Kia announced its plans to introduce an all-new low emissions vehicle to its growing model line-up. The Niro – labelled a Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV) – represents a new concept from the Korean car brand, and marks the development of Kia’s first dedicated eco-car platform.
Niro will maintain all the practicality and appeal of a compact SUV, while offering greater fuel economy. Engineered from the ground up as a dedicated hybrid vehicle, its attractive, modern styling will help the car stand out in a traditionally conservative sector.
The Niro’s all-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.
Hyoung-Keun Lee, Vice Chairman & CEO, Kia Motors Corporation, commented, “Our new model is designed to offer buyers everything they could want from a compact SUV in terms of practicality and styling, while providing the typically low running costs associated with a dedicated hybrid powertrain. By encouraging our engineers to take a ‘blank canvas’ approach, we have tried to develop a car that will appeal to a broader range of consumers.”
Lee added, “The compact SUV market remains one of the fastest-growing segments around the world, and by offering a handsome styling, modern appearance, high practicality and extraordinary fuel economy, Kia’s new Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle will be the most appealing and desirable car in its class.”
A new addition to Kia’s design-led product range, the Kia Niro will boast a brand new design, with a sporty, aerodynamic body, subtly sculptured surfaces and styling details finishing off the car’s modern new look. While the Niro is an all-new model, with no direct predecessors, it is still immediately recognisable as a Kia, carrying forward the company’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille and a series of other design cues from the latest Kia products. The styling of the new Niro development project has been led by Kia’s design centres in California, USA and Namyang, Korea.
Sporting a compact SUV shape, the car’s designers highlight the most modern architectural designs and contemporary sculptural art as key inspirations behind the new HUV’s body. The vehicle boasts smooth, sleek proportions, while its relatively wide stance portrays stability and a low center of gravity. The long wheelbase minimises the size of the front and rear overhangs, while ensuring occupants enjoy the maximum possible interior space.
The main focus of the engineering teams’ efforts behind the development of the new model is to deliver class-leading fuel economy in the compact SUV segment. The Kia Niro will combine a stylish SUV design with greater fuel economy than its rivals, with a target CO2 emissions rating of under 90 g/km (combined, based on the New European Driving Cycle).
Throughout the Niro’s development process, it has been conceived as a dedicated hybrid model. The car will achieve its ultra-low emissions levels and impressive fuel economy with a downsized hybrid powertrain, pairing Kia’s 1.6-litre ‘Kappa’ petrol direct injection (GDI) engine (105 ps power output and 147 Nm of torque) with a 1.56 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and 32 kW electric motor. The powertrain’s combined power output and torque will be applied to the road through a highly-efficient six-speed double-clutch transmission.
The platform underpinning the Niro has been engineered specifically to accommodate this next-generation petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is due to be added to the car’s line-up later in its life-cycle.
Based upon a bespoke new platform, the Kia Niro’s body is made of more than 50% ultra-high strength steel, contributing to the class-leading fuel economy and high safety ratings that development teams are targeting. Part of a wider effort by Kia, the extended use of ultra-high strength steel will help Kia reach its target of a 5% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies by 2020 compared to 2014 levels.
With a strong, lightweight body, the Niro will build on Kia’s reputation for producing cars with a strong crash safety performance. The company’s engineering teams are targeting the highest possible marks from independent safety test organisations around the world, aided by a host of the latest passive, active and pre-collision safety features Kia has to offer.
The high-strength platform will not only result in a high safety rating, but also help minimise noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), a key focus throughout the Niro’s conception. The strong body also enables Kia’s chassis and dynamics experts to give the car a smooth, refined ride and engaging handling characteristics.
The development of an all-new platform and bespoke powertrain for the Niro will contribute to the brand’s ambition to becoming a leader in the low emissions car market by 2020. In the next five years, Kia will expand its current green car line-up from the four current models to 11, and is targeting a 25% improvement to average corporate fuel efficiency over 2014 levels.
This expanded range of low-emissions vehicles will encompass a wide range of advanced powertrains, from hybrids and plug-in hybrids to battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. The Niro will be among the first of Kia’s new models to be designed, engineered and produced as part of this plan.
As well as investment in advanced propulsion technologies, by 2020 Kia will also replace seven out of its 10 current engine ranges with next-generation petrol and diesel units, while increasing the number of turbocharged engines. Higher-efficiency, multi-speed transmissions are also planned, while Kia engineers are targeting a 5% reduction in in the average weight of new car bodies through greater application of ultra-high strength steel.
The Kia Niro hybrid is on sale now from £21,295.
This post is sponsored by Kia Motors, however the opinions are of the author.