All-new hybrid, PHEV and electric Kia Niro arrives in summer

Published: 04 April 2022

► New Kia Niro Euro specs confirmed
► Sharp new look inside and out
► Still available as hybrid, PHEV or EV

Kia’s confirmed proper specs and details of its hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric Niro crossover. It’s had a thorough going over, with Kia giving it a much sharper design and plush interior details from its EV6.

You’re not kidding – this looks wild!

Kia’s team say they wanted to make the Niro just as functional as before, but to make it a ‘more emotional’ car in terms of its design. Which makes sense – the current Niro may be a very good (and very popular) car but it wasn’t going to win any awards in the styling department.

kia niro rear

The new one, though, is inspired by the Habaniro concept from 2019. The front end has a proper cyberpunk-like look, with ‘heartbeat’ DRLs in the new lighting clusters and a central charging port in the nose.

Follow the car backwards and you get to a side blade over the rear wheelarch – something Kia says is functional, as there’s a small air vent for smoother aerodynamics incorporated within. It also allows the new Niro to be customised a little more with two-tone paint options.

kia niro interior

Inside, Kia’s lifted the interior from the EV6 into the new Niro, with an off-centre dashboard arrangement, a pair of widescreen displays in one flush panel and a two-spoke steering wheel. Kia says the cockpit is full of recycled materials, including the headlining, and the seats are upholstered in ‘Bio PU’ – a more environmentally friendly polyurethane – and Tencel, which is a cellulose fibre.

We’ve sat in the new Niro and it’s a very pleasant place to be, and spacious, too. Adults can sit behind adults in the rear row – something Kia says is due to thinning the front seat backs to allow for more knee room, and the material finish has improved.

What’s new under the skin?

Well, you still get the same powertrain options as before – a conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and an EV – but Kia says the Niro has been comprehensively overhauled. The fact it’s on a new platform – the Hyundai/Kia K3 platform that launched in 2020 with the Elantra saloon – is a testament to that.

The Hybrid and PHEV models use Kia’s 1.6-litre ‘Smartstream’ naturally-aspirated petrol engine and a new generation dual-clutch automatic which is 2.3kg lighter, as reverse gear has been removed – Kia says the e-motor can do the job of reversing the car on its own. The PHEV introduces a new, more efficient heat pump, too. Fuel efficiency for both hybrids haven’t been announced yet.

kia niro hev

In terms of performance specs, here’s the run-down:

Hybrid:
1.6-litre plus e-motor
139bhp, 234lb ft
10.4 sec 0-62mph, 103mph

PHEV:
1.6-litre plus e-motor
181bhp, 258lb ft
9.6sec 0-62mph, 104mph
40-mile e-range

EV:
64.8kWh battery plus e-motor
201bhp, 188lb ft
7.8sec 0-62mph, 104mph
288-mile e-range

Anything clever about the new Niro?

For the EV, Kia’s confirmed you can spec V2L functionality. That’s the tech that allows you to externally power all sorts of things via an inverter you plug into the charger port; the tech first debuted in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and, later, Kia’s own EV6 and the Genesis GV60.

Hyundai/Kia V2L tech: does it work?

The PHEV, meanwhile, has a new geofence-related feature that switches the car into EV mode automatically in certain areas called Green Zone. It works very much like BMW’s eDrive zones, where the car will go EV in a congestion or low-emission zone. The difference between BMW’s and Kia’s tech, however, is that you can set your own ‘green zone’ – perhaps on your own street, or near a school or other area – that ensures your car remains powered by the battery only.

When can I have one?

Prices are still to be confirmed in the UK, but expect a small increase in over the current car. For the EV, Kia says orders open in April with the first deliveries arriving in August 2022.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

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