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Kia Niro Hybrid Singapore Review - 1.6 SX (A)


The Kia Niro Hybrid is a small crossover SUV hybrid car that features a 1.6L Smartstream petrol engine paired with en electric motor that produces a combined 129 bhp and a listed fuel economy of 25km/l, making it a CAT A COE car in Singapore. In the more premium SX variant, consumers get premium features such as ventilated front seats, ambient lighting, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, and adaptive cruise control. The Niro Hybrid SX also comes with safety features such as lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.

The family car segment in Singapore is a rather broad and ambiguous one, for a family car can mean very different things to different people leading different lifestyles. Yet somehow, family cars over the years have mostly still found a way to be boring and mind numbing. You'd think a segment as generic as the family car would have found some sneaky ways to be exciting - except, if it is exciting, automakers would rather label it something else. Like Sportback, or SUV, or SAV for that matter, but I digress - We are here to talk about the Kia Niro Hybrid, which incidentally, seems to be the exception to the rule, and is making family mobility fun for the whole family again.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the Niro Hybrid is exciting - it is after all still a moderately specified Korean crossover designed to get you from one place to another, but it certainly looks exciting doesn't it? If you remember the old Niro Hybrid, it won't be difficult for you to realise that the new Niro Hybrid is a decidedly major step up, and frankly, is quite a pretty car to look at. If you have to nitpick, you might point out that the standard wheels, even on the higher end SX variant, are too small, and give the car a look that is slightly reminiscent of a boat on wheels - but otherwise, its quite hard not to like the rest of the car, with its unique DRLs and light assembly, muscular physique, beautiful rear end, and the c-pillars with built in aero. It's all very futuristic, and feels like something Master Chief from the Halo series would drive around.

On the inside, there is a very distinct sense that Kia has applied what they perceive to be their styling DNA into the cabin, and I think it works to a great extent. Cabin styling is often subjective, but when automakers try to apply some sort of styling language to it that is recognisable and can be associated clearly with a brand, thats good branding, and I'm all for it. I get into the Niro Hybrid, and I know I instantly know I am in a Kia - which is more than I can say for so many other brands. Of course, as somewhat of an entry level crossover, the Niro Hybrid isn't void of cheap plastics, but there is good effort to relegate it to low frequency touch points, except maybe the silver drive selector, which really should have just been kept black, or better yet, installed in the same pretty knurled metal finish plastic bit that surrounds the start/stop button. However, view the cabin holistically, and its clear that the Niro Hybrid is starting to punch above its weight class, with very decent build quality, and that lovely sweeping dash design that I think is very original and very appealing. The Niro Hybrid comes with wireless phone connectivity and a full digital driver's display, which round off the other points of parity that annoy me when they aren't on a new car.

The real party trick of the Niro Hybrid however, reveals itself while on the move. The new all-aluminium, 1.6 litre Smartstream engine paired with an electric motor give the Niro Hybrid an on-paper power rating of 129 bhp, just 144 Nm or torque, and a 10.4 seconds 0-100km/h timing. It also conveniently puts the Niro Hybrid into CAT A. However, don't believe everything you read on the brochure, because the Niro Hybrid feels extremely light on its feet, prancing through town with an abundance of power and "mana" that would put some higher rated cars in similar segments to shame - which I think has plenty to do with Kia's decision to pair the engine with a dual-clutch that is both competent and urban friendly. This might not seem like a big deal to the person who can't tell the difference between a CVT and a DCT - but while most other Asian offerings in the same segment are slapping on CVT transmissions to equally boring engines, Kia has done the admirable thing of putting in a quick shifting, driver friendly transmission that provides the driver with positive driving dynamics that works very well in Singapore's urban driving environment. I casually call this taking a leaf out of the VW playbook.

Despite this deliberate lean away from the fuel frugal emphasis of CVT-equipped cars, what is more amazing is that the Niro Hybrid actually manages to be one of the most fuel efficient cars available on the market, boasting economy figures of up to 25km/l - which is pretty damn amazing if you consider that the car has enough space to carry a family of up to 5 people, and comes equipped with a proper driver-oriented transmission. Up on the highway, the Niro Hybrid is composed, extremely comfortable, and at cruising speeds, still possesses enough torque and pulling power to take you to overtaking speeds with ease - even the engine note is rather pleasant even on a heavy rev. In the back, space utilisation is clever, and rear passengers will have plenty of legroom and a decent amount of headroom.

Overall, I think the Kia Niro Hybrid may be one of the cars that I am most impressed with in 2022 (partially also because I wasn't expecting too much) - and the car just absolutely works for anybody looking for a car that is capable of doing a variety of day to day things, looks great, and perhaps inspire them to lead a more youthful lifestyle. There are plenty of good vibes surrounding the Niro Hybrid in my opinion, and the car will appeal to those who find it in themselves to be discerning and consider something else other than a Toyota or a Honda. If anyone had up to $200,000 to spend on a new car right now, but didn't know what to get? I'd tell them to get a Kia Niro Hybrid.



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