Niro is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid and first ever hybrid in the UK, and it enters a European market that is expected to reach 700,000 sales a year by 2020. Niro is priced from £21,295 to £26,995 and features a UK-specific four-model line-up with ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’ grades. A plug-in hybrid PHEV version will join the line-up in 2017.
Niro is underpinned by an all-new platform that has been developed exclusively for electric cars. Advanced high-strength steel makes up 53 per cent of the chassis, while numerous components including bonnet, tailgate panel and front bumper back beam are made from weight-saving aluminium for an impressive 1,500kg kerb weight. Batteries are located beneath the rear seats for a low centre of gravity and uncompromised packaging.
Niro combines the practicality and showroom appeal of a crossover with the fuel efficiency of a hybrid, delivering fuel economy of up to 74.3mpg with CO2 emissions from 88g/km. Niro’s petrol-electric hybrid powertrain combines a new 104bhp version of Kia’s 1.6-litre Kappa direct-injection engine supported a 32kW (43bhp) electric motor for a combined output of 139bhp and 265Nm of torque.
As well as an Atkinson cycle combustion process to make greater use of energy with lower heat losses, the long-stroke Kappa engine features direct injection, cooled exhaust gas recirculation and exhaust heat recovery to further enhance efficiency. The hybrid drive and brake energy recovery systems work together, but Niro also has the ability to run in all-electric mode for short distances in some circumstances.
A 6DCT six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox channels power to the front wheels. With the option of Manual Sports driving mode, it delivers a more dynamic driver experience than the CVT continuously variable transmission systems used by a number of other manufacturers. New low-friction bearings and low-viscosity oils enhance mechanical proficiency, while the electric motor is incorporated directly into the transmission for even greater efficiency.
At 4,355mm long, 1,805mm wide and 1,545mm high, Niro sits between the cee'd hatchback and Sportage SUV. It’s long 2,700mm wheelbase results in generous onboard accommodation for five adults and their luggage. A low drag coefficient, of Cd 0.29 (with fitted roof rails) and extensive measures to reduce noise, vibration and harshness ensure impressive refinement in all driving conditions. Signature design cues like 'tiger-nose' grille ensure Niro is easily recognisable as a Kia.
Niro rides on a MacPherson strut front and sophisticated multi-link rear suspension layout that has been meticulously tuned to deliver the optimal balance between comfort, stability and control. With 2.66 turns between locks, the MDPS motor-driven power steering is direct and responsive and features electric, while ventilated front and solid rear brake discs deliver excellent braking performance.
Niro’s intelligently-configured cabin features a split dashboard layout, with the upper display area complemented by the lower uncluttered control area. This horizontal format, highlighted by the dashboard trim line emphasises the cabin’s width and spaciousness, and this sense of wellbeing is enhanced by the extensive use of tactile soft-touch plastics and supportive new lightweight front seats. Under-seat battery positioning allows for a capacious 427-litre boot (373-litres with luggage undertray) with uninterrupted rectangular shape and low loading lip.
Like all Kia models. Niro is equipped with an extensive range of safety features and driver aids, including the following: Autonomous Emergency Braking, Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure and Blind Spot Detection, Lane Keeping Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Niro’s technology highlights include wireless mobile phone charging; Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom for speed camera, weather, traffic and local point-of-interest information; Android Auto, with access to Google Maps navigation, Google Play music, hands-free calls, texts and voice recognition through smartphone apps; standard-fit DAB radio; and the option of a 320-watt JBL sound system.