The Kia Niro has been manufactured in Hwaesong, South Korea since 2016. The second generation of the compact SUV was presented last year. This year, the Niro is making its second attempt in Europe with three different engines. Since June 2022, it has been available as a full hybrid, plug-in hybrid and purely electric car. After we examined the predecessor model extensively in the travel test last year, this year we have extensively traveled more than 3.000 test kilometers in Europe with the plug-in hybrid. We focused our attention on all technical assistance systems. Here you will find our extensive test impressions.
The second generation
The second generation sets new accents in the design of the radiator grille, the hood and the revision of the headlights and taillights. The more distinctive and lower-seated headlights provide very good illumination of the road. In the side view, there is a color accentuation of the C-pillar and the rear lights, which are now mounted vertically and mounted at the top, make the stainless steel appear even higher.
In the interior, the division into the instrument section behind the steering wheel and the integrated information display is even tidier than in the previous model. The front seats offer good lateral support and can be quickly adjusted electrically to suit your needs. The adjustable lumbar support can be fixed to your own needs. Instead of a selector lever, Kia relies on the rotary control for automatic selection with visual feedback. In addition to the set maximum speed from the adaptive control, the head-up display includes the current speed and the permissible maximum speed. A pleasant treat on long journeys is the navigation-based cruise control system with stop-and-go function. In addition, the blind spots are continuously monitored and vehicles located in them are conspicuously displayed.
If you value high travel suitability, you can compare several aspects in the travel test. Before you go on the big tour towards Italy, you have to pack and stow your bags. In the plug-in hybrid, the smaller trunk with 348 liters of storage space is noticeable. The standard suitcases for air travel can be easily stowed in hand luggage, up to four suitcases can be accommodated here. On the other hand, it will be more difficult for the large suitcases to be checked in. The trunk is simply too small for this and can only accommodate up to two heavy suitcases without any problems. There is also a small intermediate floor, which is reserved for the charging cable.
Detailed fine adjustments
If you are going on a trip and know your driving preferences, you can familiarize yourself with all the detailed settings for your own driving feeling before setting off. In the high-contrast central information display, all relevant driving functions can be fine-tuned via the Vehicle settings menu item. Starting with the energy-saving settings and the head-up display to the usable driving assistance systems, you can create your own individual configuration. All selected settings are saved permanently and are therefore always available even after the vehicle has been restarted.
A 7 motorway endurance test
The first 800 kilometers take us entirely via the A7 from Kiel to Stuttgart. First of all, we switch to ECO mode and the displayed range after refueling and fully charging the battery is 760 kilometers. These are ambitious goals for the first section of the route in dry autumn weather. Personally, I always rely completely on the adaptive cruise control on these tours. This is also where the first positive surprises come in, because as soon as you set the paddle shifter to the maximum speed that can be driven with your left thumb, the display changes to green and a short acknowledgment tone is audible. After that, the speed switches automatically every time the maximum speed changes. However, this always takes place with a time delay, so that the speed cameras installed in the construction site areas have to be driven on sight.
With more than 50 construction sites on this route and what feels like 3 visible flash systems, the adaptive control is a significant relief. Even in short traffic jams, the stop-and-go function is relaxing when braking. After a stop, the accelerator pedal only has to be tapped briefly and the cruise control works again. Even after a brief manual braking manoeuvre, the adaptive control works after a tip with the thumb on the cruise control.
The assistance systems for long distances
In the second section, covering a distance of 600 kilometers between Stuttgart and Brescia in Italy, the focus is on the extensive assistance systems. The P1 package is integrated in our test car, it includes the adaptive cruise control including the speed limiter as well as the stop & go function and the left turn assistant. The highway assistant uses the radar sensors to ensure the adjustable safety distance to the vehicle in front and supports steering by keeping the vehicle in the middle of the lane. With the lane change assistant, the steering wheel is released to change lanes after the indicator to pull out.
Two other assistants work reliably in this environment. The active blind spot assistant with steering and braking intervention signals vehicles in the blind spot in the mirror and in the head-up display. Feedback is always given directly on the steering wheel when trying to change lanes. If the indicator is activated when turning left, the system warns of oncoming vehicles and triggers emergency braking in the event of danger.
Arrived after a good 6 hours of driving time with a single tank filling and an average consumption of 5 liters of premium petrol E5, we still have a remaining range of a good 150 kilometers on the display. And based on this experience, I can only confirm that the long-distance rides with the systems activated above are a significant relief on the big tours and that you get out of the Niro relaxed after the ride.
Finely adjustable air conditioning
In the warmer regions of southern Europe, climate control settings are an important consideration when driving. Contrary to the trend towards complete digitization and integration of the functions in the information display, Kia still relies on a climate board in the Niro that can be operated completely analogously. This means that all important functions such as temperature regulation, ventilation control and fine-tuning of the automated ventilation control can be carried out clearly while driving. This is a clear plus in the area of operation.
As part of our test drives, we unwound a total of 3.000 kilometers within 10 days with various stops. It should be emphasized that all set functions are not automatically reset after the end of the journey. This means that all driving settings based on personal preferences are retained for the next trip.
After more than 3.000 kilometers of motorway with the new Kia Niro through Europe, you can once again experience a few significant improvements in the assistance systems compared to the previous model. The new Niro can be used flexibly for leisure, sports and family activities and is interesting for users with longer journeys.
Practical test in autumn 2022.
How do you like the new Kia Niro PHEV?
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