Aerodynamic considerations posed many challenges for the teams tasked with Niro's packaging. It was determined early on that Niro would be a compact hybrid crossover – shorter than the Sportage SUV, but longer than the cee'd hatchback. There had to be a limit on height to reduce drag, but this was not to be at the expense of a raised seating position. And space, versatility, ease of entrance and visibility were not to suffer in any way. The result is one of Kia's most efficiently packaged cars ever.
Thanks to the long, 2,700mm wheelbase there is generous space for five people. There is up to 1,059mm of legroom in the front and 950mm in the rear; the class-leading headroom of up to 1,018mm in front and 993mm behind is greater than in many C-segment SUVs; and the 1,805mm wide body provides 1,423mm of shoulder room for the two front occupants and only slightly less, at 1,402mm, in the rear. At the same time there is 427 litres of luggage space (373 litres with luggage undertray), even with all five seats occupied, thanks to the location of the battery pack beneath the rear seat. This expands to 1,425 litres (1,371 with undertray) with the 60:40 split rear seats folded. The 45-litre fuel tank is located alongside the battery pack beneath the rear seat.
The ergonomic fascia and information clusters follow what is becoming a modern theme for Kia, starting with a wide dashboard set out on horizontal lines, as in the new Optima and Sportage. There is an upper display sector with the instrument panel and infotainment screen set at the same height for instant, easier reading, separated by a cabin-wide trim line from the lower control area, where the heating and ventilation and driver assistance switches are located.
Inside the cabin, every last nook and cranny has been used for storage of personal items, and in grades ‘3’ and the ‘First Edition’ model there is a tray for wireless charging of mobile devices.
Niro has a foot-operated parking brake to release more space for oddments in the centre console, and is fitted in the UK with a tyre mobility kit rather than a spare wheel to reduce weight and so that the boot can be as large as possible. Space-saving front seats with special foam-backed covers and slim headrests contribute to the exceptional five-seat space of Niro and also save 1.3kg each thanks to their high-strength steel frames, yet they are still able to cushion occupants against bumps and vibrations as a result of high-density cushions and profiled springs and pads.
There is smart black upholstery on grades ‘1’ to ‘3’ (cloth, cloth and leather or all leather), light grey headlining, a 3.5-inch TFT supervision cluster on the ‘1’ and 4.2- inch TFT supervision cluster on all higher grades, high-gloss black inserts in the steering wheel, dashboard and door panels from the second grade upwards. All but the entry-level model also has a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearshifter, a 7- or 8-inch touchscreen navigation system and chrome interior door handles. The range-topping First Edition model has stone grey leather upholstery and high-gloss white steering wheel, dashboard and door panel inserts, plus stainless steel pedals.