The second-generation Kia Niro is a far cry from its predecessor with a stylish exterior update worthy to compete with the best in looks amongst its urban-cruising counterparts. While the Niro is available in both hybrid and pure EV powertrains, the vehicle reviewed for this article is the entry-level S variant on hybrid power.
The updated styling on the MY23 Kia Niro Hybrid is seriously eye-catching and bound to turn some heads. It features a full-width, slimline grill flanked by sharp, angular headlights featuring a set of very cool daytime running lights. Some interior finishes in the base model reviewed left a little to be desired, however, this is forgivable with the amount of driver and safety tech included and the surprising amount of space inside this small SUV.
The new Niro Hybrid features two driving modes – Eco and Sport. For daily commuting, we found ourselves sticking to Eco mode that offers a quieter, more comfortable drive. We were impressed with the fuel efficiency exhibited by the Niro Hybrid, which Kia purports to sit at a combined rate of four litres per 100 kilometres. This becomes a little less efficient in Sports mode due to the extra performance being pulled from the petrol engine, however, the extra boost we enjoyed allowed for a sliver of excitement on a few of the sweeping roads around town. For those who like to know the numbers, the Niro comes with a 77kW/144Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder naturally–aspirated petrol engine combined with a transmission-mounted 32kW/265Nm electric motor.
Despite testing the entry-level variant, we were granted a remarkably comprehensive range of Kia’s active safety features. The Advanced Smart Cruise Control system will keep you at a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you regardless of their speed changes while the Intelligent Speed Limit Assist can read road signs to determine the appropriate speed limit and request your confirmation to update your cruising speed. The Lane Following Assist was also quite lively when activated. Not only did it ensure that we remained in our lane but, it also prompted us to stay alert when it couldn’t detect any steering inputs. We found the blindspot monitoring system to be quite responsive, however, this was almost to a fault as it would announce its warnings quite emphatically despite being in a situation where it may not have been necessary. For instance, when we were waiting at a set of traffic lights that had two turning lanes – if we were in the outside lane, the system would assume we were attempting to enter the inside lane and inevitably collide with the vehicles already travelling in this lane. We’re happy to forgive this though, as, in the scheme of things, it’s a non-issue and we believe safety should always be at the forefront of vehicle design. The Niro Hybrid comes with a high-quality reversing camera and rear parking sensors, however you do miss out on front parking sensors on the base model.
Stepping inside the Niro Hybrid, you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that it competes in the compact SUV segment with how spacious it is on the interior. The seats aren’t super fancy but comfortable nonetheless and, if you go with the higher GT-Line variant, you’ll find your seats will be made from eco-friendly bio-synthetic leather made from eucalyptus tree fibres. We reckon the stand-out feature on the seats – and one that your teenage kids will love – are the USB-C charging ports integrated into the rear of the front seats. There is no doubt in our minds that these will experience significant use – especially on longer road trips – as the kids will no longer have to relegate their devices to the dashboard charging port. They can now simply plug them into the seat in front of them and continue using their device from the rear seats as they charge. The space in the rear seats is also comfortably spacious with ample legroom available. The boot space also hasn’t been compromised by this and is large enough for a few decent size suitcases.
The Niro Hybrid’s centre dashboard control panel has been simplified to a single touch panel that controls both climate controls and media controls. However, we like that Kia hasn’t tried to squeeze all the functions on one panel, and rather, let you switch between each control layout at the touch of a button. This has helped tidy up design of the console allowing for a minimal look that more consistently reflects the transition to hybrid/electric power. The digital drive cluster and infotainment screens have been encased in a sweeping element across the dashboard which, in the top-of-the-range model, looks quite stylish in its black gloss material. We can’t say the same for the base model as Kia has opted for a plain grey plastic panel that fails to maintain the seamless look of the sweeping element. We also find ourselves a bit confused by Kia’s decision to relegate the higher spec GT-Line to Wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto when they include the more convenient wireless version of these technologies in the base model S variant. The GT-Line model does however have a wireless charging module which we think is a must-have for any new car these days and would have been great to see on the S variant as well.
Including on-road costs, the entry-level Kia Niro Hybrid S is all yours from Motorama Kia for a cool $48,512.75. For less than $6,000 more, you can get the top-of-the-range Kia Niro Hybrid GT-Line which, in our opinion, is one hundred per cent worth the upgrade considering the included features. The GT-Line comes in at $54,332.25 drive-away however some of the features that we think really make it worth it include the Kia Connect system, integrated satellite navigation, Rain Sensing Wipers, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist, Smart Key & Push Button Start and Heads Up Display. We also love that it includes the nifty Remote Smart Parking Assist that allows you to maneuver the car in and out of a tight parking space while standing outside the car.
If you had your eye on the previous generation of Kia Niro but didn’t pull the trigger, you may be more inclined to do so with its successor. Regardless of the variant you choose, the new Niro Hybrid comes jam-packed with safety and driver assist features while the sleek upgraded exterior means it receives a few extra style points over most of its competition. You’ll find the hybrid efficiency ideal for urban commutes while the spacious interior means passengers won’t be cramped on longer road trips. The Kia Niro Hybrid is sure to please many owners and we foresee a bright future for this car that’s yet to make much of an impact yet in Australia.
Keen for a test drive?
Contact Motorama to book a test drive or drop into your nearest Motorama Kia dealership today.
Keyword: Review: 2022 Kia Niro Hybrid