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Kia’s small Niro Hybrid GT-line SUV – frugal but somewhat expensive

david berthon

Korean car maker Kia had a remarkable year last year – climbing to No. 3 on the
sales chart behind Mazda and market leader Toyota, overtaking sister company
Hyundai in total sales for the first time. And of course, successfully sponsoring
the Australian Open Tennis, a platform to launch one of its latest models, this
year, the high-performance electric Kia EV6. I’ve seen Kia grow over a long time
and for the most part it has an impressive model range. Late last year it
introduced a second-generation Niro, a rather funky roomy small front drive SUV
which comes as a hybrid or pure electric. The hybrid Niro comes in two variants,
the S and the better equipped GT-line which I drove – teaming a 1.6-litre 77kW
petrol engine with a 32kW electric motor and six-speed automatic– it’s not a plug-
in hybrid, thankfully, but a closed loop hybrid that harnesses electric energy on
the run when coasting or braking. It works a treat, a great drive experience and I
managed just 4.5 L/100 with city driving. And it uses cheaper 91 RON petrol. But
the cost is around $55,000 drive-away – certainly highly equipped yes, but a lot of
money for a small SUV.

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david berthon