This time last year we bought our family car. I was pregnant with Little Man and we had searched high and low for a car big enough to fit 3 car seats in the back. I had desperately wanted a hybrid or electric car but the only ones which met my specifications were incredibly expensive and way over our budget. At the same time my Dad was also looking for a new electric car and he was test driving the Kia Soul. After I accompanied him to the Kia showroom I discovered a Kia car which met all our requirements, had loads of extras and was well within our budget. Already familiar with all the surprises a Kia has, I was really excited to be test driving the Kia Niro for a long weekend.
The email from Kia Niro stated:
'the Niro is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid and first ever hybrid in the UK (meaning it’s eco friendly with CO2 emissions as low as 88g/km and a fuel economy of up to 74.3mpg). It features the Android Auto (a first for Kia - which links Android smartphones to Google Maps navigation, Google Play music, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition via pre-downloaded apps) system and is a family friendly car! The Niro is a spacious five-seater with large boot space. As standard it has a unique seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty'
There were a couple of stand out points in this email from me 'family friendly', we are a family of 5 and with 2 dogs how family friendly is family friendly?, 'five-seater' is it really? many cars claim to be five seaters 'large boot space' is it large enough for my very large running pushchair? I was really keen to put the Kia Niro to the test and see if it could cope with our very active family!
The first test was to fit three car seats in the back of the Kia Niro. Upon first inspection I was sceptical, as the seats looked like 2 and half seats, which are standard in most cars but when I began to look closer I could see that they were a little bigger.
The two outer seats are slightly larger than a standard seat which gives a 2 and 3/4 seats across the back. ISO points are located on the two outer seats also, but it is always worth checking the car seat manufacturers hand book to check compatibility.
It was a great surprise to find therefore that I could fit all three car seats in the back of the car. There are a couple of points I would like to add to this:
1. None of the seats were touching the door when closed
2. None of the seats were touching each other, there should always be a gap between car seats
3. The buckle was accessible and was not suffering from buckle crunch.
This was certainly a big plus to be able to get 3 car seats in the back and certainly showed that the Kia Niro is a true 5 seater car.
For additional comfort and one of Kia little surprises, is the rear outer seats are also heated seats! This adds a real touch of luxury to the car and a very welcome surprise!
In addition to the heated seats, the rear door also contains space for a cup holder and speakers. I loved the white on grey detailing and stitching around the handle.
In addition to the previously mentioned ISO fix points, the outer two rear seats also have tethering points on the back.
Whilst we could fit all three car seats in the back, one of the children would often travel in the front. For whatever reason my children when they were babies do not enjoy travelling in a car, none of them want to sleep in a car and the youngest two scream constantly in the car too. My youngest daughter did this until she was forward facing. As a result we usually have one of the children on the front seat so as to pacify Little Man, as he will scream for the entire journey. This is not car or car seat dependant, he does it in all cars in all car seats. I therefore spent a few journeys in the back of the car and I found it really comfortable. There was enough leg room, even when sat in the middle, and I had plenty of head room too.
In the front of the car there were plenty of additional little surprises. Two 12V charging points and another in the arm rest compartment, which was incredibly deep so lots of storage. A USB point and AUX but even more impressive was the wireless charge mat.
The ability to charge my phone without needing to mess around finding a cable and then mess about again trying to connect it up was just amazing. I could get in the car place my phone on the mat and it would charge as I was driving. It then meant that the USB port was free to use for another device. In theory you could have 5 devices all charging at the same time [USB/3x12v and charge mat], which if you have children each with an electronic device on a long car journey this would be a real advantage.
There were so many gadgets on the Kia Niro I do not think I managed to find them all. The control panel layout was incredibly easy to use and you could quickly access anything you needed to. Adding to this the ability to use Android Auto, the Kia Niro was pure joy to drive.
Over the few days we had the Kia Niro it rained constantly and I have never been so grateful for a car with heated seats and also a heated steering wheel. Coming into the car with cold hands and warming them up on the heated steering wheel was pure luxury and I do not think I could now own a car without this. In addition to heated front seats, the front seats are also cooling seats. This sounds perfect for summer!
The large monitor gave a crystal clear picture, showing all aspects of driving from navigation to energy flow. In fact a favourite part for the girls was to watch 'the tree'. It became a game to see who could fill the tree up!
All information could be found at the ouch of a button, everything displayed in such a beautiful way. I found that visually the Kia Niro was a real treat to drive.
Having established I could fit all three children across the back seats of the car, it was time to see if I could also fit in the other important family members, the dogs. J and spotty dog had plenty of room in the back of the Kia Niro and I could also get the pushchair in the back with them.
One of my passions is running and it is incredibly important that any car can fit my running pushchair in it. I was a little worried at first as the pushchair only just fitted in lying down, but it kept knocking the back window, I was therefore rather happy when it fitted in on its side! My running pushchair is a lot larger than a standard pushchair or travelling system and so I have struggled to fit it in some cars.
Both girls also love to ride their bikes, I tend to run alongside them, and the ability to fit both cars in the boot of the Kia Niro was a huge advantage.
When you first look at the Kia Niro you would be forgiven in thinking it was a non hybrid car. The exterior takes on the distinctive Kia look, with the angled front lights that remind me of a cats eye.
I guess in some ways that is rather fitting as the front grill is a Tiger Grill and as a result Kia gave little man a lovely little gift, which you may have seen on Instagram.
The Kia Niro certainly has the looks of an SUV and drives incredibly well even in wet conditions.
In all honesty I forgot that I was driving a hybrid car. There was no lag when the engine changed from electric to petrol, the ride was quiet and smooth and the Kia Niro accelerated when needed again with no lag.
If you are looking for a family car, one with plenty of boot space and full of lots of extras than the Kia Niro has to be a serious contender. Given that the Niro is a Hybrid car I was incredibly surprised at how smooth the ride was and that I could not tell when the electric swapped to petrol, which you can notice in other hybrids. The Kia Niro is packed full of safety features with adaptive cruise control and parking sensors, and even ISO fix and tethering points. We were all sad to see the Niro go at the end of our long weekend, just a shame we don't need to buy another car just yet else we would have seriously thought of the Niro!