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Kia Niro Hybrid 2021 review: Sport

The Niro hybrid sport is on the large end of the small SUV category.

Introducing another new small SUV from the folks at Kia, the Niro. The big point of difference is that this one is a petrol-electric hybrid (there’s a pure electric motor version in the range, too). The Niro is bigger than a Kia Seltos, but smaller than a Kia Sportage. 

I test drove the Kia Niro Sport which is top of two in the hybrid range. It costs $43,890, before on-road costs which puts it in a similar price category to the Hyundai Kona (full EV) and MG ZS EV, whereas if you opt for the full EV Niro, it will cost around $65K. So the Niro is more expensive for a hybrid

Here’s how it did over a week with my family of four. 

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How does it look?

Admittedly, it’s not a revolutionary design, which is odd considering what’s underneath the bonnet. The rounder shaped headlights make it look a little dated.

It’s an elongated shape as well as higher off the ground, so it feels larger than it actually is. It’s an elongated shape as well as higher off the ground, so it feels larger than it actually is.

It’s an elongated shape as well as higher off the ground, so it feels larger than it actually is, which is a good thing and it’s still a nice looking car if you like the comfort of familiarity. 

Inside doesn’t have the updated feeling you would expect of a hybrid or EV. The seats are premium and they look decent enough. The centre console is nicely designed, but has a few too many buttons to feel ultra-modern. Still, the multimedia screen is very large for this size car and Kia lets that take centre stage in the interior design. 

The centre console is nicely designed, but has a few too many buttons to feel ultra-modern. The centre console is nicely designed, but has a few too many buttons to feel ultra-modern.

The finishing on dash and doors is full of man-made materials but it doesn’t look remotely cheap. You feel good driving the Kia Niro Sport on the road.

What’s the tech like?

There is a 10.25-inch multimedia screen, which is large for a car this size, and makes up for the basic interior. It connects to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which give you instant access to your phone’s main apps for easy to use navigation and audio streaming. 

 

How spacious is it?

This is a small SUV, but it’s on the larger end of the category, so is more like a Honda HR-V or Nissan Qashqai space-wise.

There’s enough leg and headroom for taller passengers in the front and it’s got the width to make sure you’re not jostling shoulders. 

Taller people might find the back seat a little short on head space, but you’ll be fine for shorter journeys.  Taller people might find the back seat a little short on head space, but you’ll be fine for shorter journeys. 

Rear passengers will also be comfortable, my two girls, aged seven and nine, had plenty of space in the back and I’m 161cm (5'3") so can easily fit.

Taller people might find the back seat a little short on head space, but you’ll be fine for shorter journeys. 

It has limited space for three child car seats, but you can fit one if you’re very enthusiastic and your car seats allow it. I did it with three booster seats, but two boosters and the baby capsule that I had wouldn’t fit. 

The boot space is quite big for a small SUV, in this hybrid version it’s 410L (even bigger in the EV) which is bigger than a Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3 or Toyota C-HR. It’ll fit a pram, suitcases or sporting equipment and makes the Niro a much more user-friendly family option. 

  • The boot space is quite big for a small SUV at 410L in this hybrid version. The boot space is quite big for a small SUV at 410L in this hybrid version.
  • It’ll fit a pram, suitcases or sporting equipment. It’ll fit a pram, suitcases or sporting equipment.

How easy is it to use every day?

The Niro Sport has a key-ignition start, the front seats are manually adjustable and the tailgate is also manually operated. 

Rear passengers get directional air vents which is rare in this category. Rear passengers get directional air vents which is rare in this category.

It has good storage with two cupholders in the front, a small tray for keys and a phone, a centre storage bin and bottle holders in each door. 

Rear passengers get two cupholders in the centre armrest and also directional air vents which is rare in this category and one of those things my children always really appreciate in summer, or miss when I am driving a car without them! 

The Niro Sport has a key-ignition start and the front seats are manually adjustable. The Niro Sport has a key-ignition start and the front seats are manually adjustable.

How does it drive?

Here’s where the Niro shines. The hybrid model has a 1.6L engine operating in tandem with an electric motor. The hybrid motor is seamless, providing a smooth drive with no clunky bits while having enough power to get up hills. It also streams along highways, allowing you to overtake when you need to. 

The steering is easy to turn and it handles nicely around corners.  The steering is easy to turn and it handles nicely around corners. 

I kept forgetting it was a hybrid and wondered why I couldn’t hear anything when I turned the key in the ignition. The silence is a giveaway.

It’s also quick off the mark and quite nimble on the road. The steering is easy to turn and it handles nicely around corners. 

Parking in the Niro is good thanks to the size of the car and the easy steering. It manoeuvres well into parks and there is a good reverse parking camera to help out. 

How safe is it?

For advanced safety you’ll get forward auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and adaptive cruise control.

Surprisingly, there are no front parking sensors which can be detrimental if you’re used to driving most cars with parking sensors and keep going until you hear the beep!

You’ll get airbags for driver and front passengers but side curtain airbags that extend to the back row. There are two ISOFIX points and three top tether points for kids car seats. 

How much does it cost to own?

The Kia Niro Sport hybrid costs $43,890 before on road costs.

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 4.4L/100km and I averaged 5.9L/100km doing mostly suburban driving with some highways.

There is no charging on this model as it’s a hybrid, the other two more electric models is where you’ll need to charge the car. 

The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 4.4L/100km. The official combined cycle fuel consumption figure is 4.4L/100km.

It’s covered by Kia’s seven year/unlimited km warranty and the hybrid battery has a seven year/150,000km warranty attached.

Servicing is required every 12 months/15,000km, and 'Kia Capped Price Servicing' is available. 


The Wrap

It’s great that Kia has embraced the electric motor and introduced a hybrid Niro and even more electric versions in the Niro range to Australia. The hybrid version is affordable and on par with other hybrids, but the EV is in a higher price bracket and may not be the most cost efficient way to go electric. 

Still, this model offers space, more fuel economy and a sweet drive, even if it does feel like the styling is a tad dated. 

I gave the Kia Niro Sport hybrid a family rating of 7.8 out of 10 and my kids gave it the same, they love the hybrid motor and the fact we could even drive a full electric vehicle if we wanted to.

Likes

Hybrid motor
Smooth drive
Practicality

Dislikes

Pricey
Design doesn't feel ultra-modern
No front parking sensors

Scores

Nedahl:

3.9

The Kids:

3.9

$39,990

Based on new car retail price

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