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Kia Niro Hybrid GT-Line 2022 review


The second-generation Niro hybrid SUV has hit the Australian market featuring a striking design and a fuel-sipping engine. The only thing holding it back, it seems, is the price Kia wants you to pay

Good points

  • Lots of room for adults
  • Great fuel economy
  • Striking design
  • Good stock availability

Needs work

  • Not cheap
  • No AWD option
  • Hybrid missing some features
  • Pricey servicing costs

Midsize SUVs may be the flavour of the moment in Australia but not far behind is the flock of stylish and intelligently packaged small SUVs.

And it’s not hard to see why; small SUVs are generally easier to drive around town, cheaper to buy, often use less fuel and can offer a bit more personality than their more generalised compatriots.

There are few better examples of this trend than the Kia Niro, now back in its second-generation form and cloaked with a completely new design, this Korean small SUV aims to impress in an increasingly crowded segment.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 rear 3/4

Available in a choice of either S or GT-Line grades paired with ‘HEV’ (hybrid) or fully-electric powertrains, the Niro has a reasonably modest selection. However, the $50,030 asking price of the GT-Line hybrid we are reviewing here isn’t quite as modest.

As a small, hybrid-equipped SUV that errs on the larger side, the Niro competes directly with a handful of rivals including the Subaru XV Hybrid, Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Plug-in Hybrid and Toyota C-HR Hybrid, though in terms of price and space the Kia compares more closely with the Honda HR-V e-HEV L.

At a time when Australia’s best-selling SUV, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, is commanding a wait time of over a year or more, the Niro HEV presents itself as an unexpected alternative, packing much of the same functionality and, enticingly, Kia says there is a good chance you could simply walk into a dealership and buy one at the moment.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 headlight

Kia Australia is planning on shipping between 75 and 100 hybrid and fully electric Niros into Australia every month, though in July it sold just 73 units.

So if you aren’t too choosy about colour or grade combinations, you could end up with one of these in your driveway in a matter of weeks. Though if you’re the fussy type and want your Niro specified just right, Kia says you’ll be in for a one- to two-month wait – which still isn’t actually that bad in the strange times we’re living in.

Kia currently doesn’t offer a hybrid variant for the Niro’s larger Seltos and Sportage siblings, so the question must be asked: can this small SUV do it all?

How does the Niro drive?

Like pretty much everything, Covid-19 made a bit of a mess of Kia Australia’s local ride and handling program and the Niro is their engineers’ first time back in the ring.

Tuning vehicles for Australia’s challenging road conditions is a regular undertaking for the Korean outlet’s local arm, which it staunchly defends and for good reason.

Being a small, energy-efficient SUV, the Niro will likely spend much of its life puttering around town and the combination of the forgiving yet compliant suspension and relatively smooth drivetrain delivers a pleasant experience.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 front 3/4 2

I say ‘relatively’ as there are occasionally some miscommunications between the 77kW/144Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and the 32kW/170Nm electric motor when climbing up inclines at low speeds but in general the experience is seamless.

With a total system output of 104kW and 265Nm, the Niro HEV can be quite sprightly at times and while Kia quotes a 0-100km/h time of 10.8 seconds, independent testing by Chasing Cars saw a significantly quicker 9.05-second performance.

All power is sent directly to the front wheels with no all-wheel-drive option available, which is disappointing for buyers looking for that added versatility.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 rear 3/4 driving

Kia is under no delusions of the driving intent of the Niro and has tuned the chassis to be quite soft to deal with the many imperfections we encounter in Australia. It’s not pillowy soft and a few harsh bumps did crash through the cabin a few times but it’s a compromise that should suit most people.

While that softness does give the Niro a delayed turn-in, once in the bend and travelling a decent rate of knots this pokey city car feels confidence-inspiring to wield and the drivetrain gives it enough ‘go’ to pull itself out of a corner surprisingly quickly.

Kia’s decision to pair its hybrid system with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission instead of a CVT like Toyota rewards the driver with a more comfortable and engaging experience that may also be to the preference of buyers.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 front 3/4 driving

Instead of the CVT drowning out the cabin with high RPMs in a desperate search of grunt, the Niro simply swaps to the next cog. Not only is this more engaging on a country road but it’s a hell of a lot quieter in everyday driving and doesn’t leave you dreading the moment that the silent electric motor runs out of bandwidth at low speeds.

Kia has made a concerted effort to improve the noise vibration and harshness inside the cabin of the second-generation Niro. The result is generally good, though some added sound deadening in the front footwells wouldn’t go astray.

The Niro is equipped with two driving modes that match up quite cleverly to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. In Sport mode, these toggles simply control the gears but in the default eco mode, they vary the amount of regenerative braking; though even on the most aggressive setting, the system is not strong enough to enable one-pedal driving.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 engine 2

ANCAP has not yet given the second-generation Niro an official rating but the new model does come with a healthy list of safety features.

These include a front-centre airbag, forward AEB (with pedestrian, cyclist and junction detection), front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring and multi-collision braking to stop you from rolling into another accident after a collision.

Family buyers will appreciate the inclusion of seatbelt reminders, reversing AEB and speed-sensing automatic door locking. It would be nice to see a 360-degree camera for added convenience when parking, though this feature is only available on a handful of small SUVs, such as the Toyota Yaris Cross.

