What is it?
Underneath that cladding lies the Kia Niro, a new high-riding hybrid SUV that has been developed on a bespoke platform so that the ambitious Korean firm can start eating into the eco leadership established by the likes of the Toyota Prius.
Indeed, the Kia Niro is described by its maker as a cross between the practicality and styling of the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and VW Tiguan and the economy and image of the Toyota Prius. As such, Kia insists it has no rivals and therefore occupies its own space; it has even invented the Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV) name for this sector – although it looks very much like a jacked up soft-roader to us.
In size, it sits between the Kia Soul and Kia Sportage, although if you’re unfamiliar with them then think of it as an eco-friendly rival to the Ford C-Max, or as a more conventional hybrid rival to the UK’s best-selling electrified vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (a plug-in Niro will follow at a later date).
Thankfully, it’s significance goes well beyond a dreamed-up new sector. Sitting on a bespoke platform developed by parent company Hyundai, the Niro spearheads a push by Kia take its electrified vehicle line-up from four cars today to 11 by 2020. With sales of alternatively fuelled cars expected to triple by then, to more than six million cars a year, it’s not hard to understand why Kia is launching this car now.