The new Kia Niro is exactly the kind of electric/petrol hybrid that’s likely to become increasingly attractive to buyers as the anti-diesel lobby grows stronger.

The Niro is a good-looking crossover which sits on a platform that Kia has designed specifically to take the battery packs required for electric power – a move that demonstrates how seriously the Korean manufacturer is taking the design of its first dedicated hybrid.

Starting up the Niro is a slightly surreal experience as you turn the key to be greeted by silence, rather than the usual engine noise.

The near-silence is maintained as the crossover vehicle sets off in electric mode, with the traditional engine only kicking in when higher speeds are reached.

The compact crossover Niro is a so-called ‘parallel hybrid’, which means the petrol and electric power units work in tandem most of the time. However, it can operate in all-electric mode for a decent distance as long as you’re not too heavy with the accelerator. When descending hills, the battery regenerates swiftly, meaning you’re unlikely to completely run out of battery power.

When a bit more urgency is required, the switch between modes is seamless, smooth and hardly noticeable.

Together, the motors produce 139bhp, with that power being laid down through a six-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

That results in a 0-60mph time of 11 seconds and a top speed of 101mph, with CO2 emissions of 88g/km and a combined fuel consumption of 74.3mpg.

The front-wheel drive Niro is pretty sharp off the mark, accelerating with ease and offering a spirited drive. The 265Nm of torque in first gear is a noticeable plus point. This is helped by confidence-inspiring handling, with the Niro making light work of the tightest and trickiest corners. In many ways, it puts paid to the theory that hybrids aren’t much fun to drive.

In terms of looks, the vehicle has a rugged appearance with a wide stance that hints at its stability and low centre of gravity.

The front end is dominated by Kia’s trademark tiger nose grille along with LED running lights.

This five-door vehicle’s good looks are completed by bold roof bars, large rear wheel arches, an integral rear spoiler and subtly sculpted surfaces.

Once inside the airy cabin, there’s a plush feel, typified by plenty of soft touch materials, no shortage of kit and a nice high driving position that provides a commanding view of the road ahead. There is a seven-inch touchscreen in the central console, which I found to be very user-friendly.

Meanwhile, a screen behind the steering wheel provides all the normal information along with the current level of your battery charge and fuel consumption - a feature that draws you in and becomes somewhat addictive as you aim for maximum efficiency. The four model grades within the range - 1,2,3 and First Edition - all feature high standard specification. The level 2 grade, tested here, introduces a leather-covered steering wheel and gearshifter, black cloth and leather upholstery, privacy glass on the rear windows and reversing sensors.

It all adds up to a pleasant and stress-free driving experience. The Niro’s long, 2,700mm wheelbase and width of 1,805mm create plenty of space for five adults. In our case, we had little problem getting two adults, two children, a tent and what seemed like an endless number of bags into the vehicle as we embarked on an Easter camping trip to Devon. In terms of size, it slots into Kia’s range somewhere between the cee’d hatchback and the Sportage SUV. This version of the Niro comes in at just under £23,000, although you can bring that cost down to £21,295 for an entry-level model or part with nearly £27,000 for the top-spec variety.

All in all, it’s a good-looking vehicle which oozes practicality and offers excellent efficiency.