Drivability scorecard
Power & performance
Ride & refinement

How is the Niro’s interior?

For a car that is so visibility small from the outside, you might be surprised to find out just how big the Niro feels on the inside.

The Niro is one of a few small SUVs, along with the likes of the Skoda Kamiq, that offers enough space for adults in the front and back seats, which is great for young people with active social lives or those with a growing family.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 interior front

At around 180cm tall, I don’t feel comfortable getting into everything categorically small that rolls into our garage – recently I found myself smashing my knees into the steering wheel of a Lexus UX small SUV – but thankfully I’ve had no such troubles in the Niro.

The same can be said for the back seat, which is more comfortable than the fully-electric version as it doesn’t house a huge battery under the floor, and the amount of knee and toe room available is that of an SUV one size larger. The inclusion of amenities such as rear air vents, USB C charging points, a fold-down centre armrest and a litany of small cup and bottle holders also add to the appeal and flexibility of the Niro.

GT-Line grades of the Niro are fitted with vinyl upholstery in a shade of charcoal, with the front pews treated to both heating and cooling, though only the driver benefits from eight-way power adjustment in the hybrid model. The front passenger makes do with six-way manual adjustment.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 interior front 2

Soft touchpoints are abundant inside the cabin, though potential buyers of the HEV GT-Line should note that they are being shortchanged a handful of features that are available on the admittedly significantly more expensive $72,100 fully-electric Niro GT-Line.

These include a sunroof and an eight-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system; with HEV GT-Line buyers making do with a six-speaker system that serves its purpose, but isn’t anything special either.

If it was my money I’d rather depart with extravagant features such as the heated steering wheel and wireless phone charger before offering up a less comfortable experience to my passengers or even myself on a long trip.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 interior screen

Getting back in the driver’s seat, the position in the Niro is reasonably comfortable and provides a good view out, though the thick B-pillar did make it a bit difficult to check my blind spot at times.

Kia has gratefully fitted blind-spot monitoring as standard that does assist with this issue, but in practice, it’s a bit of a blunt instrument. Instead, it would be great to see Kia’s fantastic blind-spot view monitoring that provides a live feed when indicating onto the digital driver’s display that Kia has already gone to the trouble of fitting in the Niro.

This 10.25-inch display is fitted alongside a 10.25-inch touchscreen and both are housed inside a smooth arch that dominates the dashboard and brings a very modern touch to the cabin. Sadly Kia is still yet to adopt wireless functionality for the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so you’ll still need to bring a cable to plug in.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 interior back seats

With technology steadily dominating the cabin of cars, the industry has seen a split between manufacturers such as Honda’s doubling down on physical buttons, while others such as Volkswagen are banishing almost all physical controls and integrating everything into the touchscreen. Kia, for its part, has found a nice middle ground.

Sitting just below the touchscreen is a touch bar tasked with climate controls and media, though not at the same time. However, by offering only a handful of options at a time, as well as two physical dials on either side, using this control system while driving feels incredibly natural and for that Kia’s designer should be applauded.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 interior boot

Opening up the power tailgate reveals a 425-litre boot that is 15 litres larger than the previous Niro, though interestingly 50 litres smaller than the electric version. The space itself is very usable thanks to an adjustable load floor, shopping bag hooks and tie-down points

Those looking for a family vehicle will be happy to know the Niro fits a full-size pram and bassinet, though only just. Midsize SUVs such as the Sportage do offer more space with a 543-litre boot and a full-size, rather than a space saver, spare.

Interior scorecard
Layout & materials
Cabin technology
Driver comfort
Passenger space

What are the Niro’s running costs?

During our time testing the Niro HEV over a litany of sweeping country backroads, highways and aggravating stop-start Sydney traffic, we saw a combined fuel consumption figure of 4.7L/100km.

While that doesn’t quite hit Kia’s claim of 4.0L/100km, the result is incredibly impressive – especially considering that the Niro only requires regular 91-octane fuel.

Like all Kias the Niro has a seven-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty though it should be noted that the battery is only covered for 150,000km during that period.

Kia Niro HEV GT-Line 2022 interior screen 2

Kia’s capped-price servicing program will see buyers pay $4010 over a seven-year period, which is a bit pricy. Servicing intervals are every 12 months or 15,000km.

For context, the Toyota RAV4 offers a shorter five-year capped-price servicing period across 75,000km though you’ll pay just $1150, while maintaining a Honda HR-V e-HEV L across 50,000km costs a paltry $625.

Running costs scorecard

The final verdict

Standing out from the crowd shouldn’t mean that you have to sacrifice everyday usability and thankfully the Niro excels in striking this balance.

While its upfront and servicing costs aren’t the cheapest and the boot may not be big enough for some family buyers, the ample passenger space and abundance of features mean the Niro has the potential to be much more than just a small SUV for light duties.

In the meantime, the Niro HEV offers a fuel-efficient, stylish and fun driving experience that is well suited to many Australian buyers.

And the best part? You can actually get your hands on one before the next Olympics.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Running costs
Overall rating
Running costs


Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1580 cc
77kW at 5700rpm
144Nm at 4000rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
42 litres
4L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
1050km (claimed)
Front Wheel Drive
4420 mm
1825 mm
1545 mm
Unoccupied weight
1454 kg

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