what Australia has replaced its old, short-lived counterpart. Nero With a new model that offers a very sharp design inside and out.
The old model was as vanilla as it gets, while the new version has a better stance, a more aggressive nose, bolder boomerang-shaped high-mounted rear lights and contrasting body cladding.
From the side profile it is more hatchback than SUV. For a bit of context it’s no longer or wider than a Hyundai i30 or Toyota Corolla, and has a limited 160mm of ground clearance.
While the old Niro range came in hybrid, plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and fully electric (EV) variants, this new one is hybrid (HEV) or simply EV – in Australia, anyway.
High demand for the Niro at home in Korea (16,000 first-day sales) has limited Australian supply, so don’t expect to see a Niro Hybrid on every street corner.
Yet as a small SUV with a hybrid drivetrain, there will be buyers lining up.
gave Kia Niro Hybrid S Cost tested here $44,380 before on-road costswhich equates to a $49,276 driveway in Melbourne.
For those who can offer more features than the Nero S, much better equipped Kia Niro Hybrid GT-Line It costs $50,030 before on-road costs, or about $55,000 drive away.
In contrast, the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid costs $40,500 to $55,600 drive away depending on variant, the Honda HR-V e:HEV L is $47,000 drive away, the Haval Jolion Ultra Hybrid is $40,990 and the Light Way. Electrified Mazda CX-30 G20e $41,000 drive away.
From within the wider Kia family, you can also get a punchier Kia Seltos GT-Line AWD Turbo at $45,290 driveaway.
Getting into and starting the Niro S requires you to take the key fob out of your pocket and push a button, and to start (quietly thanks to the e-motor) you turn the key into the ignition barrel. Needs – feel a bit. Old hat in 2022!
At least the side mirrors automatically fold in and out when you lock and unlock.
The cloth and synthetic leather seats struck me as flat in the base and therefore lacking in thigh support in the corners, although they move electrically, and along with the telescopic wheel column are available in most shapes and sizes. Allows people to find an ergonomically friendly position.
The design is quite interesting, using angles and interesting shapes – exemplified no more than the unusual two-spoke steering wheel with Kia’s new branding, which is made of rental-spec polyurethane rather than wrapped in leather.
Behind it is a crisp, basic digital cluster that changes color as you adjust the driving mode between Eco and Sport. The speedo and tacho is a central display that shows you trip data, tells you what the hybrid system is, and shows live animation of the lane keeping aid.
To its left is a slab of drab plastic, with the 8.0-inch touchscreen looking rather small in this context.
It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto that work wirelessly (though there’s no charging pad), digital radio, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and both USB and USB-C ports. Wireless CarPlay crashed a few times and showed an error message.
You know you’re in the base version, when you consider the fact that the Niro GT-Line includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, embedded AI voice command functions, and Kia Connect telematics including Remote Vehicle Supports monitoring and e-calling.
See more below to get a more detailed breakdown of the extra features you get by stepping up to the GT-Line.
Beneath the screen and slim horizontal air vents is a slim touchscreen fascia that smartly guides you to various climate control functions, or media control shortcuts. Car brands put a lot of functions into screens these days, but Kia’s process felt intuitive.
Overall build quality feels solid, though many materials feel more hard-wearing than premium. On an eco-friendly note, the headlining is made from recycled PET material, and the seats are made from bio-PU with Tencel from eucalyptus tree fibers.
We have a common complaint; Lots of piano black trimming, with a tunnel in the Nero’s case, which is little but a magnet for dust, scratches and sun glare.
The gear shifter is pleasing in its traditions, but like the plastic wheel that feels downmarket.
There’s plenty of storage, notably the large center console with retractable cupholders, and decent door bins.
The rear seats are surprisingly good. I am 194 cm tall and have plenty of foot, leg, knee and head room behind my ideal driving position. There are also rear USB ports, vents, ISOFIX/top tether anchors, and flip-down armrests with cup holders.
Bot capacity is claimed. 425 litersspreading to 1419L With the rear seats folded. A space-saver spare wheel resides under the floor.
The Niro features the HEV’s drivetrain. 1.6 liter naturally aspirated petrol engine to create 77 kW Power and 144Nm of torque, as well as a 32kW/170Nm For the combined output of the electric motor, 104 kW And 265Nm.
The electric motor is mounted in a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, compact 1.32kWh The lithium-ion battery lives under the rear seat, and the setup drives the front wheels. There is no all-wheel drive option.
The battery’s small reserves are kept in play by regenerative braking, which is the way Toyota works everywhere. The result is claimed combined-cycle fuel economy only 4.0 liters per 100 km Using 91 RON petrol on city or country cycles, equivalent to 92 grams of CO2 per 100 km.
with 42L tank on board, the theoretical driving range sits at over 1000 km. For anyone looking to cut their fuel bills – AKA everyone – that’s a head-turning statistic.
Kia’s claim 1300 kg Brake towing capacity, but only 100kg maximum towball download.
First, the fuel economy is absolutely excellent. I achieved a real-world figure of 4.5 liters per 100 km during 422.1 km of driving, including city and highway stints.
