Performance – The Kia Niro is powered by a hybrid engine, a.k.a. a petrol engine with electric motor assist. The gasoline unit produces 104 BHP of power and 147 Nm of torque while the added boost from the electric motor results in a total output of 140 BHP and 265 Nm, which is quite a lot. The powertrain is very refined and only gets vocal once you push it in the top-end, near its redline but there is no tachometer on offer here. The car runs on pure EV mode at lower speeds and you can’t hear a thing, even when the petrol engine fires up to assist as the speed increases.
The Niro can run in absolute silence in pure EV mode at lower speeds
There is a good amount of punch in the mid-range and due to the hybrid system, fuel economy is a good 30% more than petrol-only vehicles of the same segment. At low speeds, it is solely the electric motor that powers the wheels and the petrol engine kicks in as speeds increase, thereby both electric and petrol motors power the wheels under heavy acceleration while the petrol engine also charges the battery when the juice from the battery depletes. The car also has regenerative braking which charges the battery under deceleration. The whole system works fluidly. The 6-speed gearbox is smooth with shifts, not the fastest but you can manually take control of the cogs using the Sports mode on the gear lever, the car doesn’t get paddle shifters.
Driving Dynamics – The Kia Niro is a heavy car, owing to the battery pack for the hybrid system but it doesn’t feel that way when you drive the vehicle. It feels nimble and agile but the steering offers good feel and feedback, which is surprising. There is body roll but it’s quite well contained and although the Niro isn’t really set up for cornering as the suspension is quite soft, it does offer surefooted handling and is easy to manoeuvre too. Ride quality is good, this Korean crossover doesn’t get rattled by bad roads but up the speed and really bad patches can be felt inside with a thud. The brakes offer surefooted stopping power and the Niro remains stable at high speeds.