RAC Cars News


Kia Niro Concept

By raccars Published

Kia is continuing to creep stealthily up upon the mainstream, but its Frankfurt bound Niro concept is a somewhat bolder manifestation of its ambitions. The rather radical looking crossover is actually designed around a solid foundation for a production car that Kia intends to use to challenge the Nissan Juke's stranglehold upon the small SUV/crossover market, along with close rivals the Renault Captur and Vauxhall Mokka.

The Kia Niro is named for the stainless steel grade, rather than the Hollywood actor. The car's pillars and roof are formed from the metal as part of a number of styling flourishes that make the concept stand out. Its profile is adventurous, yet Kia is campaigning the Niro as an urban warrior. It is compact but substantial and masculine and Kia is hoping its funky style will emulate in Europe its stablemate the Soul's success in the US.

The questing front end features high set slanting, wedge-shaped headlights and a pair of squared, centrally mounted LED DRLS, then slides in sinuous, reptilian style around to twin exhausts and a chunky rear end characterised by a couple of tow hooks for a rugged, utility feel.

The butterfly wing doors are unusual, leading to a space age cockpit with the driver and passenger seats and the centre console moulded from a single silver piece. Driving information is conveyed by a wide screen in the centre of the car topping a row of minimally styled rocker switches and two tubular grab handles that have been utilised to house driving mode and transmission switches. A sleek black and silver colourway has been highlighted with striking yellow elements for a fun, sporty look.

A minimised version of the Cee'd platform has been used again, as seen on the Soul, but not a lot has been said yet about the powertrain, with all marketing guff so far centred around the form over function. Industry rumour suggests the appropriation of hybrid technology from the brand's earlier, misguided Provo concept, meaning a turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol unit driving the font wheels and an electric motor powering the rear. Combined output should be around 246bhp and four wheel drive will be available on an on-demand basis.

With the brand's ageing Venga MPV likely to reach the end of its useful life span in the next couple of years, expect the three door Niro crossover to be ready to take its place in 2015, when it really could shake things up in its market segment.

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