First driving: new Kia Niro Hybrid HEV

The gestation of the new Korean crossover is in its final stretch. The model we are entrusted with is certainly equipped with a camouflage-style rear bumper, but thethe style of the car, of course, is stopped. So close to marketing and increased production, no manufacturer can afford major aesthetic changes.

Inside, the sticker “prototype”, however, reminds us things can still change, such as the plastic door liner or the roof liner used in this pre-production example. But what can evolve the most is what can’t be seen: power management software, power steering calibration, or even the GPS that put us at sea in our test sample. This is precisely the reason for these cars “close to production”, the use of which allows to identify the latest improvements to be made before entering the bottom of marketing.

Electrification or nothing

The second generation of the Kia Niro continues to cultivate the particularity of the model. Like in 2016, when the Niro I was launched, the Korean manufacturer did not bother with a diesel device or even a soft hybrid device. The Niro 2022, now available with a contrasting body insert, features three electrified technologies under its hood: the “standard” hybrid of our test, a plug-in hybrid version capable of traveling 65 km in zero emissions, and a final 100% electric approved with 460 km of combined cycle range. (and more than 600 km in the urban cycle). All three are now available to order, starting at € 31,790 for the hybrid and € 36,590 for our high-end Premium version.

The model doesn’t really change proportion, but it grows a little: 6 cm longer (4.42 m).2 cm wider (1.83 m) by a height equivalent (1.55 m) to the current model. Its wheelbase only gains two centimeters and is therefore the interior design to which we owe the increase in habitability that Kia claims. We were able to check this improved facility not only in the front but also in the back, where access to the bench is easier. As always, we will be better seated in the side seatswhile the center seat is harder, less wide and “decorated” with a medium-height service tunnel.

This version HEV offers a 451 liter trunk (compared to the 436-liter previous generation), but also a two-position floor that allows for a flat space when the backrests of the rear seats are folded down. In this case, we are approaching 1,450 liters of cargo volume, which is within the average of the segment.

More technology

Inside, the dashboard picks up the principle of the 10.25-inch dual screen that appeared on the EV6, which was later installed aboard the new Sportage earlier this year. But the fit here takes on a rounded shape at its top edge, which means the center screen is slightly lower than the instrument panel. If the Sportage has a more muscular hybrid version (180 hp), the Niro has carried the hook of the previous generation. The car is shown equal power (141 hp) using a 105 hp 1.6 atmospheric engine and a 43 hp electric unit. Technical improvements have been made, but the level of performance or consumption remains the same.

Among the novelties, it should be noted that the reverse gear is now provided by the electric motor. This choice made it possible to dispense with a gearbox gear (-2.3 kg), and therefore invariably return to zero emissions. The battery of the hybrid system has a slightly lower capacity (1.32 kWh compared to 1.56 kWh), but the efficiency of the model remains the same. This means that energy management software, and certainly regeneration laws, allow you to do the same or better in terms of consumption and that with fewer cells.

A nicer walk

The handling of the new Niro is quite natural. When you press the Start button, nothing happens and this is normal. The boot is always electric. The knob that controls the gearbox is intriguing, but it quickly demonstrates its practicality. The first meters are just sweetness and serenity, until the 1.6 engine appears. Fortunately, the Niro has advanced in soundproofing. The thermal block is less penetrating and less vibrating.

In traffic, the electrical part takes control as often as possible and the regeneration blades, located on each side of the steering wheel, invite you to drive differently. They allow you to adjust the engine brake according to four levels, or even to activate maximum regeneration by pulling the blade towards you for a long time. It works until it stops, then returns to the selected mode when the palette is released. In most cases, this avoids using the brakes. Strong regeneration allows you to recharge the battery of the hybrid system, but also save disks and pads while limiting the emission of particles linked to braking. Not bad.

The new Niro also demonstrates progress in handling. The current generation was already looking for dynamism, but the new platform adds a sweetness that could sometimes be lacking. 18-inch wheels are not the best ally of the chassis, but at low speeds, the ascents to the cab are less dry.

Winding routes are tackled with more precision and comfort, but the hybrid Niro is not yet a fan of steep climbs. Its naturally aspirated engine sometimes has no pep, and the six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, stay too long in gear, especially if the hybrid system battery is depleted. Then we will appreciate the Niro more in urban areas than in the mountains. On the road or on the highway, it also gains in homologation with a lot of driving aids.

Our verdict

Kia is significantly improving the key qualities of its Niro, which advances in all areas of the game, betting on modernity, with a new design and a 100% digital interior, hopes to have the same success of the current generation, third sale. of the brand worldwide, and first in France in 2021.

We love :

Advances made along the way

Its digital interior

Its warranty of 7 years or 150,000 km

We like it less:

The placid nature of its mechanics

Optional two-tone body

The inevitable rise in prices

Fact sheet: Kia Niro HEV

Engine: front, 4 inline cylinders, petrol, 16 valves, variable distribution, 1,580 cc, 105 hp / 147 Nm + electric motor (32 kW / 170 Nm) Transmission: front-wheel drive, 6-speed automatic (double clutch)

Cumulative power (hp): 141

Operating weight (kg): 1,565

Length. (m): 4.42 × 1.83 × 1.55

Wheelbase (m): 2.72

Turning day (m): 10.40

Deposit (l): 40

Maximum speed (km / h): 165

0 to 100 km / h (s): 10.6

Standard tires: 205x60R16 (in Motion and Active) 225x45R18 in Premium

Tested tires: Continental Premium Contact 225x45R18

Cons. Mixed WLTP (l / 100 km): 4.4 to 4.6

Cons. during the test (l / 100 km): 5.5 1

CO2 (g / km): 100 to 105

Penalty: € 0

5/2 pit (l): 451 / 1,445

Country of manufacture: South Korea

Warranty: 7 years / 150,000 km

Price of the tested version: € 36,590

PROPOSED RANGE (Kia Niro)

Gasoline hybrid, 141 hp, from € 31,790 to € 36,590

RECOMMENDED OPTIONS

Metallic or pearlescent paint: € 650 and € 750. Contrasting back amount: € 400; Stereo Harman Kardon: € 500; comfort package (Active only): € 1,000 (includes electrically adjustable driver’s seat, inductive smartphone charger and electric tailgate); Drive Wise Park package (Premium only): € 1,000 (includes remote parking assistance, safety warning at the exit of the vehicle, collision avoidance system with blind spot detection and rear-facing traffic alert with braking function).

MAIN COMPETITORS

Toyota C-HR, 122 hp hybrid, from € 30,840

Nissan Qashqai, mild hybrid of 140 hp, from € 30,190

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