It’s a HUV. If you search this abbreviation on internet, you’ll probably find “Homeless Utility Vehicle”. However, it’s not the case here: the Koreans say it’s a Hybrid Utility Vehicle.
So what exactly offers the Niro? It offers an un-hybrid design, which is good. I must admit that most of the people say “hybrid cars are ugly”. No, not all of them look odd. In fact, Niro looks quite dynamic, thanks to the low roof line and short rear overhang. Surely, it’s not the most aerodynamic hybrid, with its 0.29 drag coefficient, but sometimes sacrifices are necesary. It is the first Kia to be built on the all-new eco-car platform, which will help the Koreans to triple the green car line until 2020. Later, it will receive a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Another interesting fact: unlike most of the hybrid car manufacturers, Kia spent lots of time and materials to develop a quiet interior, regardless of the increased weight of the car. They used extra insulation, body sealing, expanding foam inside the pillars, acoustic windshield glass, special foam under the carpet and dense pad underneath the hood, because comfort is a must. However, by using aluminum for the hood, tailgate and some suspension elements, the center of gravity was lowered and the weight was kept under control. More, a new, light Li-ion battery replaced the traditional heavy 12V battery, for even more weight saving.
This helps the powertrain obtain good fuel consumption and interesting dynamic performance. It is a combination of a 1.6 l GDI engine and an electric motor. The gasoline engine was especially designed to be a part of a hybrid configuration. It develops 103 hp, and it’s paired to a 43 hp transmission-mounted electric motor. Together, they produce 146 hp and 265 Nm of torque, and send them to the wheels via a dual-clutch, 6-speed automatic transmission. The 1.56-kWh Lithium Ion Polymer battery is placed under the rear seat.
Kia estimates the combined fuel consumption to be around 50 mpg (4.7 l/100km). It also promises a natural acceleration feel, unlike other hybrid system, thanks to the simple hybrid layout. You can see the Niro at Kia’s stand, during 2016 Chicago Auto Show, between 13 and 21 February.