The Kia Niro, which made its European debut at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show, in early March, is a new low-emissions hybrid crossover. It also marks the development of Kia’s first dedicated eco-car platform.
The Kia Niro offers the practicality and curbside appeal of a spacious crossover, together with the high fuel efficiency of an advanced hybrid powertrain. Engineered from the ground up as a dedicated hybrid vehicle, its attractive, modern design will help the car stand out among conservatively-styled hybrid rivals.
The Niro’s new platform has been engineered in isolation from existing Kia models, and is designed to accommodate a specific set of environmentally-conscious technologies and next-generation powertrains.
The Niro’s hybrid powertrain – made up of a 1.6-litre GDI (petrol direct injection) engine, lithium-ion polymer battery pack, 32 kW electric motor and six-speed double-clutch transmission – emits just 88 g/km CO2 (combined), and is capable of using just 3.8 litres of gasoline for every 100 km of driving.
Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe, told us, “The Kia Niro offers buyers a compelling blend of crossover practicality with the cool, modern styling for which Kia is famous, and an efficient new hybrid powertrain to keep running costs down. The Niro fills a gap in the market for a crossover with typically low hybrid emissions, and will appeal to a broad range of European buyers.”
Cole added: “Hybrid sales have more than doubled in Europe over the last five years, and are forecast to account for around 700,000 sales in Europe by 2020. The Niro will allow Kia to meet this growing demand for alternatively-fuelled vehicles, and help us meet our 2020 global target to improve average fleet fuel efficiency by 25% over 2014 levels.”
A new addition to Kia’s design-led product range, and without precedent in the Kia line-up, the Kia Niro boasts a brand new form. The styling of the Niro was led by Kia’s design centres in California, USA and Korea. It incorporates the practicality and aesthetic allure of a compact crossover, with a sleek, aerodynamic body and subtly sculptured surfaces. Those features combine with a crossover-inspired silhouette and sharp modern lines.
Nevertheless, the Niro is instantly recognisable as a Kia. The new model bears the latest evolution of Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille, as well as the brand’s characteristically wide C-pillar and a series of other signature design cues.
Sporting a compact SUV shape, the Niro’s proportions include a relatively wide stance which portrays stability and a low centre of gravity. With a relatively long bonnet, short overhangs, elevated headlamps and rising shoulder line, the Niro’s athletic crossover stance represents a shift away from other hybrid cars on the market today.
Designed principally for efficient aerodynamic performance, the Niro’s body allows for a low drag coefficient of just 0.29 Cd – making it more aerodynamic than many other hybrid rivals.
Its relatively long wheelbase (2,700 mm) and short front and rear overhangs (870 and 785 mm, respectively) also ensure occupants enjoy generous interior space.
The Kia Niro occupies a new space within the brand’s model line-up in terms of its size. The Niro is 4,355 mm in length, 1,805 mm wide and 1,535 mm tall, making it smaller overall than the all-new Kia Sportage, though occupying a larger footprint than the cee’d hatchback.
For Europe, the Kia Niro will be available with a choice of 10 colours, and buyers can choose from a selection of 16- or 18-inch alloy wheel designs.