- Kia’s first dedicated petrol/battery hybrid in UK
- Low-cost, high-efficiency motoring in crossover style
- All-new platform, all-new power train, auto ‘box
Kia has launched a right-hand drive version of its all-new Niro Hybrid in the UK priced from the equivalent of R405 000 (July 2016). Interested? Then read on…
It’s described by the automaker as “a compact crossover vehicle with low fuel-consumption and exhaust emissions”, claiming 3.84 litres/100km and consequently emissions of only 88g/km, way below the 120g/km tax threshold for South Africa.
Other SUV brands, among them BMW and Toyota, are already going big on importing petrol/battery hybrid vehicles into South Africa so The Corner asked Kia SA if these super-efficient cars would be coming. Their reply: “The vehicle is under consideration for South Africa but is unlikely to arrive this year (2016).”
The Niro is not, Kia says, based on any other Kia yet is a dedicated hybrid on an all-new platform which will only ever be used for battery vehicles.
“It also has an all-new power train that includes a 1.6-litre, 76kW/147Nm, internal combustion engine and a 32kW/170Nm electric motor, each driving through the six-speed double-clutch auto transmission.”
The Niro is a parallel hybrid: most of the time the petrol engine and electric motor work together. It can operate in all-electric mode for short distances when setting off, under gentle acceleration and when running downhill. A brake energy recovery system recoups energy normally dissipated as heat and stores it in the batteries for later use.
There will be no combustion engine-only version of the Niro but a plug-in hybrid version (PHEV) will be introduced during 2017.
Included in the Niro’s spex are the latest connectivity and active safety technologies, including Kia Connected Services with TomTom satnav, 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,” the automaker adds, “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 right-hand drive models for the UK has a four-model line-up badged ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and ‘First Edition’, each, Kia says, “comprehensively equipped with comfort, luxury, connectivity and driver assistance features, including DAB radio Bluetooth”.
Here’s how the models compare:
GRADE ‘1’: In addition to its connectivity and driving assistance systems this model comes with 16″ alloy wheel rims, a gloss-black radiator grille with a chromed surround, auto aircon and windscreen de-fogging, diode daytime running lights and tail lights, a nine cm TFT ‘supervision cluster’, power windows and external mirrors, USB and AUX ports and a trip-data computer.
GRADE ‘2’ adds a 19cm touchscreen satnav, reversing camera and Kia Connected Services linked to TomTom free for seven years from delivery. A leather-covered steering-wheel and gearshifter, black cloth/leather upholstery, roof rails, rear privacy glass, chromed interior and exterior door releases, reversing sensors, an under-floor boot tray, auto wipers and electrically adjustable and heatable folding door mirrors with diode turn indicators.
GRADE ‘3’ adds a 20cm touchscreen satnav, wireless phone charger and an eight-speaker audio system, 18″ alloy wheel rims, black leather upholstery, front parking sensors, heatable front seats and steering-wheel, power driver’s seat adjustment and stainless-steel sill protection.
FIRST EDITION adds auto emergency braking, blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert and smart cruise-control. It also has grey leather trim with white interior trim inserts, smart key and engine start/stop button, heatable outer rear seats, ventilated front seats and a power tilting and sliding sunroof.
Some of the above items are optional on other versions but all Niro units have a five-star Euro-NCAP crash-test rating.
Body styling, Kia says, includes an evolution of the brand’s ‘tiger-nose’ grille and broad C pillar. “A wide stance gives pointers to the car’s stability and low centre of gravity,” the automaker says, “while a long bonnet, short overhangs, elevated headlights and a rising shoulder line are other Kia hallmarks.
“The body tapers towards the rear, where bold wheel arches, a squared-off bumper with a diffuser and high-mounted C-shaped tail lights emphasise the Niro’s crossover stance.
“There is cladding beneath the front and rear bumpers, along the sides and around the wheel arches. A subtle roof spoiler aids the car’s aerodynamics.”
The car is 4.35m long, 1.80m wide and 1.54m high which puts it between the Cee’d hatchback and the latest Sportage SUV in size. The wheelbase is 2.70m.
Prices in the UK start at the equivalent of about R405 000.