Kia's second generation Niro Plug-in Hybrid is quite a complete package in second generation form. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

You may well know the Kia Niro as a Hybrid and if so, you're probably also aware that it can be a full-EV too. You may not though, know that you can additionally have it in a form in which it could be argued you get the best of both worlds. That's the Plug-in Hybrid variant we look at here.


If you're set on electrification for your next family hatchback or small SUV, it's hard to make the right decision on which approach is best. If you've (rightly) rejected mild hybrid powerplants as being more hype than substance, that leaves you with full-Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid or full-EV options. And trying different cars with these different approaches might understandably merely leave you somewhat confused. It'd be a lot easier wouldn't it, if the same design from the same brand offered all three options and you could try them back to back, un-influenced by other factors. The Kia Niro allows you to do just that.

We're now in this model second generation and in this form, it's a good deal more sassy than the somewhat conservative original. Currently, most Niro customers go straight for either the Hybrid or the EV versions, without looking properly at the PHEV model we're considering here. Is that a mistake? Let's see.

Driving Experience

We had hoped that this second generation Niro Plug-in Hybrid model's significant increase in battery size (from 8.9kWh to 11.1kWh) might have brought a greater increase in EV driving range. In the event, it's risen to around 40 miles with this second generation model (up from around 36 miles with the last versions of its predecessor). As before, you get a more powerful electric motor than the one in the ordinary Niro Hybrid - it's 83bhp in this PHEV. But the familiar 1.6 GDI normally aspirated petrol engine it works with is much the same and in this form puts out 180bhp via a 6-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox to the front wheels. Take off is smooth and if you flex your right foot enough to try and match the quoted 0-62mph time of 9.6 seconds, the petrol engine will kick in quite quickly with a noticeable thrum.

Best to relax the throttle a bit and go with the flow: it's certainly not worth regularly using the provided 'Sport' mode, which brings heavier steering and wakes the petrol engine up a bit earlier. The 'Sport' setting also changes the functionality of the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which aren't fitted with base '2'-spec trim. Where included, the paddles are usually used to allow you to switch brake regeneration modes. In 'Sport', they become gearshift paddles.

Design and Build

At first glance, unless you spotted the badge-work, you'd probably mistake this Niro Plug-in Hybrid for the full-EV version - or possibly for the self charging Hybrid model if you failed to spot the extra charging flap. Subtlety, as ever with a PHEV, is the key note here.

But it isn't the key note of this second generation Niro model's styling, which is a good deal more extrovert than that of its rather dull-looking predecessor, particularly if you avoid this base-trimmed version and stretch instead to top '4'-spec, which gains a rather overt coloured blade covering the C-pillar.

Inside, the dash you get depends a lot on how much you've spent. The base '2'-spec model makes do with Kia's more basic 4.2-inch supervision colour cluster instrument display and an older-tech 8-inch centre touchscreen. Further up the range, the car gains the smarter twin 10.25-inch displays this fascia was rather obviously better designed for.

Boot space is 348-litres in this PHEV, though that compares poorly to the 451-litres you get in the HEV Hybrid and the 495-litre capacity of the Niro EV.

Market and Model

Prices for the Niro Plug-in Hybrid now open at just over £34,000, which gets you the entry-level '2'-spec version. You'll need over £36,000 for mid-range '3'-spec and over £39,000 for the top-spec '4' version. These figures represent a premium of around £6,000 over a non-plug-in Niro Hybrid; but you're looking at a saving of around £3,000 over an equivalently-specced full-electric Niro EV.

With the base '2'-spec, you'll also have to accept a considerably lower standard of media tech, with an 8-inch centre screen that can't be paired with the useful 'Kia Connect' app. Further up the line-up, the 'Kia Connect'-compatible 10.25-inch centre screen is standard and top '4'-spec trim pairs it with a more advanced digital instrument cluster display of the same size. Along with a 10-inch head-up display which projects vital driving information, including speed, ADAS data and navigation commands, directly onto the front windscreen.

Across the range, safety kit includes 'Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist', 'Lane Keep Assist' and 'Lane Follow Assist', a 'Multi-Collison Brake' set-up that works after an impact, braking the car so that it's less likely to go on and hit something else. There's also a High Beam Assist' system to automatically dip your headlights at night.

Cost of Ownership

We gave you the battery range figure for this PHEV model in our 'Driving Experience' section - around 40 miles. More than enough for a driver to complete the average daily commute in the UK. Topping up the Niro PHEV's 11.1kWh lithium-ion polymer battery to full takes two hours 55 minutes using a 3.3kW garage wallbox. Insurance is group 23A - or 24A for top-spec '4' trim. The official (pie in the sky) combined consumption fuel figure is 353.1mpg and the CO2 reading is between 18 and 22g/km, the latter removing the need for initial VED road tax payments.

The Niro PHEV debuts Hyundai Motor Group's very first 5.5kWh high-volt Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heater for Plug-in Hybrid models, extending the electric driving range in colder conditions. The self-regulated ceramic elements provide cabin heating to complement the vehicle's heating core and ensure a continuous flow of warm air.


The continuing popularity of PHEVs and amongst cars of this genre in this price bracket, the Niro Plug-in Hybrid certainly has appeal. Particularly in this second generation guise with its significantly larger battery. It's pricier than we'd hoped it would be - but unfortunately nearly all its competitors are too. At least there's a bit more 'want one' factor this time round. Un-plug and play? That concept might make a bit more sense with one of these.


CAR: Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid

PRICES: £34,075-£39,575 – on the road



CO2 EMISSIONS: 18-22g/km

PERFORMANCE: 0-62mph 9.6s / Max Speed 104mph

FUEL CONSUMPTION: (combined) 353.1mpg

BOOT CAPACITY: [litres] 348

WILL IT FIT IN YOUR GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height 4420/1825/1570mm