Given all Niros use the same platform and look largely identical, you would expect them to feel broadly similar to drive. However, that is not the case at all. Where the new Niro EV is genuinely engaging thanks to feelsome steering and a keen front end, the Hybrid just handles securely but uninspiringly. There’s more body roll, and the steering is quite light and mostly mute.
It’s the same story for comfort: even on the smallest wheels, the hybrid Niro’s suspension can crash through potholes where the EV would soften off the edges. Compared to other hybrid crossovers, the Niro’s ride is absolutely fine, however, and much improved over the old car. Surprisingly, the car we drove in the UK also performed better than the pre-production car we drove in Germany a few months back.
Acoustic refinement isn’t the Niro’s strong point. Slightly more road roar, suspension noise and wind whistle filter through into the cabin than in rivals, but, like the ride, it’s nothing you wouldn’t quickly get used to.
Should I buy one?
Pricing and equipment for the new Niro is broadly in line with its rivals considering the equipment you get as standard. On the hybrid, there are three trim levels, simply named 2, 3 and 4; 2 costs £27,745, rising to £30,495 and £33,245 for 3 and 4 respectively.
The full-hybrid powertrain has proven to be very efficient and more pleasant in daily use than its direct rivals. The Niro also scores with a thoughtfully designed interior that offers excellent space, looks that stand out from the crowd, strong standard equipment, good infotainment and Kia’s market-leading seven-year warranty.
It’s slightly frustrating that Kia wasn’t able to make the hybrid handle as well as the EV and inject a touch more refinement. However, it improves on the old one in the ways that matter and secures Kia’s place at the top of a segment that’s only going to get more important.