WE have reached a crossroads when deciding how we want our cars to be powered.

An increasing but still relatively small number of drivers are making the leap into electric-only vehicles, while others are taking a more tentative step behind the wheel of a plug-in hybrid and some are choosing to make the more conservative shift into mild/self-charging hybrids.

Pound for pound, I reckon Kia’s e-Niro is probably the best all-electric car money can buy. It has a range of about 280 miles, a price tag of £33,000 and the ability to fulfil the needs of most motorists.

But the all-electric experience is not for everyone, and Kia is offering a couple of different powertrains if the full-electric experience is not for you.

Firstly, there’s a plug-in hybrid that enables you to switch from electric to petrol power. And then there’s the HEV hybrid that might well mark the start of your journey into the world of electric cars.

Whichever option you choose, you will not be disappointed by the features both inside and out of the Niro. In fact, you will be mightily impressed. On the downside, the Niro HEV takes 11.1 seconds to reach 60mpg, compared with the more dynamic e-Niro, which hits 60mph in 7.5 seconds through the virtually instantaneous acceleration typical of an electric car.

Its crossover-inspired design makes it big enough to be the family car, easy to manoeuvre in a city environment and very comfortable. The drive selector dial sits on its own panel which extends out from the base of the central armrest. In addition to the rotator dial, this new panel also houses buttons for the electronic parking brake, heated seats, heated steering wheel, drive mode selector, parking sensors, and the auto hold braking function.

This is Kia’s first hybrid in the UK and its crossover styling makes a bold statement in the compact hybrid segment. There’s a three-model line-up graded ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘4’.

At 4,355mm long, it slots between the Ceed hatchback and Sportage SUV in size.

Batteries are located under the rear seat for low centre of gravity and whereas 53 per cent of the body is made of high-strength steel, the bonnet, tailgate panel, front bumper back beam and several chassis components are in aluminium to save weight.

First and foremost, the Niro HEV is such a nice car to sit in and drive. You are immediately impressed by the soft-touch materials, abundance of comfort and communication features and the snug seats.

Some cars have the ability to put you in a relaxed frame of mind, and this hybrid is a prime example. Yes, the acceleration is slightly disappointing, but the ease with which it progresses through the six-speed DCT system and the composed ride make it a most enjoyable carrier.

It is based on a new platform which will only ever be used for electrified vehicles, and has a new powertrain featuring a 1.6-litre, 104bhp internal combustion engine and a 32kW (43bhp) electric motor driving through a six-speed auto dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Inside, Kia has introduced a series of visual and material upgrades enhancing cabin quality. The top of the dashboard is finished in soft-touch coating, while the dashboard and instrument panel feature new gloss black trim with satin chrome highlights. Kia has also introduced a 10.25-inch TFT widescreen for the main display on grades ‘3’ and ‘4’. The car is fitted with an 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system on the grade ‘2’ model.

There is plenty of legroom in the front and class-leading headroom in the back, where you will also find 373 litres of luggage space with all five seats occupied. This expands to 1,371 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded. Every last nook and cranny has been used for storage.

With a suite of safety features too, the Niro HEV will be the right choice for many at the crossroads of motoring.

The lowdown

Kia Niro 1.6 GDi HEV 3

Price: £27,100

Engine: Four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol producing 139bhp

Transmission: Six-speed DCT

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 11.1 seconds; top speed 101mph

Economy: 54.3mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Star ratings

Performance: ***

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****