- Low running costs
- Lots of standard equipment
- Plenty of passenger space
- Smaller than average boot
- Styling is a little unexciting
- Not as fun to drive as some rivals
The Kia Niro is a family hatchback that gives you SUV-style looks and a roomy interior for front and back-seat occupants, within a fairly compact package. It feels well built and has lots of standard equipment, including an easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system with support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
All Niro models are hybrids or fully electric. The Niro hybrid models give you responsive performance and low emissions, while the e-Niro pure electric model has zero tailpipe emissions and is one of the best-value electric cars around.
Inside, the Niro is quite traditionally designed, but it does feel solidly built. The dashboard is angled towards the driver, which helps you minimise the time you spend distracted from the road ahead when using the large centrally mounted infotainment system. This touchscreen system is intuitive, too, which is an added bonus.
The Niro comes with plenty of standard equipment whichever trim level you go for, including a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control, DAB radio and smartphone integration, and all but the base-level trim has integrated sat nav.
The Niro was updated in 2019 with a slightly redesigned interior. Higher-spec models received a larger 10-inch infotainment screen. Some higher-spec versions also have a digital display in place of the traditional dials.
A wide range of seat and steering wheel adjustment controls make it easy to get comfortable, and there’s enough head and legroom for back seat passengers along with loads of useful storage spaces.
The self-charging (conventional) hybrid version has a 437-litre boot capacity, which is better than you’d get in an ordinary family hatchback, but smaller than you’d find in either the Nissan Qashqai or Skoda Karoq. Owing to where its batteries are placed, the plug-in hybrid version has a smaller 324-litre boot capacity. The fully-electric e-Niro version offers the most, at 451 litres.
The Niro is a comfortable car rather than one which offers a particularly sporty driving experience. But if you’re in the market for a hybrid SUV, then driving fun probably isn’t your top priority. Where the Niro excels is in the smoothness of the driving experience – both plug-in hybrid and self-charging hybrid models switch seamlessly between electric and petrol power, helped along by a smooth and quiet automatic gearbox. This means that even busy urban traffic is a much less stressful experience in a Niro.
Standard-fit parking sensors and a rear-view camera make manoeuvring in tight spaces easier, too.
Plug-in hybrid versions can travel up to 36 miles on smooth and quiet electric power before you need to use the petrol engine. The fully electric e-Niro can manage up to 280 miles on a single charge, depending on which version you choose.
Kia Niros are priced competitively compared with other hybrid SUVs, though conventionally engined rivals such as the Skoda Karoq can be less expensive. However, low emissions for the hybrid mean reasonably low tax costs – and there is no vehicle tax at all for the fully electric e-Niro.
Fuel efficiency should be impressive whichever model you choose. The self-charging hybrid has an official average of nearly 60mpg. The plug-in hybrid version has an official average of over 200mpg, but what you get in the real-world will depend on your driving and charging habits. For the lowest running costs and the least environmental impact, the fully electric e-Niro is the one to pick.
Kia has an excellent reputation for dependability, with the brand ranking in the top 10 in the JD Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study.
There’s a lot of safety kit available, including advanced driver assistance, which features automatic emergency braking. Vehicles fitted with this option were awarded the full five-star rating from the Euro NCAP car safety assessment programme, and all Niro models from 2019 on have this tech as standard.
Best for economy - e-Niro EV
Best for family - 1.6 GDI Hybrid 2
Best for fun - e-Niro EV
You have a choice of self-charging hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure electric power, all of which deliver fuel-efficient motoring. And if you are looking to buy an electric car, then the e-Niro is one of the best, offering comfortable interior space and an impressive 280-mile range.
All versions come with lots of standard equipment, with even the entry-level model benefiting from alloy wheels, a reversing camera and DAB radio. If your budget can stretch to it, there are models with more equipment, such as a larger infotainment screen, keyless entry and an electric sunroof.