KIA Niro 1.6 GDI Hybrid Spirit: Young challenger with European quality genes

A few years ago, Kia shone, especially with its sensational seven-year guarantee at that time, the brand has long since developed to a high level in terms of tangible product quality, especially in the passenger compartment. Materials, processing and design now meet the highest standards.

This is not a South Korean miracle, but is largely due to the fact that the head designer is Peter Schreyer, who previously shaped Volkswagen and Audi (e.g. Audi TT). Today Schreyer is not only the top design authority at Kia and Hyundai, but also Kia president. In both houses, Schreyer has enforced its high standards both in terms of design and in terms of quality. With Peter Schreyer, the South Korean brand has grown significantly worldwide. His design signature is based on the Bauhaus philosophy of simplicity. He calls it "The simplicity of the straight line". And further: “It is a clean European language of form that we have and continue to do. Good proportions are important to us. Kia as a brand is the "Youthful Challenger", that is the fresh youth challenger, "says Schreyer. He has been supported by ex-BMW design chief Karim Habib since September.

A wheelbase of 2,70 meters also signals a large interior space at the rear Photos: Kia

This straightforward design philosophy can also be recognized on the Niro Hybrid with a multiple award-winning design (Red Dot Award, iF Award). The crossover, which was lifted this year, appears very present despite its compact dimensions, its wheelbase of 2,70 meters gives it an optically elegant length (4,36 meters in total) and signals a large interior space that it actually has. Tall passengers also sit comfortably in the back with enough knee space, even on longer journeys.

The width of 1,80 meters and the height of 1,53 meters create the typical SUV look, appear proportionally balanced, appear harmonious and pleasing. Short overhangs at the front and rear create a sporty look, both the headlights and the rear lights are optically placed quite high up. This is undoubtedly an individual touch and also underlines the SUV character. The large wheel arches accommodate large wheels that are already 18-inch models as standard. It is very unusual for a compact SUV to shine with aerodynamics. Side air intakes reduce flow turbulence, the lower grille is equipped with active air flaps as standard, which can only be opened when necessary. A diffuser and the roof spoiler complete the aero package. The result is a drag coefficient of 0,29. A top position in terms of wind slippage among the competition.

He can use it, because with its 141 hp system performance consisting of a four-cylinder petrol engine (Euro 6d-Temp emissions standard) and an electric motor, it looks a bit limp on long motorway gradients if you prefer sporty driving. Accelerating from 0 to 100 km / h in 11,5 seconds is still sufficient to keep up with the speed even in fast freeway traffic, for example when entering the freeway. The Niro is also economical: Our experienced consumption was between 5,5 and 6,2 liters on average. If you want to drive even more economically with the Niro, you can fall back on the plug-in hybrid, which is supposed to cover up to 65 kilometers purely electrically.

In addition to the comfortable driving thanks to the successful damper-spring coordination, we particularly liked the precisely shifting six-stage dual clutch transmission (DCT), which is installed as standard. With a selectable sport mode, it shifts a little more dynamically, turns the gears higher; the shift paddles on the steering wheel also serve for an individually selectable gear change, which can be done up and down without delay.

Tidy and ergonomically designed fittings in stainless steel

The interior of the Niro shines with good design, materials with high-quality surfaces and an ergonomically clear layout of the switches and displays. The 10,25-inch navigation screen with touch technology complements the 7-inch LCD display in the instrument panel behind the steering wheel, is logical to use and is characterized by reliable function including traffic sign recognition. The operation of the navigation system and all digital displays is simple and can be used without operating instructions. With the new UVO Connect system including an integrated SIM card, traffic disturbances, weather data and parking options are transmitted in real time. Possible routes to the destination can be sent to the navigation system via an app. The driver can use a split screen to display both the route and the energy flow of the hybrid drive.

The steering wheel buttons and buttons can be used to control important functions, call up information and make settings. There is pretty much everything that corresponds to today's technology: a smartphone interface for Android and Apple CarPlay, inductive cell phone charging, an adaptive cruise control that can handle stop-and-go traffic and recognizes road markings and thus the Niro in its Lane holds. Remarkable is the extraordinarily reliable high-beam assistant, which dazzles at lightning speed when a vehicle comes towards it.

Harmonious proportions from every perspective

Our test car (Spirit equipment) with a basic price of 31.290 euros costs 1.490 euros with the leather package (550 euros), a metallic finish (1.290 euros) and the Advanced Driving Assistance package (34.620 euros). However, the vehicle seemed completely equipped with it. In plain language: there were no wishes left. And the heated steering wheel is a boon in the upcoming cold season.

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