Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid (2022): obvious improvement

IN SHORT

2nd generation

SUV

Plug-in hybrid

From €38,890

In 2016, when the first generation of the Niro was revealed, Kia’s ambitions for this unprecedented compact SUV seemed very ambitious. It is a question of making it, because of its hybrid, rechargeable hybrid and electric engines, one of the best-selling brands in Europe. In France, the contract has since been fulfilled, combining all the engines, it is the best-selling model of the Korean brand in France in 2021. A success more due to the technological development of its mechanics than all the its objective appearance. For this second opus, the designers started from scratch. Except for the size, everything has changed. Like Kia’s latest creations, such as the EV6 and the Sportage, the Niro 2 features personal lines.

The Niro 2 has forgotten the insipid lines of its predecessor and now expresses its character.

The grille, which extends across the entire front face, is extremely thin. It looks projectors with tortured contours, but which, surprisingly, is the only LED in the high-end Premium finish. When it comes to daytime running lights, it looks like question marks. To express its SUV identity, the bow has a wide opening, blocked by an anthracite 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 exudes aesthetic originality. In profile, it is the C-pillar that, as an option (€400) takes a different color from the body. Seen from the back, we notice the narrow bezel and the boomerang-shaped lights.

In the Premium finish, the instrument cluster is fully digital.
In the Premium finish, the instrument cluster is fully digital.

The same quest for originality prevails in the passenger compartment. Although the dashboard, with two digital screens mounted on top of each other, is reminiscent of the EV6 and Sportage, it is different from anything seen in this category. At least in the Premium version because, if the multimedia touch pad is standard throughout the range (it measures 8 “diagonal in Motion and 10.25” in Active and Premium), only the top of the range has the right to a digital instrument cluster. A surprising choice knowing that we find this equipment in most city cars. We salute all the same in the quality of the materials used on the board and the care taken in the finish, in a very clear improvement compared to the previous Niro.

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

If there is no lack of space for the occupants of the front seats or for those in the back seat, everyone, on the other hand, must learn to travel light. In fact, the traction battery located under the trunk, it only offers 348 l. If every weekend leaving rhymes, for you, with movement, this version shows a fatal flaw. It is true that the new battery is bigger than the first Niro, because its capacity increases from 8.9 to 11.1 kWh. On the other hand, it allows a great autonomy of all electricity. At a slow pace, and despite a test course made up of highways and hilly roads, we reached 60 km without burning a drop of unleaded.

Under the hood, we see the
Under the hood, we see the “old” 1.6 atmosphere 105 hp.
The transmission still relies on a robotic dual-clutch gearbox with 6 gears.
The transmission still relies on a robotic dual-clutch gearbox with 6 gears.

The dual motorization, 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 deep work done in the joint management of these two blocks allows the Niro Plug-in Hybrid to now have 183 hp of combined power, or 42 more than before.

Unfortunately, these extra knights remain more than smart on the road. Revving hard, the settings of the mechanics and the transmission were clearly chosen for their ability to increase the electric range and lower the consumption. At this last point, the goal has been achieved. On a mixed course, we did not exceed an average of 5 l/100 km. Wisely, the riders are also in earshot because, even beyond the speeds allowed by the French road network, the noise level is very low on board.

Unlike lines, mechanics have no character.
Unlike lines, mechanics have no character.

On the other hand, to overtake, there is no other option but to switch to Sport mode. If the Niro then wakes up (a little), it becomes rough (a lot) when changing gears. An attitude that does not suit his vocation. It is better to stay in a rhythm of “good father” and take advantage of the flexibility of the mechanics and the comfort of the damping.

In fact, the suspension effectively removes most road defects, even if it has to compose, as in the case of our test specimen, with 18 “wheels in the Premium finish. We hope that the result will be more successful in the other versions, which are content with 16” rims and therefore benefit from the presence of high sidewall tires (205/60 R16). But gentleness is not always a driver’s friend. Thus, the lack of directional consistency separates the later exaggerated from the bitumen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.