Kia's new hybrid SUV
Kia is set to begin an onslaught of new hybrid models starting with the Niro. Already touted as an 'un-hybrid' design, the Niro is as stylish as any model in the crossover and SUV segments. It will combine a four-cylinder petrol engine with a 43hp electric motor to boost power to a combined 146hp. Where the Kia Niro gets more appealing is in its emissions, which are claimed to be just 89g/km. That's supermini levels of emissions for an SUV, without the need for a costlier plug-in hybrid system.
The Niro has a sportier stance than both the Sorento and Sportage. A long wheelbase and tall roof should make the Niro look and feel spacious inside too. The first glimpse shows a new instrument layout with a larger colour TFT display screen along with traditional instruments. A more simplified centre console and multifunction steering wheel, which has a better button layout, all add to the Niro's interior appeal.
Under the skin the engineers at Kia have made extensive use of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), particularly in the A- and B-pillars to improve rigidity, while keeping overall weight down. Aluminium is used in the bonnet, tailgate and throughout many of the suspension components. Weight reduction was also key to improving the performance levels of the hybrid drivetrain. Even the traditional 12-volt battery fell victim to the weight saving, replaced by a high-voltage lithium-ion polymer battery.
Kia expects the Niro to eke out even more distance thanks to its new Eco-DAS (Driver Assistance System), which includes a Coasting Guide and Predictive Energy Control. These systems effectively coach the driver on how to make the most of the car in order to minimise fuel consumption. The Niro also uses topographical information from the satellite navigation to predict changes in gradient and actively manages the energy stored to optimise overall efficiency.
The Kia Niro is making its public debut at the Chicago Auto Show and will appear in Europe during the summer. Irish pricing and availability has yet to be confirmed.
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