Sat. Jan 28th, 2023

IT must be hard for car manufacturers
when they come to replace a successful
model. Admittedly, Kia’s first-generation
Niro wasn’t exactly the biggest-selling
vehicle in the world, yet it had its dedicated
followers, drawn in by the wide choice of
powertrains – hybrid, plug-in hybrid and
pure electric – offered across the range.
But as the miles pile on in our Niro Hybrid,
I keep catching sight of the Korean car on
my drive or in car parks and filling stations,
and noting what an effective job Kia did of
evolving such a solid formula. It’s a larger
car than before, with a longer wheelbase
that helps to deliver improved cabin space,
and yet I think a lot of how it seems to have
grown up is down to the styling details
more than the overall increase in scale.
The car’s profile is basically the same as
the old model’s, and the Niro’s sharp edges
mean it still feels compact when you’re
parking it. But the totally different front end
and those narrow tail-lights, angled over the
rear corners, give it a more planted look and,
I would argue, a bit more premium appeal.
The raised ‘blade’ C-pillar, which sits
proud of the rest of the bodyshell, is another
element that becomes apparent to you
when you get closer to the car – the sort of
thing that lifts any model beyond the norm.
The Kia crossover is still doing a good job
of transferring that grown-up appeal to the
on-road experience. I’m a frequent user of
motorways because they’re just the easiest,
quickest way to get between the various
photoshoots that Auto Express needs.
In this respect, the hybrid version of the
latest Niro is the perfect choice; I wouldn’t
get enough of a benefit from the plug-in
hybrid model, given the high mileages of
my average journeys, and a Niro EV would
spend far too much of its time at public
charging stations for my liking.
The hybrid, on the other hand, feels
entirely at home at motorway speeds – it’s
a good example of how an electrified boost
can really help what is a modest petrol
engine. It never seems to struggle to keep
up with fast-moving traffic, even with a
“It never seems to struggle to keep up with
fast-moving traffic, even with a full boot”
Running costs
46.6mpg (test)
£69 fill-up
Boot (seats up/down)
451/1,445 litres
boot full of camera kit, cleaning gear and
often a hefty container of water for washing
cars when photographing them on location.
Efficiency has dropped a little bit in the
colder weather, but I’m still seeing north of
45mpg from a car that I don’t have to plug
in – and that figure creeps back up with
reassuring haste the moment I leave the
M1, M25 or M4 and switch to urban roads.
It’s not perfect, however. The recent cold
snap has exposed how the Niro can struggle
a little in low-grip situations. It’s still keen
to use its electric motor where possible –
which helps it to maintain as much of that
efficiency as possible, not a given for many
a hybrid in cold weather – but the instant
torque delivery of this unit can catch out
the front tyres on an icy surface.
A switch to winter rubber from what is
undoubtedly a set of eco-focused summer
tyres would help improve grip and traction
on slippery winter roads.

By admin

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