• New compact SUV platform engineered uniquely for new Kia HUV
  • Hybrid powertrain developed for latest model
  • Engineers targeting sub-90 g/km CO2 and class-leading fuel efficiency
  • Production for overseas markets scheduled to start in late 2016
  • Kia aims to improve average fuel efficiency by 25% over 2014 by 2020
Kia signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille retained in this rendering

Kia signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille retained in this rendering

Kia has announced its plans to introduce an all-new low emissions vehicle to its growing model line-up. It says the 'Niro' – labelled a Hybrid Utility Vehicle (HUV) – represents a new concept from the Korean car brand, and marks the development of Kia's first dedicated eco-car platform.

Kia claims Niro will maintain all the practicality and appeal of a compact SUV, while offering greater fuel economy. The car will be engineered from the ground up as a dedicated hybrid vehicle and an all-new platform has been engineered in isolation from existing Kia models. Kia says the platform is designed to accommodate a specific set of environmentally-conscious technologies and next-generation powertrains.

Hyoung-Keun Lee, Vice Chairman & CEO, Kia Motors Corporation, said: "Our new model is designed to offer buyers everything they could want from a compact SUV in terms of practicality and styling, while providing the typically low running costs associated with a dedicated hybrid powertrain. By encouraging our engineers to take a 'blank canvas' approach, we have tried to develop a car that will appeal to a broader range of consumers."

Lee added: "The compact SUV market remains one of the fastest-growing segments around the world, and by offering a handsome styling, modern appearance, high practicality and extraordinary fuel economy, Kia's new Niro Hybrid Utility Vehicle will be the most appealing and desirable car in its class."

Kia says that Niro will boast a brand new design, with a "sporty, aerodynamic body, subtly sculptured surfaces and styling details finishing off the car's modern new look". It will include the company's signature 'tiger-nose' grille and a series of other design cues from the latest Kia products. The styling of the new Niro development project has been led by Kia's design centres in California, USA and Namyang, Korea.

Class-leading fuel economy and sub-90 g/km CO2 emissions

The main focus of the engineering teams' efforts behind the development of the new model is to deliver class-leading fuel economy in the compact SUV segment. The Kia Niro, it is claimed, will combine a stylish SUV design with greater fuel economy than its rivals, with a target CO2 emissions rating of under 90 g/km (combined, based on the New European Driving Cycle).

Throughout the Niro's development process, it has been conceived as a dedicated hybrid model. The car will achieve its low emissions levels and fuel economy with a downsized hybrid powertrain, pairing Kia's 1.6-litre 'Kappa' petrol direct injection (GDI) engine (105 ps power output and 147 Nm of torque) with a 1.56 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack and 32 kW electric motor. The powertrain's combined power output and torque will be applied to the road through a six-speed double-clutch transmission.

The platform underpinning the Niro has been engineered specifically to accommodate this next-generation petrol-electric hybrid powertrain. A plug-in hybrid powertrain is due to be added to the car's line-up later in its life-cycle.

The new car will also make extensive use of ultra-high strength steel. Part of a wider effort by Kia, the extended use of ultra-high strength steel will help Kia reach its target of a 5% reduction in the average weight of new car bodies by 2020 compared to 2014 levels.