the form changes, but not the content

Kia Niro HEV will open the catalog with its classic hybrid engine. We had the opportunity to sit behind the wheel in advance.

The previous generation Kia Niro decided to increase the number of electrified engines in order to find a place in an already densely populated segment. It is the hybrid version that was launched earlier than the others and had the most success, with almost 17,500 units sold between 2016 and 2021, compared to 4,000 units less for the e-Niro, which arrived two years later, albeit belatedly.

At a time when all the cursors are placed on the electric car, the Korean brand puts the cover back. Admittedly, the Kia Niro EV will now be the most successful, especially as it arrives at the beginning of the school year. The HEV and PHEV versions will be launched initially. In anticipation of their appearance on the roads, we were able to get behind the wheel of a hybrid Niro in the form of a prototype, very close to the production model.

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And for good reason, since all of his organs were in their place under the hood. Here is the same tandem, consisting of a 1.6-liter GDI gasoline thermoblock with a capacity of 105 hp. Thus, the engineers had a good idea to remove the reverse gear, and entrust the maneuver directly to the electric motor, bypassing an intermediary. This saves 2.3 kg on the scale.

More dynamic chassis

Niro HEV, always on the lookout for improvements, is based on the new K3 platform designed for cars in this segment. It accommodates new chassis-related elements such as a multi-link rear axle while reducing weight. A slimming treatment that allowed teams to integrate new soundproofing.

In use, the changes are noticeable and on a date in Niro peace of mind. And this is especially true when it comes to the 141 hp declared in the technical data sheet. for overtaking or on difficult roads. Always from the same family, the engine is certainly a little rough, but its vocalization is much more muffled. This new vintage introduces the same responder we know with the previous generation, just like the box, always a little lazy to drop a lower gear. In fact, recovery is half mast. Regardless, some will appreciate it more than the Toyota CH-R’s CVT, its natural competitor a few inches shorter.

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Steering wheel in hand, the demeanor also seduces with its more conspicuous and more rigorous dynamism. The steering, which is a bit firmer than usual, may surprise in the city, but on the street it proves to be a good ally. The comfort that the new settings take care of is noticeable. Except at the rear, where the damping was pretty fixed, with a tendency to hit hard at the biggest flex. Single case? Confirmation is required as the Niro EV hasn’t been as dry on the same roads. But it must be said that it was based on 17-inch wheels, and not 18 inches on the HEV.

Smaller battery but same consumption

This version has a 1.32 kWh battery (previously 1.56 kWh) to enable development in electric mode. But the electronic control of the system will be redesigned. On average, you can accelerate to 40 km / h before turning on the internal combustion engine. This should cover most needs in urban centers. On the main boulevards, it will still be possible to briefly return to electricity by dropping the gas pedal.

Energy recovery takes place during the deceleration or engine braking phase. The Kia Niro HEV has paddles behind the steering wheel to adjust deceleration power to four levels, including a freewheel mode. As with the electric model, the car can be stopped by keeping the left lever pressed. It’s fun and economical. But for this you need to pull yourself together and properly integrate the response time of the system.

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On an urban route, representative enough of a congested city, we recorded an average consumption of 3.9 l/100 km. No surprise, as the 1.6-litre engine has already proven itself in terms of efficiency. But we may have to expect a little more in terms of conditions as the soil is quite favorable. Coming out of town to lighten up a bit and put the wheels on the track a bit, we averaged 5.1L/100km at the end of this test. That should allow it to keep a head start on the Toyota CH-R, with which it shares controlled consumption. This is the Japanese brand’s experience in this area with its more advanced system but objectively less audible transmission.

Kia Niro HEV relies on on-board technology

But the Japanese SUV shows the weight of years, especially when compared to the Kia Niro HEV, which is now longer at 4.42m, bringing it closer to the Nissan Qashqai and Peugeot 3008. Like all of its well-known rivals, the Niro benefits from its youthfulness and emphasizes the tall – technological salon, with an abundance of screens: to the digital panel located on the dashboard, a dynamic control panel like Apple’s Touch Bar has also been added.

The finishes inside feel right, although the materials used exude economy. Plastics are hard and dull (usually symptoms of limited life). Upholstery that uses recycled materials is nicer, but the feel is amazing. However, passengers will feel comfortable, especially due to the increased space in the rear. This version has 451 hp. The floor can be placed on two different levels, but the space below is unusable unless you decide to do without a puncture repair kit.

The more charismatic Kia Niro HEV is undergoing a major makeover to take its rightful place in the adventurous compact SUV segment. To do this, he uses several engines to register his name in all categories. In the hybrid department, the mechanical formula hardly changes, but its fuel consumption is still relevant and almost as interesting as the benchmarks in the field.

But above all, changes in terms of space on board and behavior on the road give it a certain form of necessary maturity. Especially since it could once again become one of the most popular models after the Niro EV, which costs 31,790 euros to enter. In the premium version, you’ll have to sign a check for €36,590. With CO2 emissions of 107 g/km (expected value pending final approval), the Niro HEV will not incur any fines in the worst possible configuration.

  • Interesting drinks
  • Improved Behavior
  • Proper Habitability

  • Fragile rear damping
  • Rough engine
  • Any covers

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