Kia Niro – Cross Traffic

The Kia Niro brochure boasts of this planet saving hybrid doing 3.8Litres/100km, which all sounds well and good but these numbers can often only be achieved in ‘ideal’ conditions and environments and not REAL world. I (accidentally) made the Niro’s efficiency part of my review and I’m actually pleased I did.

Ask any commuter and their number one pet hate is traffic. They’re all part of it and yet all have (albeit varying degrees) a dislike of travelling bumper to bumper on the way to spending around eight looong hours at work watching the clock in a job they don’t want to be at (but that is a different story).

Reviewing cars means that I too spend an unnatural amount of hours behind the wheel, often with beautiful backdrops and landscapes but I also (and for far more time than I would like) spend a lot of time staring at the rear end of the vehicle in front of me, whom in turn is staring at the rear end of the vehicle in front of them – ad infinitum. Most of the time I use these quiet moments wisely, I push and poke the buttons and dials and explore the cabin interior of the car I’m in, effectively putting it under the microscope (I do appreciate that if it’s the same car you’ve owned for several years this is a moot point). But again, for me; it’s a good chance to see how intuitive the features are (such as infotainment) and what really appeals to me the driver. However, recently stuck in traffic in the new Kia Niro things took on a more competitive element.

Glancing around the cockpit of the Niro you are left in no doubt that there is an Eco/Hybrid edge to the vehicle. There are basically badges and green emblems virtually wherever you look. This of course is not a bad thing and for many people this will be one of the main reasons to purchase one (there are plenty more but I’ll get to that soon) but I also felt like maybe they were ‘protesting too much’. Anyway, fiddling with a few dials I accidently reset the economy setting before heading out on a long motorway trip and ended up both surprised and yet not so by the results. One of the main large instrument panel dials is the EV/Eco monitor, the needle on this points anywhere between ‘off’ and charge (good) to varying levels of ‘power’ (Bad) and depending on where it sits is which source of power it uses (battery of fossil fuel). I’m sure you all know that. Anyway, bridging the gap between both Power source and Speed dial is a economy indicator in Litres/100, both realtime and average and this for me was mesmerizing.

Firstly the long run. At motorway speeds the end result was 5.1(ish)L/100 and as I previously stated, this was somewhat bitter/sweet. I’m very impressed that it could produce such an impressive figure but I did keep my speed controlled and it just confirmed that brochure figures are a stretch – or are they.

As Monday morning rolled around I found myself stuck bumper to bumper in traffic (no surprises there) however, I reset of the economy setting and it was game on. I nursed the accelerator and kept that needle hovering low in the band of green (economy). Cursing a little when I had to speed up to fill gaps. The result was a totally eye opening 3.9(ish)L/100 – it’s a brochure number in real life! From a commuting point of view, rain essentially just rubs salt in the wound, it turns slow flowing roads into car parks, I couldn’t have been happier, chance to reset and try again. Stopped Niro meant solely battery, which meant zero(ish) fossil fuel – the end result 3.7L/100k – not a huge difference but a saving is a saving – genius!

The Niro is far more than just a fuel saving device though, it good looking (in a Sportage meets Sorento type of way) and has enough of an elevated ride to start talking about it in terms of crossover or even (shhhh) SUV. From my small family point of view, it roomy and practical. The Niro drives well around corners (the low centre of gravity – batteries – would do this) but the 1.6L engine could do with a little extra power sometimes (fine for around the town).

The interior is practical and spacious but I must say that the infotainment system (although has plenty going on – even a rear view camera) is barely the size of a smartphone – I personally prefer a bigger screen. 

Overall, the Niro is a great addition to the Kia range and opens them up to a new category of interest. The styling is good and it has a whole host of standard extras including ‘cross’ traffic alert, Plus as I can now happily attest, it has an inbuilt method for you to enjoy your daily commute – economy watching.

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