Popular mid-size SUVs have been upgraded
The Niro from Kia is very popular in the Netherlands. The Koreans would of course like to keep it that way and so the Niro was recently completely redesigned. The popular Volkswagen T-Roc has recently been significantly refreshed and, thanks to new support systems and a new design, it must be completely updated again.
Types of cars and prices
Immediately there is one big difference between these two ruffs. Volkswagen does not offer its mid-range SUV with hybrid technology. It is very surprising, because nowadays many users want to have that option. The T-Roc is – for those who forgot – bigger than the T-Cross and smaller than the Tiguan. This model debuted in 2017 and was not available as a hybrid at the time nor as a plug-in or PHEV. The arrival of this latest version cannot change that because it is only a facelift and not a completely new model. Modifying the engine and everything related to it is very difficult for a facelift. Now you might think, then that would be the same as the next, all-new T-Roc. But that’s just a question. After all, if you look at VW’s model range, there are quite a few hybrids anyway. It’s just EVs or internal combustion engines.
This facelifted version now always has the so-called Digital Cockpit, which means digital instruments and a large information screen on top instead of on the dashboard. Another new feature is the possibility of autonomous driving. The nose is also new: a different grille, differently arranged headlights with LED lights. The rear lights are also different. The cheapest version of the Volkswagen T-Roc costs €32,790 and about €460 in private hire. You always get partial LED lighting, adaptive cruise control and front and rear parking sensors. The test car is ‘slightly’ more expensive. It costs € 39,920, but this is also a thick version. At least, in terms of equipment. It’s the R-Line, but with an entry-level engine; 110 hp three-cylinder gasoline engine. The R-Line has, among other things, 17-inch light alloy wheels, sports seats and that digital screen is now bigger. The new option to drive autonomously on the highway is unusual. It is a €360 package. The same applies to the beautiful matrix light that VW praises so much in the folder – a system that can never shine your oncoming traffic and still be able to drive with high beam. That’s also an extra 760 euros. Finally, the warranty: It doesn’t last for two years. But Dutch importer PON is adding another two years, as long as you stay under 100,000km in those four years and, of course, maintain it at a VW dealer.
The Kia Niro does better in that regard with a 7-year manufacturer’s warranty. The all-new Kia Niro has a different nose and tailgate and a different color cluster – although that’s only for the more expensive versions. The test car’s hybrid power output is a maximum of 141 hp, with the combustion engine being a 105 hp and 144 Nm four-cylinder 1.6 GDi petrol engine. The electric power source provides 44 hp. The whole thing is connected to a two-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The new Kia Niro is not only available as a Hybrid, but also available as a plug-in hybrid and as an electric e-Niro. The hybrid version is the cheapest with a starting price of €31,995 or about 500 euros per month in private rental. The plug-in combination is the most expensive 7 and the EV comes in at around 44 grand. Every Niro has cruise control, an emergency braking system, a reversing camera and navigation as standard. There are four trim levels and our test car is the fattest, launch version. It costs 41 grand and with that extra ten grand the car almost sinks through its feathers from all the excess. From a Harman Kardon stereo and wireless charging for your smartphone to adaptive cruise control integrated with your navigation and a remote-controlled parking system – you don’t even have to be in the car to park and you do – it’s all on.
How do the Kia Niro and VW T-Roc drive?
The Volkswagen T-Roc drives comfortably, but there are still areas for improvement. What is known? For a car in this price range, a lot of tire noise is heard and small bumps are not filtered out very refined. He feels a little weak. The six-speed manual gearbox also doesn’t feel very refined, but it feels decent. Additionally, there is very little pulling power below 2,000 rpm. The shift indicator (and eco tips) want you to shift forward to drive as economically as possible, but as soon as you want to overtake or accelerate, you have to slow down. Conclusion: do not go for the entry-level engine, but for TSI 1.5 with 150 hp. This also has the advantage that more is allowed on the towbar. This test car can carry 1,300 kg, 1.5 not less than 1,700 kg. The price difference for the more powerful engine is 2 mille in each version. Finally, use. VW gets a utility average of 1 out of 16.9.
It will not surprise anyone that the Kia Niro is more economical because of the hybrid car. 1 in 19.1. The handling of the Kia Niro is similar to that of the T-Roc. Here too, the ridges are not completely flawless. But in this case, it is mainly the rear axle that plays up. It is very well sprung at the back and on some bumps, the car comes with hesitation. Too bad, that might be a bit much. Steering is accurate enough but there is very little feel. As with the T-Roc, a bit of tire noise is audible. The pulling power is better than that of T-Roc. He just reacts well and is lively to the accelerator. But that is also allowed with the 1.6 petrol engine and the electric motor. Only you hear the combustion engine with great stress. Just like the T-Roc we’re testing here, the Kia Niro can tow a maximum of 1,300kg on the towbar.