When the first Kia Niro landed in 2016, few prophesied that this SUV equipped only with “green” engines would become Kia’s best-selling car in France five years later. This is the case though and this puts a lot of pressure on its replacement, which comes first in a classic and rechargeable hybrid version, a few weeks before the electric Kia e-Nero. To meet the challenge, Kia decided to modernize its bestseller without touching its fundamentals. This shows how the nose in the center of the figure and the Niro “2” look like high-line tech compared to its wise predecessor. Especially with the contrasting rear pillar, moreover, even if Kia prefers to leave it optional (400 €), sometimes customers do not adhere to this coquetry.

An air of EV6 aboard the new hybrid Kia Niro

The mouse is identical on board, where the agreed layout is followed by an environment largely inspired by the Car of the Year 2022, in other words 100% electric EV6. Everything is in step with the times, legible and easy to understand. Although we would appreciate that the steering wheel depth adjustment offers more amplitude. What if the Niro takes up the idea of ​​the bar that displays, at will, the air conditioning controls or access to the menus (radio, nav, etc.)you have to get used to it because even the knob on the bar changes functions: it happened to me several times to raise the temperature when I wanted to increase the sound of the radio! However, between the responsive screen, with fairly intuitive menus, well-thought-out storage, and reassuring production, this SUV ticks many boxes of a good family SUV. Especially since to lengthen by 6 cm, or 4.42 m in total, of which 2 cm for the wheelbase (2.72 m), the Korean promises to be even more spacious than before. We will check it out soon. Meanwhile, there is plenty of room to stretch the legs on the rear seats without Kia reducing the (very correct) seat length of the bench seat. Less admirers, however, of the decisive consistency of the rear upholstery, not to mention the central seat, dedicated to short trips. Finally, on the side of the boot, the flow rate goes from 427 to 451 dm³ and there is a raised platform.

We are well installed in the rear of the new Kia Niro. One small regret, the rather stiff seat.© Kia

Let’s not change a winning formula

Very different in form, the Niro “2022” is more conservative in substance. If it is based on a new platform, its three variations show characteristics close to what we already knew. In particular, in this hybrid variant, which still combines a 105 bhp 1.6 GDi petrol engine and a 44 bhp electric motor, via an automatic gearbox. double clutch, electricity is provided by a small battery of 1.32 kWh. Nothing great on paper, but Kia justifies this conservatism with the desire to keep prices competitive. However, the engineers didn’t twist their thumbs and tweaked everything that could be: the four-cylinder benefits from higher injection pressure and the automatic transmission is lighter, taking advantage, in particular, of the fact that reverse gear is now provided by the electric motor.

Comfort before dynamism

If driving must rhyme with dynamism for you, then go ahead, the new Kia Niro is not for you.  If it's the sweetness you're looking for, though ...
If driving must rhyme with dynamism for you, then go ahead, the new Kia Niro is not for you. If it’s the sweetness you’re looking for, though …© Kia

And what does it look like when driving? Good this Niro is the worthy heir of his major. This is a very polite and easy-going SUV, which immediately stands out with its suspension comfort and smooth operation. With a light foot, 44 electric hp are enough to reach almost 50 km / h without waking the 1.6 l and, as before, if the battery is charged you can travel from 2 to 3 km in 100% electric. On the road the two engines work very well together, the Sport mode adds a bit of dynamism to the restarts. These are decent in absolute terms, but aWith the whole family and luggage on board, we tell ourselves that we will have to anticipate overtaking. In any case, the Korean SUV does not appeal to lovers of dynamic driving. Between very power-assisted steering – it’s a bit better in Sport – fairly pronounced body movements and a moderately efficient front axle, this Niro stays at a good distance from a Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid for example.

However, the whole is very consistent and this Niro retains the strengths of its predecessor. Starting with the 7-year / 150,000 km warranty and pretty competitive prices. The Korean thus shows itself from 31,700 euros with a nice equipment (adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, Apple CarPlay / Android Auto), when a Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid 145 starts at 32,800 euros. This partly explains why 3,900 customers had already pre-ordered the Niro …

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