Kia launches compact hybrid SUV for drivers who care about the planet

The Kia Niro: kerbside appeal from an easy-on-the-eye hybrid.
The Kia Niro: kerbside appeal from an easy-on-the-eye hybrid.

By Gerry Murphy

There are mixed messages coming out of Korea with Hyundai going all out creating the Ioniq with three different power systems and sister brand Kia opting for Hybrid only. Clearly Kia has decided to follow the successful route taken by Toyota and are going in one direction only with their newest model, the Kia Niro.

This new compact, hybrid SUV from Kia arrived in Ireland in October and must be taken seriously as one of the first in the segment with Hybrid power. Toyota, the leaders in Hybrid vehicles has followed immediately with the C-HR but, the Kia was first and offers the practicality and kerbside appeal of an easy-on-the-eye crossover, together with the fuel efficiency and low emissions of an advanced hybrid.

This is a completely new car from the Korean car maker and is engineered from the ground up as a dedicated hybrid vehicle. Visually it’s an attractive, modern design that helps the car blend in to its surroundings. The chassis and structural architecture is specifically designed for the hybrid running gear and is a first for the brand.

Under the bonnet, the Niro is driven by a combination of a 1.6-litre GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine, lithium-ion polymer battery pack, 32 kW electric motor and six-speed double-clutch transmission.  This gearbox is a better option than the lazy CVT gearboxes preferred by other manufacturers and is a plus point for the Niro. It is only available in front-wheel drive with no plans for a 4×4 version in the near term.

What gives Hybrid owners that fuzzy feeling is the benefits of these cars to the planet in terms of emissions. The Niro emits just 88 g/km CO2 (combined), and is capable of using just 3.8L/100km of fuel for every 100 km of driving.

As tested over a combination of journeys, I returned a figure of 5.2L/km. The difference here is that the efficiency around town is more attainable than out in the countryside. My journeys were more rural than urban and while that does have a direct effect on the consumption figure, the figure returned is fairly impressive all round.

Prices in Ireland are dictated by the €1,500 VRT rebate that the Government applies to all Hybrid vehicles. That relief brings the official figure of €30,595 down to €29,095 to the customer.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.