As first attempts go, the Ioniq’s dedicated economy-car treatment is a pretty solid and inoffensive-looking one – particularly if you’re put off by the leftfield looks of the car’s key Toyota rival.
The hybrid version earns its spurs by being practical, frugal and affordable, but if it is a rounded, polished, uncompromised drive you are after, look elsewhere.
Just as is the case with the Hyundai Ioniq, the Kia Niro crossover is available in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric forms. Both hybrid and ‘PHEV’ mate a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 43bhp electric motor for a peak 139bhp and 191lb ft of torque, and both are front-wheel drive, using a six-speed twin-clutch gearbox.
The only meaningful difference the plug-in hybrid offers, besides a socket via which to plug it in, is a bigger drive battery (8.9kWh vs 1.6) – and so there’s no extra electric performance associated with the ‘PHEV’ here.
Being a crossover, the Niro offers good practicality and convenience compared with a regular five-door hatchback, although its drivability and handling aren’t as polished as other hybrids we’ve tested, and its real-world economy isn’t the match of the best, either.
The fully-electric e-Niro, by contrast, is one of the most compelling and convincing affordable electric family cars on the market – and so if you were considering any Niro, the full EV is the one we’d recommend.
This rare plug-in hybrid compact MPV offers its owners plenty of flexible passenger and carrying space. Using the same electric rear axle arrangement as the Mini Countryman above, it brings four-wheel drive to the table as well; and, matching the Mini’s power and torque outputs precisely, it’s also no slouch in performance terms. BMW claims a 6.7sec 0-62mph dash for the car, and a 126mph top speed.