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Kia’s Niro Hybrid GT-line SUV – a closed loop HEV hybrid with excellent economy

david berthon

Driving Kia’s second-generation small Niro Hybrid SUV – I drove the better-
equipped GT-line, a roomy, highly featured and somewhat funky small SUV,
visually appealing, teaming a 1.6-litre 77kW petrol engine with a 32kW electric
motor and six-speed automatic. Importantly, this is not a plug-in hybrid but a
closed loop hybrid that harnesses its electric energy on the run, when coasting of
through regenerative braking. Much the same principle that Toyota use on their
Camry hybrid sedan and RAV 4 SUV. What is impressive, the small lithium-ion
battery weighs just 34kgs, a lot lighter to many plug-in hybrid batteries. With
mainly city driving I managed economy of just 4.5L/100. But the Kia Niro Hybrid
GT-line will set you back around $55,000 drive-away, a lot of money for a small
front-wheel drive SUV. Having said that its very highly equipped, the drive
experience in a somewhat roomy cabin front and rear, appealing, smooth and
quiet – the electric and petrol motors working in real harmony. Some nice interior
touches, like twin 10.25-inch infotainment and instrument cluster displays. It
comes with a five-star ANCAP safety rating and Kia’s welcome 7-year/unlimited
kilometre warranty, however, the battery disappointingly only warranted to
150,000 km during the 7-year period.

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david berthon