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Kia taps into the zeitgeist with an all-new hybrid compact crossover, but conventional models like the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Honda HR-V will take some beating

It’s hard to imagine a car more conspicuously of its time than the all-new Kia Niro.

For a start, it is that most prized family-sized possession: a compact crossover – supposedly as useful as a double-decker pram and three times as covetable.

A crossover packaged as cleverly as this will appeal to those who’ve always found the Prius impractical

And second, it’s got it’s finger on the ecological pulse when it comes to its motive force. Not only is there a hybrid (as tested here), there’s also a plug-in hybrid and an all-electric, the e-Niro (you can read more about that here). It’s basically as voguish and right-on as a soy cashmere jacket.

 

The Niro has been the electrified vanguard for Kia, being its first hybrid model to be available in the UK. Yet since its launch only five years ago it’s been joined by the Soul, Ceed, X-Ceed and Sorento that have variously been made available with hybrid, plug-in and EV power, plus there’s the all-electric EV6 that packs a Porsche Taycan-baiting 577bhp in top GT guise. No surprise when you consider that its parent, the Hyundai Motor Group, has been successfully dabbling in alternative-fuel solutions for well over 20 years.

 

 

It is also not a late-to-the-party adaptation of existing architecture. Instead, the Niro is built on an entirely bespoke platform that allowed it to accept the three different forms of electrified propulsion.

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None of that, of course, necessarily makes the Niro a decent prospect, especially in a segment now so well stocked with conventional alternatives. Still, a light refresh in 2020 has helped keep the Niro in contention, even if it was limited to some subtle changes inside and out.

Prices start at £24,335 for the entry-level 2 self-charging hybrid, which is likely to be favoured by buyers and is the model we test here.

First drives