Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Review

Caroline drives Kia's new fuel sipping plug-in hybrid!

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
The 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

Caroline reviews the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid.

Kia Ireland has expanded the Niro Hybrid range with the new Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV). The new version of Kia’s low emission crossover has the ability to be driven as an electric vehicle for about 40km and plugged in to recharge the battery. This means Niro buyers can now enjoy making even more savings on running costs.

Under the skin, there’s a simple concept: a 1.6-litre petrol engine with the support of an electric motor. Emissions are just 29g CO2 per 100kms meaning the Niro Plug-In Hybrid qualifies for motor tax of just €170 per year.

I drove the Kia Niro Hybrid in December 2016 when the Niro was a new model for Kia in Ireland. The Niro offers buyers interested in a petrol electric hybrid the package of a very fashionable crossover. The car itself is nicely finished and spacious inside with a higher ride height that is very popular at the moment.

The Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid has a list price of €35,995 that includes the €2,500 VRT reduction. However, a further €5,000 reduction is available as the Niro Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) also qualifies for an SEAI grant.

Kia has done well to soften the blow on price with a vehicle that comes across well with generous space for occupants, lots of equipment and a premium finish to the cabin. There’s one trim level and leather seats come as standard as do heated front seats and steering wheel, dual zone air con, reversing camera, and Apple Car Play/Android Auto. There’s also a host of safety equipment on board including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist and driver attention warning.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
The interior of the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid

Niro Plug-In Hybrid Is An Efficient Family Crossover

The cabin finish is very nice, one of the most premium in the Kia range with lots of soft touch materials. The Plug-in Hybrid is upholstered in grey leather and finished with blue stitching. There’s a two-tone dashboard with a new blue air vent surround. The layout is also good and easy to navigate. There are three individual seats in the rear and the footwells are deep while the middle passenger gets a flat place to put their feet.

However, the boot space is compromised with the larger battery. There is 324 litres but this is down on the 427 litres in the standard Niro hybrid. A flat loading area makes it practical.

The Niro Plug-In Hybrid has 141hp and 265Nm of torque. But even though it can accelerate from 0-to-100 kmh in 10.8 seconds, the throttle pedal never feels particularly lively. The car does encourage you to drive economically and over a week of driving with some driving in electric mode, my consumption was 4.7l/100km, which I rarely see on a trip computer these days.

There is a sport mode which livens up the throttle and is useful for overtaking. Elsewhere, the Niro Plug-In Hybrid is a quiet, relaxing drive. There’s no real dynamic appeal to the car but it takes on corners resolutely enough.

Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid is an efficient family crossover

Intuitive and easy to drive

The Niro Plug-In Hybrid is to be commended for the ease of moving between EV and hybrid modes. The driver information displays on the hybrid system are also some of the best and most intuitive I’ve seen. The central touchscreen will also show you where the nearest EV charging stations are.

I really enjoyed my time with the Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid. It’s a very cleverly packaged hybrid in the desirable shape of a crossover giving it a lot of mainstream appeal. It’s a pity that boot space is a bit below par for a family car but the interior space is still good. The Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid is not cheap to buy but Kia bounces back with a great specification and a well-finished interior. Best of all, the Niro Plug-In Hybrid is properly efficient and with the battery kept topped up real savings can be made on running costs.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid
Price: 
€35,995 (Eligible for further €5000 reduction SEAI grant)
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol with electric motor
Power: 
141hp
Torque: 265Nm
0-100km/h:  
10.8 seconds
Top speed: 172km/h
Claimed Economy: 
1.3/100km
CO2 emissions:  
29g/km
Motor tax: 
€170 per year