As is common with hybrids, the petrol engine usually propels the car at low speeds, except where the battery-powered electric motor spins you around, meaning it usually starts quietly.
That said, I was able to slowly crawl up a car park ramp at part throttle in EV mode, while the engine can decouple at higher speeds as long as you’re not taxing it too much. I clocked 84 kmph down a slight hill in EV mode.
It feels quite zippy when you accelerate because it uses a quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission, while the e-motor eliminates the low-speed jerkiness sometimes expected in its DCT. There’s the occasional noticeable powertrain handover but overall it’s pretty smooth.
It loses puff at high speeds, as shown by its nearly 10-second 0-100km/h time, but around town it offers a decent level of responsiveness.
A downside is the lack of regenerative brake adjustment via the pedals, a feature that only comes in the GT-Line variant. However, the Niro S gets Eco and Sport modes that slightly adjust the drivetrain’s response to initial throttle application.
The suspension includes an independent MacPherson strut and a multi-link rear design with passive dampers, while the electric power steering system offers a 10.6 meter tuning circle.
The Niro also underwent a local ride and handling program to ensure its suitability for Australia’s unique roads – Kia Australia’s first full local development program since the start of the COVID pandemic.
It’s much sharper in corners than the pre-update model, offering body control in corners and pretty responsive and direct steering. It also rides well with plenty of tire sidewall to act as extra cushion, though NVH suppression was only moderate.
Its driver-assist aids are usually well-calibrated – it can alert you when the car moves ahead if you’re not paying attention, speeding up, short-duration between road lines. Drive for, and stop yourself in an emergency. Brake conditions.
As always, these ‘Level 2’ driver aids require you to be in control of the vehicle at all times.
The Niro S’s feature list is limited, with many features we’d expect a nearly $50,000 vehicle to lack – unless you step up to the Niro GT-Line grade.
Highlights of Nero HEVS:
- 16 inch alloy wheels
- Temporary redundancy
- Halogen projector headlights
- Evening sensing headlights
- LED daytime running lights
- LED tail lights
- Heated, power-folding side mirrors
- Rear parking sensor
- Polyurethane steering wheel
- Auto dimming rear view mirror
- Dual zone climate control
- Cloth and synthetic leather seats.
- Eight-way power driver’s seat
- The folding key goes into the barrel.
- 8.0 inch touch screen display
- Digital radio, AM/FM
- 6-speaker audio
- 4 x USB (3 x Type C)
- Wireless Apple CarPlay
- Wireless Android Auto
- Reversing camera
Nero HEVGT Line added:
- LED projector headlights
- 18 inch wheels
- Front parking sensor
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Rear privacy glass
- Powered tailgate
- A glossy black pillar option
- Keyless entry and start
- Metal skif plates.
- ‘Premium’ steering wheel
- Synthetic leather seats.
- Front seat heating and ventilation
- Shift-by-wire gear shifter dial
- 10.25-inch central touchscreen
- 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
- 10.0-inch head-up display
- Wired Android Auto
- Wired Apple CarPlay
- Voice recognition, commands
- Factory Satellite Navigation
- Kia Connect telematics app services
- Wireless phone charger pad
- Ambient interior lighting, 64 colors
- Sounds of Nature Program
In short, the list of standard features on this base Niro HEVs is stingy considering its cost.
Nero has more. Five star ANCAP safety rating With a 2022 date stamp.
It scored 88 percent for adult protection, 84 percent for child occupant protection, 76 percent for vulnerable road user protection, and 87 percent for safety assistance features.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Dual front airbags
- Dual front side airbags
- Curtain airbags
- Driver’s knee airbag
- Front center airbag
- 3 x top tethers, 2 x ISOFIX
- Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)
- Car, pedestrian, cyclist detection
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane Keeping Assist
- Lane Following Assist
- Blind Spot Collision Avoidance Assist and Avoidance
- Driver Attention Alert, Lead Driver Departure Alert
- Rear cross-traffic collision assistance and avoidance
- Safe exit warning
Niro GT Line added:
- Reverse AEB for parking
- Safe Exit Assist (keeps door closed)
- Power operated rear door child locks
- Remote Smart Park Assist
- Remote e-call function
While fuel economy and Seven-year/unlimited mileage warranty Outstanding, no service charges.
Kia sets its own service prices and intervals are either annual or 15,000km – whichever comes first.
Niro HEV Service Pricing:
- 1 year or 15,000 km: $276
- 2 years or 30,000 km: $653
- 3 years or 45,000 km: $370
- 4 years or 60,000 km: $1035
- 5 years or 75,000 km: $311
- 6 years or 90,000 km: $818
- 7 years or 105,000 km: $533
The new Kia Niro HEV S looks the part, drives very well, and is extremely fuel efficient.
But I’m less sure about the value-for-money equation, especially given the large list of desirable features that’s limited to the top-spec GT-Line variant.
Does it offer a more compelling package than the Honda HR-V e:HEV L or the upcoming Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid? On paper, I’d say not in the S grade according to the test.
Click on the images for the full gallery.
MORE: Everything Nero Did