Kia says the battery pack, which weighs 33kg, is the “lightest and most efficient” used by the manufacturer to date and it features an brake energy regeneration system.
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions have yet to be officially ratified, but Kia engineers are targeting a CO2 output of 89g/km for the Niro.
The power is fed to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). The transmission also offers a manual shifting mode.
To minimise noise, vibration and harshness, the Niro is fitted with specially designed engine mounts, equal-length driveshafts, and a damper inside the steering wheel hub to minimise vibrations felt in the steering wheel. Other NVH measures include a special embossed foam under the carpet, and a dense insulating pad underneath the bonnet also dampen noise.
Kia said it paid special attention to achieving a “seamless” feel to the transition between electric and petrol propulsion. It also focused on braking feel from the regenerative braking system, to offer “consistent and linear” braking.
The new petrol-electric platform uses 55% of Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS), including reinforcement in the A- and B-pillars as well as the roof rails, to reduce weight and increase durability. AHSS was also used to engineer other elements, including the unusual lightweight seat frames.
Engineers brought down the overall weight by using aluminium for the bonnet, tailgate and several suspension elements including the front lower control arms, front and rear knuckles, and in the brake calipers.
Detail tweaks such as a parking brake pedal made from fibre-reinforced plastic contributes to the weight savings. Kia also eliminated the traditional 12-volt battery found in conventional cars to reduce weight, instead, utilising the 1.56kWh lithium-ion polymer battery.
The battery itself is situated underneath the rear seats to maximise cabin and cargo space and allow for a flat floor in the load bay. The Niro offers 421 litres of space with the rear seats in place. The fuel tank for the petrol engine has a 45-litre capacity.
Although the Niro sports a crossover body style, Kia said it was also designed “with aerodynamics in mind” and has a drag coefficient of 0.29.
The Niro will be introduced under Kia’s EcoDynamics sub-brand, the name of which appears on many of its most frugal models.
Like the rest of Kia’s lineup, the Niro will be offered with a suite of technology including blind spot detection; adaptive cruise control; lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking.
The petrol-hybrid SUV was jointly designed by Kia’s design centres in California, USA and Namyang, Korea. It will rival a disparate group of cars when it hits UK roads in early 2017, including the Toyota Prius.
Key design details include the relatively wide stance, which Kia says conveys “stability and a low centre of gravity” and the long wheelbase, which reduces the front and rear overhangs for a more dynamic look, while also allowing for maximised interior space.
At the front Kia’s signature grille is present, flanked by aggressively shaped headlights. It also gets the flared wheel arches, rocker cladding, roof rails and a rear skid plate that are de rigeur in the crossover segment.