Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid (2022): A stark advance

Briefly

second generation

SUV cars

Electric hybrid

from € 38890

In 2016, when the first-generation Niro was revealed, Kia’s ambitions for this unprecedented compact SUV sounded very ambitious. It is a matter of making it, due to its hybrid, rechargeable and electric motors, one of the best-selling brands in Europe. In France, the contract has since been fulfilled, with all the engines combined, the Korean brand’s best-selling model in France in 2021. The success is due more to the technological advancement of its mechanics than to its multi-purpose look. For this second opus, the designers started from scratch. Regardless of size, everything changes. Like Kia’s latest creations, such as the EV6 and Sportage, the Niro 2 showcases highly personalized lines.

Niro 2 forgets the glamorous lines of its predecessor and now asserts its character.

The mesh that spans the entire front is extremely thin. It peeks at projectors with tortured features, but oddly enough, it’s only LED on its premium premium finish. As for the daytime lights, they look like question marks. To emphasize the identity of its SUV, the bow also features a wide opening, obscured by an anthracite plastic element.

The new Kia logo sits proudly on the hood
The new Kia logo sits proudly on the hood

From every angle, Nero shows aesthetic originality. In profile, it is the C-pillar that takes, as an option (€400), a color different from the body color. Viewed from behind, we notice the narrow bezel and boom-like lights.

On the premium end, the instrument panel is entirely digital.
On the premium end, the instrument panel is entirely digital.

The same search for originality prevails in the passenger compartment. Even if the instrument panel, with its two digital displays mounted against each other, is reminiscent of those in the EV6 and Sportage, it is unlike anything found in this class. At least in the premium version because if the multimedia touchpad is standard across the entire range (it measures 8 inches diagonal on the movement and 10.25 inches on the active and premium version), only the top of the range is entitled to a digital instrument cluster. A strange choice given that we now find this equipment in most city cars. However, we applaud the quality of the materials used on board and the care that was taken at the end, a very clear progression compared to the previous Niro.

With 348 liters, the trunk of the Niro Plug-in hybrid is less spacious than that of the Renault Clio.
With 348 liters, the trunk of the Niro Plug-in hybrid is less spacious than that of the Renault Clio.

If there is no shortage of space for front seat occupants or for those in the back seat, everyone, on the other hand, will have to learn to travel light. Indeed, the traction battery under the box saves only 348 liters. If, for you, all the songs of the weekend go with the action, this version presents a fatal flaw. True, the new battery is much larger than that of the All Niro, increasing its capacity from 8.9 to 11.1 kWh. On the other hand, it allows quite a large autonomy of electricity. At a comfortable pace, and despite a test cycle consisting of highways and mountain roads, we managed to get to 60 km without burning a single drop of bullets.

Under the hood, we find a file
Under the hood we find the “old” 1.6 atmospheric 105 hp.
The transmission is still trusted to a dual-clutch automatic gearbox with 6 gears.
The transmission is still trusted to a dual-clutch automatic gearbox with 6 gears.

On the other hand, the dual motor is carried over from the previous generation. It still uses a 105 hp 1.6 GDI and an electric motor whose power increases slightly from 60 to 62 hp. But in-depth work on the joint management of these two blocks allows the Niro Plug-in Hybrid to now have 183 horsepower of combined power, or 42 more than previously.

Unfortunately, this extra cavalry is still more than conservative on the road. Acceleration is hard, and the mechanics and transmission settings were obviously chosen for their ability to increase electric range and reduce consumption. At this last point, the goal was achieved. On the mixed cycle, we never went over the 5l/100km average. Discreet, cavalry is also in the ear because, even after the permissible speeds on the French road network, the noise level is very low on board.

Unlike the lines, the mechanic lacks personality.
Unlike the lines, the mechanic lacks personality.

On the other hand, to overtake, there will be no other options but to switch to Sport mode. If the Nero gets up (a little), it gets rough (a lot) when changing gears. A character that does not fit his calling. It is better then to stick to the “good daddy” rhythm and make the most of the flexibility of the mechanics and the comfort of the damping.

In fact, the suspension effectively erases most road imperfections, even when it has to mount, as was the case on our test sample, with 18-inch wheels of excellent finish. We bet the result is more successful on other versions that have 16-inch rims and thus benefit from higher side tires (205/60 R16). But smoothness isn’t always driver-friendly. Thus, the asymmetry of the direction exaggeratedly isolates the latter from bitumen.

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