Test – Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid (2022): Striking progress

IN SUMMARY

2nd generation

SUV

plug-in hybrid

From €38,890

When the first generation of the Niro was presented in 2016, Kia’s ambitions for this unprecedented compact SUV seemed very ambitious. It’s about making it one of the brand’s best-sellers in Europe, with its hybrid, chargeable hybrid and electric engines. In France, the order was fulfilled as, all engines combined, it is the Korean brand’s best-selling model in France in 2021. A success that is due more to the technological advances of its mechanics than to its universal optics. For this second work, the designers started from scratch. Aside from the size, everything changes. Like Kia’s latest creations, like the EV6 and the Sportage, the Niro 2 displays very personal lines.

The Niro 2 forgets the unattractive lines of its predecessor and now asserts its character.
The Niro 2 forgets the unattractive lines of its predecessor and now asserts its character.

The grille that spans the entire front is extremely thin. It overlooks projectors with tortured contours, which, oddly enough, only come with LEDs in the high-end premium version. The daytime running lights look like question marks. To underline its SUV identity, the front also has a wide opening blocked with an anthracite-colored plastic element.

The new Kia logo sits proudly on the hood
The new Kia logo sits proudly on the hood

From every angle, the Niro demonstrates aesthetic originality. In profile, it is the C-pillar, which, if desired (400 euros), can have a different color than the body. When viewed from behind, we notice the narrow frame and boomerang-shaped lights.

In the premium version, the instrument cluster is fully digital.
In the premium version, the instrument cluster is fully digital.

The same quest for originality prevails in the passenger compartment. While the dashboard is reminiscent of the EV6 and Sportage, with its two digital screens glued together, it’s different from anything found in this category. At least on the Premium version, because if the multimedia touchpad is standard on the entire range (it measures 8 “diagonally on the Motion and 10.25” on the Active and Premium), only the top of the range is entitled to a digital instrument cluster . A strange choice, considering we now find this equipment in most city cars. However, we applaud the quality of the materials used on board and the care taken in the finishing, which is a very clear step forward compared to the previous Niro.

At 348 liters, the boot of the Niro Plug-in Hybrid is less spacious than that of a Renault Clio.
At 348 liters, the boot of the Niro Plug-in Hybrid is less spacious than that of a Renault Clio.

On the other hand, if there is no shortage of space for either the front or rear seat occupants, everyone must learn to travel light. Since the traction battery is located under the trunk, it only offers 348 l. If every weekend departure rhymes with moving for you, this version has a fatal error. The new battery is significantly larger than that of the first Niro, as its capacity has increased from 8.9 to 11.1 kWh. On the other hand, it allows extensive purely electric autonomy. At a leisurely pace and despite a test route of freeways and hilly roads, we were able to cover 60 km without burning a single drop of unleaded.

Under the hood we find them
Under the hood we find the “old” 1.6 atmospheric 105 hp.
The gearbox continues to be entrusted to a 6-speed robotic dual-clutch gearbox.
The gearbox continues to be entrusted to a 6-speed robotic dual-clutch gearbox.

The dual engine, on the other hand, is carried over from the previous generation. It still uses the 105 hp 1.6 GDI and an electric motor whose power increases slightly from 60 to 62 hp. But the thorough work done on managing these two blocks together allows the Niro Plug-in Hybrid to now have a combined power output of 183 hp, or 42 more than before.

Unfortunately, this additional cavalry remains more than inconspicuous on the way. Revving up is tedious, the settings of the mechanics and the gearbox are obviously chosen in such a way that they increase the electric range and reduce consumption. In this last point the goal was achieved. On a mixed route we never exceeded the average of 5 l/100 km. The cavalry is also discreet in the ear, since the noise level on board is very low, even beyond the speeds permitted on the French road network.

Unlike the lines, the mechanics lack character.
Unlike the lines, the mechanics lack character.

For overtaking, on the other hand, there will be no other option than switching to sport mode. If the Niro then (a little) wakes up, it gets (strongly) rough when shifting. A character that doesn’t fit his calling. Better stick to the rhythm of the “good father” and use the flexibility of the mechanics and the comfort of the cushioning.

In fact, the suspension effectively erases most of the road’s imperfections, even when, as in the case of our test specimen, it has to compose with the 18-inch wheels of the premium version. We bet that the result is even more successful than the other versions, which are content with 16″ rims and therefore benefit from high sidewall tires (205/60 R16). But softness isn’t always the driver’s friend. Thus, the lack of constancy of direction overly isolates the latter from the bitumen.

Kaddouri Ismail

I am Ismail from Morocco, I work as a blogger and online marketer. I am also the founder of the “Mofid” site, in which I constantly publish many important articles in the field of technology, taking advantage of more than 5 years of experience working in the field. I focus on publishing in a group of areas, the most important of which are programming, e-marketing, digital currencies and freelance work.

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