Car Buyers Guide

Kia Niro First Edition 1.6 HEV

September 2016


  • Good amount of standard equipment
  • Doesn't shout about its environmental credentials
  • Handles relatively well
  • Offers better value than you might think


  • Petrol engine drones slightly under load
  • Expensive compared to crossover rivals
  • Higher trim levels increase fuel consumption and emissions
  • Vague steering spoils otherwise solid driving dynamics
Kia's new crossover may look like any other small SUV-cum-hatchback, but the ordinary bodywork hides a complex hybrid powertrain. As well as taking on the Fiat 500X and Skoda Yeti, the Niro is pitched as a high-riding alternative to eco-friendly hatchbacks like the Toyota Prius.

The Niro is Kia's first dedicated hybrid - the old Optima hybrid simply shoehorned an electric motor into a chassis built for internal combustion engines - but it doesn't really shout about it. At first glance, it looks like any other small crossover, but that's the whole idea. This is a green car that doesn't shove its eco credentials down people's throats.

It's fairly normal inside, too, where there's a mix of parts lifted from other cars in the range. That's no bad thing, though - it's well put together and there's nothing wrong with how it looks. It will set you back a few pounds, though, with base models costing about GBP7,000 more than the entry-level Fiat 500X.

On-board tech is generous, however. Two-zone climate control and alloy wheels are standard features across the range, and all but the most basic cars get goodies like touchscreen infotainment systems. Top-spec cars, meanwhile, come with a whole host of toys, including a panoramic sunroof and ventilated seats.

But the centrepiece is the hybrid powertrain, which combines a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor to send 139bhp to the front wheels. In more modestly equipped cars such as the '2'-grade model on test, it only emits 88g of carbon dioxide per kilometre and officially returns more than 74mpg.

Our verdict on the Kia Niro First Edition 1.6 HEV
The Niro is a competent crossover spoilt only by a few little flaws that prevent it from quite matching the best in the class. But you needn't go for top-spec versions to get plenty of gizmos, and if you can put up with the vague steering and the drone of the internal combustion engine, you'll be able to enjoy near-silent inner-city driving and super-low running costs.