What is it?
The Kia Niro represents its Korean maker killing two birds with one cleverly chucked stone. The firm’s first dedicated hybrid model (one available only with an electrified powertrain, like a Toyota Prius) is Kia’s first hybrid of any kind offered for sale in the UK, and also a new member of the enduringly popular ‘crossover’ class of compact pseudo-SUVs. That means the Niro has an iron in the roaring fire of not one, but two of Europe’s most lucrative growth areas.
Built on an all-new platform devoted to hybrid and all-electric models, the Niro uses weight-saving aluminium for its bonnet, tailgate and front bumper rail. A lightweight high-voltage lithium-ion battery housed under the back seats shuffles electrical power back and forth from a 43bhp electric motor, the latter assisting a 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine, which drives into a six-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox, and then exclusively to the front wheels.
Kia claims combined peak ‘system’ outputs of 139bhp and 195lb ft for the Niro (the latter something of a fib, since it’s an ‘at-the-wheels’ figure only accessible in first gear). Buy one in either of the bottom of four trim levels – running on 16in alloy wheels and Michelin Energysaver tyres – and it’ll be rated at just 88g/km of CO2 and 74.3mpg.
Opt for either of the more expensive model trims in the Niro range and the car comes instead on 18in alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres, taking the edge off the car’s emissions and economy performance considerably. It’s the top-of-the-range First Edition version that Kia provided for our first UK test.