Kia Niro HEV


By Tim Saunders

As the climate emergency accelerates so too does car design. For me electric hybrids represent the most attractive way of helping the planet – the best of both worlds – without the aggravation. The Kia Niro HEV is one such vehicle, which with its striking design both inside and out, promises to be exciting. My son Henry (7) instantly notices the air vents beside the outside of the rear passenger doors that come out beside the rear lights, next to the boot. We haven’t seen this before and presume it must be a way of creating a more efficient car.

As I open up and sit in the driver’s seat there is a musical welcome, akin to being on a game show. Over time I think this would probably drive me to drink and wonder if there is a way to turn it off but I can’t find one.

The interior is slick and hardwearing with heavy duty plastic on the back seats, which is helpful for families with little children who always rest their tiny feet on the seat backs. The front seats look nicely ergonomically designed and the dashboard is as futuristic as you can get. Occupants feel as if they are sitting back a little, which is unusual but quite welcome, quite a relaxed seating arrangement.

There are a couple of small niggles. The rear parcel shelf is very flimsy, so much so I question how long it is meant to last. And as far as I can tell there is no sat nav. Over the years we have become very reliant on this technology, too much so, I admit but it is useful to have it in a car, giving the driver peace of mind that they are pretty much guaranteed to find wherever their unfamiliar destination might be.

Driving is easy. Insert the key into the ignition, just like a traditional car, no push button nonsense. Select drive on the automatic box and away you go, on EV mode if your right foot isn’t too heavy. The joy of this car is speed coupled with efficiency. If, from a standstill the driver presses the accelerator right down to the floor there is a little delay to begin with and then it zooms into life. And it’s pleasantly quick.

I take it on a spin to Chichester where my wife discovers that the volume control is on the right hand side of the steering wheel, meaning that she cannot turn the sound up on the radio, much to her annoyance. Not to mine, I don’t like the tune she’s listening to! Strangely the cruise control is on the left of the steering wheel, in stark contrast to every other car I drive. So this takes some getting used to. For the price of this vehicle I expect power folding wing mirrors. When I manually push them in I find them as flimsy as that rear parcel shelf.

On another occasion it’s necessary to load it up with hedge cuttings, very carefully, so not to make the interior dirty. The rear seats go down very easily and that flimsy parcel shelf is removed (there’s no way you’d put a parcel on it because it would break). I put a cover down and am then able to get a good number of gardening bags in. It’s necessary to make three journeys to the tip – it’s a large hedge that we’re trimming in a bid to redesign our driveway.

During a drive around the outskirts of Basingstoke I discover that there are in fact two driving modes: eco (with its blue tone on the dash) and sport (with its daring red). Engaging sport mode does see the fuel level decline quicker and the revs increase. It’s certainly more gutsy, which is helpful for overtaking a cyclist on a country lane to Old Basing.

It copes well with my various demands and for me, if the automatic could be replaced with a five or six speed box, I think I’d be reasonably content with this car. It’s large enough for the five of us and the boot is fairly sizeable.

Facts at a glance
Price: From £28,755
Engine: 1.6-litre
Economy: 65mpg approx.
Top speed: 104mph
0 to 60mph: 10.4secs
Power: 139bhp


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