The Kia Niro concept was shown at Chicago Auto Show last week, bringing with it the first hybrid powertrain to be stuffed into a B-segment Kia.
A press release from Kia said the Kia Niro hints at a possible future B-segment contender. The B-segment is made up of small cars. In Kia’s American lineup at present, the Kia Rio fills the B-segment slot.
Kia Design Center Europe Chief Designer Gregory Guillaume said, “Ten years ago people wanted understated style in the SUV market, but increasingly, as more people migrate to the B-segment, they are looking for strong character and individuality. It may have the looks of a Dakar [Rally] contender, but Niro has a strong premium feel thanks to our innovative use of advanced and modern materials that mix brawn with spirit to deliver a playful vehicle ready to be part of anyone’s active lifestyle.”
According to the release, the Kia Niro features the brand’s first B-segment use of hybrid powertrain goodies. Powered by a version of Kia’s Gamma 1.6-liter engine capable of producing 160 horsepower, the Kia Niro’s front wheels are driven by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while its rear wheels are driven by an electric motor system that derives its power from regenerative braking. The electric hybrid system is capable of delivering up to 45 horsepower to the rear wheels, according to Kia, and will only become active when road conditions demand the extra grip.
The interior of the Kia Niro sounds pretty cool, to hear Kia’s take on it, getting a set of fully adjustable pedals for the driver as well as Kia’s Supervision digital instrument cluster. A center-mounted information screen can display a range of information including Bluetooth connectivity functions, altitude, and satellite navigation. According to the automaker, the screen also allows the driver to see and record live pictures from video cameras mounted at the front, rear, sides and within the vehicle. Say hello to your OEMGoPro system.
Outside, the Kia Niro cuts a mean figure. Riding on a 102-inch wheelbase and a 64.2-inch track, the crossover features so-called “butterfly” doors not unlike the doors on the Lamborghini you had plastered on your wall as a youth. It rides on 225/40R20 tires.