2022 Kia Niro Hybrid Review: Hybrid de Niro

Lionel Kong

Back to Page 1: Introduction and Design

Driving Experience

Thanks to the archaic classification system with Singapore’s COE system, the Kia Niro Hybrid appears to have been slightly detuned for sale in Singapore, which is a pretty common practice by dealers circumventing the Category A and Category B classifications. The Australian-specification Niro Hybrid makes a total power output of 139 horsepower, while the Singapore-spec version is maxed out at 130 horsepower.

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX in Singapore

That’s because 130hp is the power cap for selling a car in the Category A COE segment, supposedly meant only for small and basic cars. However local auto dealers have learnt how to game the system a long time ago. The BMW 216i Gran Coupe and Audi A3 are both ‘Singapore luxury specials’, detuned to slip into the Cat A COE here, and perversely, they fight for the same COE as a basic Mitsubishi Attrage

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX engine in Singapore

As for the Niro Hybrid, losing nine horsepower over its Australian counterpart isn’t much of a loss thankfully, as the full petrol-electric hybrid drive experience makes for a decently punchy drive. 

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX in Singapore

The full digital dashboard switches between various displays as is pretty much standard these days, and the steering wheel’s paddle shifters are used to set the battery regeneration strength when in standard drive mode. There are three levels of regenerative braking, increased by pulling the ‘-’ paddle on the left side. It feels like increased engine braking from the driver’s seat as the strength is increased, and there’s also an auto regenerative braking mode, which is accessed by holding down the ‘+’ paddle on the right side for more than one second.

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX in Singapore

In this mode, the car uses its sensors and cameras to detect if there is a car slowing down ahead of it, and automatically increases the ‘engine braking’ seamlessly, and as necessary. It’s actually very smooth in this mode too and very driveable. 

It’s not a sports car, but the ride is neither soft and wallowy, nor choppy, which was a characteristic of the Renault Captur. The academic 0 to 100km/h sprint time of 10.5 seconds doesn’t really tell the whole story as the car really doesn’t feel slow at all. It has a decently gutsy midrange punch when the electric motor and engine combine to accelerate for overtaking. It will manage corners confidently as long as you don’t throw the car in at sports car speeds and expect it to stick.

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX wheel in Singapore

Also, the 16-inch wheels may not look all fierce and aggro like some other cars in this class, but the extra tyre to wheel height ratio makes for a smoother ride as the extra rubber absorbs small bumps better. Niro Note: The new car has full alloy wheels, unlike the previous car which had plastic covers on its steel wheels.

When fully packed with five occupants it definitely feels weighty, but with up to three adults in the car it is still a spritely drive.

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX in Singapore

With a single 24-hour drive we recorded an average fuel economy of 4.5l/100km, not far off the official stat, but Kia engines are known to become smoother over time and the test car is brand new, so in theory, the fuel economy will get better as the engine beds in. 

Here’s the thing though: On paper, the old Niro Hybrid and new car on paper, have the same 4.0L/100km fuel economy, and that’s despite the new car’s improved aero, new Smartstream engine. In the old Niro, on the same route, we did better in the old car with a 3.8L/100km efficiency score, compared to low 4.0s for the new car. The issues of running in aside, we did expect a better performance from the new car. Qualifying statements: Our test car had 500km on the clock when we drove it, and we only had it for a couple of days.

What happens when you drive an EV until it runs out of battery?

Competition and Conclusion

The launch price may seem on the high side, but it’s mostly COE money. The SX variant here is very well-equipped with standard features that you will typically only find on a more expensive car.

It’s also very well put together with great attention to detail. For example, we found that the car has a single button activated Quiet Mode, which shuts off the speakers at the back seats and limits the audio system’s volume to a set figure. It’s a feature you never knew you needed, especially when you have a sleeping toddler or baby in the back seat. 

2022 Kia Niro Hybrid SX in Singapore

A Hyundai Kona Electric , or any of its other family relations in EV and hybrid forms are the obvious competitors but there’s also the Toyota Yaris Cross Hybrid, still making a case for a solidly built, reliable hybrid. The Kia Niro Hybrid is slightly bigger though, and in both SX and EX trims also feel slightly posher. Then there’s still the case of, is the SX version worth the extra S$15k over the EX? It’s a lot to add, but if you can afford to stretch for it, it’s worth the extra outlay. That’s because you are buying a lot of very useful additional features, rather than a thousand dollars or so for just another tacky bodykit and some ‘sports wheels’. 

Kia Niro Hybrid SX

Drivetrain type Petrol-electric full hybrid 
Engine 1,580cc, inline 4
Power104hp at 5500rpm
Torque144Nm at 4000rpm 
Gearbox6-speed, twin-clutch
Electric Motor 43hp
BatteryLithium ion, 1.32kWh 
System Power130hp
System Torque 265Nm
0-100km/h10.4 seconds
Top Speed165km/h
Fuel Efficiency4.0 L/100km 
VES Band A2 / -S$15,000
AgentCycle & Carriage Kia
PriceS$168,999 with COE and VES
Availability Now
Verdict Spacious and well-equipped with a comfortable, family-friendly character

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5 seat 5-door Hybrid Hybrid SX Kia niro SUV

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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