Even scarier, in this undignified finger-pointing debate, is that far from every SUV/Crossover is a planet-destroying gas guzzler. In fact, some of them are in the vanguard of environmental motoring, as their high-riding stance enables the cheap and effective efficient fitment of large batteries and/or hydrogen tanks and heat exchangers. 

Take Kia’s Niro, for example, which since 2016 has offered a variety of drivetrain choices including petrol, hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and pure electric (EV). True, it wasn’t very brilliant to drive or to look at, but as far as reliability backed by a long warranty, economical and reasonably spacious family motoring was concerned, it was the tops. UK sales increased year on year and even in the height of lockdown, sales doubled.

Under the skin

So, this is the new second generation model, which is on sale this month with first deliveries in the autumn, although reckon on a six-month waiting list – the 285-mile range EV which arrives next month will be even tardier to market. Never mind whether a vehicle is any good these days, more important seems to be whether you can actually get hold of it.

So, changes include the dropping of the petrol engine and an ambitious SUV-style makeover and a growth spurt. At 4,420mm long and 1,825mm wide, it’s 65mm longer, 10mm taller and 20mm wider than the outgoing model, with a 20mm longer wheelbase. That increase in size particularly the width, isn’t going to be universally welcomed by those living on narrow roads.

Weights differ according to the drivetrain, but the hybrid is 70kg lighter. At 1,474kg in basic ‘2’ spec it’s no lightweight, though, and the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in the same trim is even heavier at 1,594kg. 


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