Kia Niro SUV (2016 -) Comfort

Review by Gareth Evans on
Last Updated: 10 Aug 2016
3.5
On an all-new platform with a completely new powertrain, this new small hybrid SUV, the Niro, does two important jobs for Kia. Firstly, it gives the company a much-needed rival to the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Nissan Juke and Renault's Captur; and, secondly, with both the hybrid and SUV segments growing strongly (the former, Kia anticipates, at the expense of diesel power) it provides eco-friendly competition for a growing raft of hybrids including Toyota's Prius.

3 out of 5

Comfort

We thought the Niro had a good driving position with reach and rake steering adjustment and comfortable front seats. There’s also great all-round visibility, which should appeal to younger passengers.

Perhaps because there's no switchable EV mode, Kia has gone to inordinate trouble to make the powertrain as quiet as possible, especially under urban driving conditions when the petrol engine stops and starts frequently. This has been managed very successfully, with the engine bay ruthlessly well-insulated from the cabin. You can barely hear the engine start.

However, ride quality is more of an issue. In response to public criticism of other hybrid vehicle driving dynamics in general, the suspension has been tuned to ensure the Niro handles well enough. The downside is that the ride feels a little tough on 18-inch wheels to us, but we'll need to drive this new Kia on UK roads to find out just how rough it is.

Despite this, there’s good high-speed stability on motorways, and practically no noise from under the bonnet unless you really floor it. Normal cruising speeds are accompanied only by wind noise from door mirrors and modest tyre roar.

4 out of 5

Practicality

As you’d expect for a mid-sized SUV, the Niro is a practical car. It has excellent rear-seat accommodation with head and legroom for six-footers in comfort. The 427-litre loadspace is uncluttered by the battery pack beneath and on a par with rivals. You’re able to fold the rear seats down to unlock 1,425 litres of space.

Get a Kia Niro SUV valuation

How does the boot space compare?

455 litres
360 litres
Kia Niro SUV (16 on)
324 litres
287 litres
4 out of 5

Behind the wheel

No surprises here: it’s the standard current-generation Kia dashboard design. Well built, with soft-touch materials everywhere your fingers are likely to wander, and robust plastics elsewhere designed to outlive the seven-year warranty.

It’s good-looking, but not altogether homogenous in execution. In fact the Niro is starting to feel as if the next generation of interior design might be hurried along a little to raise the bar if premium competition is an aspiration.

You’ve got a choice of seven- or eight-inch multimedia systems with sat-nav - which works very well - likely to be an option on all but high-specification trim levels.

A system power meter replaces the rev counter in a clear, easy-to-read instrument binnacle.