Last year Kia introduced the Niro hybrid car, their first. The next logical step is a PHEV – Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle.
Basically, it has a bigger battery that you can charge, ideally overnight, that allows you drive the vehicle approximately 55kms before the petrol engine kicks in and it performs just like a typical hybrid. It’s the midway solution before going all-out electric. Kia, understandably, have an all-electric vehicle in the pipeline, the Niro EV, due in Ireland sometime early 2019.
I’m a fan of PHEV cars. It removes the range anxiety argument and allows wary buyers get the full electric experience which is, and will be, our collective experience in the not too distant future.
The PHEV driving experience is not too dissimilar to the Niro Hybrid in terms or roadholding. It is not the most spirited drive and in fairness it is not a car you buy for that purpose.
The main reason is to make an environmental difference. I’d call the performance adequate. Still, despite that you do get to experience all-electric driving and that is nice especially when taking off in silence.
It has that instant torque only available with an electric motor and it is probably the best, and most enjoyable, benefit for drivers. You don’t have to be a rally driver to appreciate that immediate responsiveness and it makes for a much more enjoyable drive. Kia claims 1.3ltrs/100kms which should make all fossil fuel users take note.
Other than the ability to charge the car from the mains it is essentially the same as the hybrid car. It’s a hybrid crossover and there are not many of them on sale at the moment so it is ahead of the curve. It enjoys excellent levels of equipment and is a very decently packaged although the addition of the batteries reduces the boot size from 382ltrs to 324 ltrs.
The PHEV costs €35,995 which is just over €6k more than the Hybrid version but there is an additional SEAI grant of €5,000 available so always do the maths when comparing.
That pricing undercuts the Prius PHEV and the Mini Cooper S E ALL4 although they both offer just that bit more in terms of style and panache.
I remain wedded to my opinion that the Niro looks could have been more adventurous and have some of that new Stinger magic applied.