Mid-life refresh adds style and technology to Kia's crossover SUV, while retaining the benefits (and pitfalls) of a plug-in powertrain

What is it?

This is the mildly facelifted but very on-topic version of the decent Kia Niro PHEV.

For the former, think mild styling updates inside and out and more impressive headlights - all delivered in short order after the original and already very capable Niro PHEV was launched.

For the latter, consider the growing imperative for manufacturers and motorists to lower their emissions, and the potentially huge environmental and economic benefits on offer from being powered by electricity.

2 Kia niro phev 2020 uk fd hero side

What's it like?

The Niro PHEV offers the upsides of being able to run up to 36 miles on electric power alone, enjoying a potentially huge uptick on running costs as well as the delicious silence and compelling confidence of the instant torque from the electric motor.

The official economy figures you see at the bottom of this review are fairly meaningless, because a PHEV is as efficient as the distances you drive. Living and mainly commuting short distances around a big town I could nigh-on live on electric power and record some mildly ridiculous economy figures. Life as a long-range sales rep seeking would be harder, as you’d need a lot of plug sockets and meeting times to keep the economy the right side of what a simple hybrid could achieve.

On the flip side you have that higher purchase cost (£31,945 here - £4500 more than the Toyota Prius-esque hybrid Niro), 49 litres less boot space (thank you batteries) and - alas - a slightly gruff 1.6-litre engine disturbing your karma when it kicks in.

Beyond the powertrain, the Niro is a decent if uninspiring steer wrapped in a supremely practical body. Passengers have little to complain about either, with the interior both compellingly smart and laden with all the kit you could likely wish for.

9 Kia niro phev 2020 uk fd cabin

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Should I buy one?

Maybe, because this facelifted Niro adds a small amount of lustre to what has always been a well-rounded offering: this is a potentially hugely economical  powertrain in a well-sorted car, laden with kit and backed by a seven-year warranty.

But if your decision is financially driven, as is likely, you do need to consult a calculator, because you’ll have to cover a lot of miles or enjoy a lot of lower VED or company car bills to truly extract value from choosing the PHEV over the hybrid.

Alternatively, if your motives are altogether greener or company car tax focused then you might also want to consider the excellent all-electric Kia e-Niro instead, available with a 280-ish mile real world range and epically low running costs for a further £5k.

Even if you do conclude it is for you, then you must consider the opposition, not least the Skoda Superb PHEV, which starts from £31,970. 

How car makers must rue the loss of the plug-in hybrid grant, which swung the cost-benefit equation rather more in their - and consumers’ - favour.

Kia Niro 1.6 GDi PHEV 6-speed DCT specification

Where Middlesex, UK Price £31,945 On sale now Engine 4 cyls, 1580cc, petrol, plus electric motor Power 139bhp at 5700rpm Torque 195lb ft Gearbox DCT automatic Kerb weight 1149kg Top speed 107mph 0-62mph 10.4sec Fuel economy 201.8mpg CO2 29g/km Rivals Hyundai Ioniq PHEV, Skoda Superb PHEV

22 Kia niro phev 2020 uk fd cornering front

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The Apprentice 10 January 2020

Autocar needs to understand

Autocar needs to understand the company car tax system this car is intended for. For 'oerk' drivers offered either a cash car allowance or a company car, HMRC are able to tax the allowance funded car like a company car on emissions instead of just as extra earnings. There is an exception clause for a ULEV compliant company car. So low mileage perk drivers can have a decent size company car without the tax hit. The scenario is a bit more complex than that, but plenty of our staff have opted for these as it suits the peculiar UK tax rules really well at the moment.
xxxx 10 January 2020


Ideal sized car for me but it's only available with either in either mild in PHEV hybrid versions, expensive and slow for a £32k Korean car, with no chance of clawing the money back if you're a private buyer.

Needs a pure 1.6t for £5k less, Skoda can do it!