The Korean automaker has already unveiled the broad outlines of the second generation of its “green” crossover, the Niro, which offers three powertrain choices: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric. However, since the unveiling of the new model earlier in the fall of 2021, there has been radio silence on the technical features of this second version of the model.
Kia has finally released a few more details about the hybrid livery, the urban utility vehicle that should in principle make its North American debut before the end of the year as a 2023 model of course. We’ll have to wait a little longer to find out the technical details of the other two versions.
Right off the bat, beyond the very splashy design of this second-generation model – the 2023 Kia Niro takes several styling cues from the HabaNiro concept unveiled in 2019 – we learn that the new variant is growing in every way. Obviously, the crossover remains similar to the outgoing model, but to appeal to a customer base that always wants more, the Niro needs to be more accommodating inside.
Under the hood, the small 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine combined with a 32 kW electric motor and battery pack delivers 139 horsepower and 195 lb-ft, exactly what the current Niro offers. This status quo sounds disappointing, but Kia says the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission has been reworked for better performance. Engineers also made a point of redesigning the suspension and steering to improve the Niro’s comfort. A road test in due course will tell us more.
The interior has also been redesigned for this 2.0 version, with the dashboard now housing a large 10.25-inch-wide touch screen in the center, while the screen behind the steering wheel is slightly smaller at 10 inches wide. The center console houses other useful functions such as the start button, shift knob for the transmission, power brake and heated seats. Other shortened – and tactile – buttons are installed under the center air vents.
Kia hasn’t released fuel economy figures yet, but expect the Niro to be a bit more fuel-efficient at the pump, thanks in part to a “Green Zone” driving mode that automatically shuts off the engine when the navigation system detects green zones, which the driver can determine in advance. However, unlike the plug-in hybrid version, you can’t expect to go very far in electric mode, as is very often the case with hybrid vehicles.
One thing is for sure with this second version of the Niro, Kia has not finished making a name for itself with a very original design and a fuel efficiency that appeals to consumers who prefer to stay away from gas stations.