ride with this puppy.

The engine is switched off as often as it can, and the Niro runs on full EV power while cruising or coasting. Should you need to coax more power to the wheels, the engine silently clicks back into life without any hindrance or noticeable vibrations. This system is practically flawless, and I am nothing short of impressed at just how smooth the transition is.

You do get pedal shifters in the Niro, and this is the first time I’ve encountered pedals which serve different functions. In Eco mode, the pedals are there to adjust the strength of energy regeneration, depending on your driving comfort. Switch it into Sport, and the pedals are now used to select the 6 gears in the car’s automatic DCT. Yes, this car indeed has a DCT gearbox. This is one of many design traits which I find brilliant in the Niro.

With its soft suspension set up for ride comfort, the Niro does rock around a little when pushed into corners. Even in its Sport mode, the stiffer steering doesn’t induce as much confidence to take bends at speed. But, this shouldn’t put down the Niro’s high points, and as long as you aren’t reckless with it, the Niro is brilliant on the roads.

an outstanding candidate.

What more can I say, other than the Kia Niro Hybrid is brilliant, and it breaks the norm that hybrid cars cannot be exciting to drive.

It’s a car that your university-going child that just got his/her can drive to school without any hesitation, due to its simple and easy-to-operate nature. At the same time, you can ferry around your co-workers and have them seriously impressed.

It can be a little on the steeper side in terms of pricing, with the price hovering at $174,999 at the time of writing. But, if you’re looking for a hybrid car that guarantees smiles per gallon, there is no better place to look.


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Sean Loo

Ignition Labs' resident editor loves all things retro, even though he was born in the late 90s. His main job encompasses tons of driving (and a massive carbon footprint), but he swears he turns off the lights each time he leaves his room.

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