What's the used Kia Niro estate like?
Just because a car has a futuristic electrified engine, it doesn’t have to look like something out of science fiction. The Kia Niro is proof of that.
Unlike the Toyota Prius and Hyundai Ioniq – with the latter of which it shares its underpinnings – the Kia Niro looks rather conventional; some might say, in fact, that it’s somewhat dull. However, as a result, it’ll appeal to buyers who want to drive a hybrid or electric car but don’t want something that looks odd.
As with the Ioniq, you get three engines to choose from. There’s a traditional hybrid version, which came out in 2016, and which you don’t charge up yourself; instead, it charges itself while you drive along. The disadvantage is that you can’t use this model on purely electric power; it’ll always find the best balance of electric assist to use with the main, petrol engine.
You get the choice of four versions of this model, although the cheapest ‘1’ was phased out soon after the car’s introduction due to poor sales. The ‘2’ gets sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and a reversing camera; ‘3’ adds leather upholstery, heated seats and a heated steering wheel; while ‘4’ adds Xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control and an electrically adjustable driver’s seat.
Then there’s the plug-in hybrid model, which came out in 2017; this version charges itself too, but not as efficiently. Instead, to get the best out of it, you need to plug it in to charge it up – although, if you do this, you can run it on electric power only for, Kia claims, 38 miles before the petrol motor kicks in, saving yourself petrol money in the meantime. There’s only one version of this model, which gives you leather upholstery, adaptive cruise control, heated front seats and sat-nav as standard.
A pure electric version arrived in 2018, called the e-Niro, and it's fair to say it came as a bit of a breakthrough. It shares all the good features of the regular Niro, in that it's handily sized outside and roomy inside, but it comes with a range that will embarrass many more expensive electric cars. When we tested it under our real range scheme it achieved 253 miles in real-world use, a great figure for a family-sized electric car, and one rivalled only by its slightly smaller cousin, the Hyundai Kona electric.
The other two versions, however, are pretty similar to drive; near-silent when running only on batteries, and still quiet in petrol-electric mode, with engine noise only becoming too strident when you really press on.
Neither of those versions handles in a particularly exciting way, but body lean is well controlled and steering is reasonably crisp and responsive. And while the ride is a little stiff around town – you’ll want to avoid versions with bigger wheels, which exacerbate the problem – it smooths out nicely on the motorway to deliver plenty of long-distance comfort. If anything the all-electric e-Niro handles more confidently and rides better, maybe due to its weight being concentrated further down.
Inside, you’ll find there’s loads of space in both the front and rear seats. The plug-in version has to make do with a shallower boot, as space below the floor is taken up with the battery, but this at least gives it a load lip that’s flush with the boot floor, making it very easy to load heavy boxes.
And while the dashboard isn’t exactly the most stylish in the world, it all feels reasonably classy, with slick, easy-to-use controls and one of the most intuitive touchscreen infotainment systems out there.