Myenergi ad strip - mobile

What Car? Electric Car Awards in association with myenergi

Electric Car Awards 2020: Hybrid small SUV

With electric cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best plug-in hybrid small SUV...

Electric Car Awards - Kia Niro PHEV

WINNER: Hybrid small SUV

Kia Niro PHEV

Best buy 1.6 GDi 3 List price £31,945 Target Price £29,843 Target PCP £340 per month* 0-62mph 10.4sec Top speed 107mph Official economy 201.8mpg Official electric-only range 30 miles CO2 emissions 31g/km

Some families simply pulsate with intelligence. In fact, with every single Kia Niro being electrified in one way or another, you could say the spark of genius runs right through the range.

It’s the fully electric e-Niro that grabs the zero-emissions limelight, but many families might find that the plug-in hybrid Niro meshes with their lifestyle more comfortably. After all, it can provide quiet all-electric running for up to 30 miles on a full charge, yet it also offers the stress-free long-distance cruising ability of a regular petrol car.

Kia Niro PHEV rear

The Niro may not be as glamorous as upmarket plug-in hybrid rivals such as the BMW X1 xDrive25e and Volvo XC40 Recharge T5, but it’s in a league of its own when it comes to ownership costs. For starters, it’s one of the cheapest plug-in hybrids you can buy (particularly among SUVs), significantly undercutting its premium rivals, both as an outright purchase and on a PCP finance scheme. Business users will benefit here, too: the Niro occupies the same lowly 10% benefit-in-kind bracket as the X1 xDrive25e, but its much lower price tag makes the salary sacrifices far more palatable.

You might think that spending far less money means you get far less of a car, but that isn’t the case. In fact, the Niro is a well-rounded choice. It may not be all that exciting to drive, but it’s far from a chore, and few will complain about comfort on urban roads or on the motorway, with only the occasional pothole spoiling the peace. And the transition from electric to petrol power is smoother than it is in the XC40.

2017 Kia Niro PHEV review – price, specs and release date

There isn’t much wrong with the Niro’s interior, either. Those of the X1 and XC40 are more glitzily styled, but the Niro is well built and uses good-quality materials. Equipment isn’t in short supply, either, regardless of which trim level you opt for, and the infotainment system is full-featured and easy to use. There’s plenty of space for a growing family, too.

Overall, the Niro PHEV isn’t quite the world-beater that its fully electric e-Niro sister is, but it does enough, well enough and for a low enough price to be a compelling prospect among plug-in hybrid SUVs.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here