Combining the styling of a compact crossover with the efficiency of a hybrid vehicle, the all-new Kia Niro is now on sale, priced from £21,295.
With CO2 emissions as low as 88g/km and fuel economy of up to 74.3mpg, the Niro will help Kia meet its pledge to reduce the average emissions of its range by 25 per cent before 2020.
The Niro is not based on any other Kia but is a dedicated hybrid model with an all-new platform and an all-new powertrain: a 1.6-litre, 104bhp internal combustion engine mated to a 43.5bhp electric motor driving through a six-speed double-clutch automatic transmission.
At 4,355mm long, 1,805mm wide and 1,535mm tall (1,545 with roof rails), the compact Niro sits between the cee'd hatchback and the Sportage SUV in size. Despite its crossover design, Kia claims a class-leading drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.29.
The interior includes the latest connectivity and active safety technologies, including Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom, wireless smartphone charging, autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control and lane-keeping, blind spot and rear cross traffic warning systems. In a first for Kia, it also offers Android Auto, which links Android smartphones to Google Maps navigation, Google Play music, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition via pre-downloaded apps.
The Niro comes to the UK in a four-model line-up badged ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’. Every version has a Lane Keep Assist System, Hill-start Assist Control, Cruise Control and a Speed Limiter as well as a DAB radio plus Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and music streaming.
While the powertrain pairs a petrol engine with an electric motor like the majority of hybrids, drive to the front wheels is through a six-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox (6DCT) rather than the more commonly favoured continuously variable transmission (CVT). Kia says this gives more direct and immediate response with greater refinement, and incorporates a Manual Sports mode to allow keener drivers to select gears manually.
The petrol engine is a new 1.6-litre direct-injection (GDI) unit, specifically engineered for use in hybrid cars, which develops 104bhp and 147Nm of torque. It’s paired with a 32kW (43.5bhp) electric motor developing 170Nm of torque and powered by a 1.56kWh lithium-ion polymer battery. Combined, the two power units produce 139bhp, with 265Nm of torque available in first gear for rapid acceleration from standstill.
The Niro is a parallel hybrid, which means that most of the time the petrol and electric power units work together. However, it can operate in all-electric mode for short distances when setting off, under gentle acceleration and when descending slopes or braking. A brake energy recovery system recoups energy normally dissipated as heat and stores it in the batteries for use later. The switch between all-electric, hybrid or petrol engine-only modes varies according to the load being placed on the powertrain at any given time.
As with all Kias sold in the UK, the Niro comes with a seven-year or 100,000-mile warranty, subject to wear and tear conditions. The warranty is fully transferable should the car be sold before the time or mileage limits have been reached.
On sale now, the prices range from £21,295 to £26,995 on-the-road. Kia says a plug-in hybrid version (PHEV) will be introduced for the 2017 model year.