Well, amazingly, that was way back in 2016 and since then the car has performed well in Ireland – but admittedly sometimes gets lost in among the powerhouse models like Sportage, Ceed and of course, the 2022 Irish Car of the Year, the EV6. And to a lesser extent the Stonic and the Sorento.
The thing is, though, you won’t find a negative review of the compact crossover SUV anywhere because it is one of those rare cars that motoring journalists all agree on. It is not fastest, the sexiest or the most fun car on the roads, but it more than makes up for that in comfort, safety and reliability.
Plus, it’s great value. Just look at the number of Niro taxis around our cities to get an idea of its economy.
So, when Kia announced a new version was landing in Ireland, they brought us to their European HQ in Frankfurt to get a sneak peek at Niro 2.0.
Full-electrics, hybrids and plug-in hybrids are part of this stage of the Niro’s journey, and Motormouths were one of the first in Europe to see what all the hype is about.
Luckily, Kia hasn’t meddled too much with the new version. From an EV perspective, I fully believe the Niro gives its stablemate a good run for its money.
There is a welcome but not too drastic redefined styling, with some design flourishes that will help it to stand out more from the crowd on Irish roads. The grille is improved and textured, while the headlights are more angular to complement the new chassis.
There is also a contrasting C-pillar option when you buy the car, which I think will polarise opinion (I’d opt for the single body colour) but you should know that it cleverly doubles as an aero device to channel to air along the body of the car as you travel.
OK, so the price has increased a bit, but not many rivals can offer as comprehensive on-board tech, versatility and range.
The layout inside (below) is very different to the original and more than a few elements have been hijacked directly from the stupendously impressive EV6.
There’s a 10.25-inch digital dash and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen housed beneath a single panel. It has intuitive menus and crisp graphics and I am happy they didn’t tinker too much with this.
Kia’s slick multi-mode panel also makes an appearance, allowing users to switch between climate and media controls at the touch of a button.
Of course, all the usual features like wireless phone charging, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a head-up display and heated rear seats are available too, along with a function called 'Vehicle-To-Device' in their EV, which allows the Niro to power appliances via a three-pin socket.
Weirdly, despite having the largest battery of all the Niro variants, the EV also has the largest boot of the lot, thanks to its floor-mounted pack. The 475-litre load space is bigger than that of the Peugeot e-2008 (one of my favourites on the market) and grows to a very impressive 1,392 litres with the rear seats folded.
I got to test the HEV and the PHEV on the roads of Frankfurt last week and I learned to love this car. I will get a full week in the EV later in the year.