The five-door, five-seater Niro PHEV was the world's first compact crossover plug-in hybrid. The sleek crossover profile has a low drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.30, while extensive use of high-strength steel and aluminium in the body construction helps to trim the minimum kerb weight to 1,594kg. Both are significant factors in the Niro PHEV's low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
The design features the subtly sculpted surfaces and sharp lines that instantly mark the Niro PHEV out as a modern Kia, and includes the latest evolution of the brand's 'tiger-nose' grille as well as the familiar broad C-pillar. A wide stance gives pointers to the car's stability and low centre of gravity, while a long bonnet, short overhangs, elevated headlights and a rising shoulder line are other Kia hallmarks. The body tapers towards the rear, where bold wheel arches, a squared-off bumper with a diffuser section and high-mounted C-shaped tail lights emphasise its dynamic stance. The car's crossover credentials are further highlighted by body cladding beneath the front and rear bumpers, along the sides and around the wheel arches. A subtle roof spoiler aids the car's aerodynamics.
Standard advanced driver assistance pack include Autonomous Emergency Braking with Smart Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Hill-start Assist Control and a Speed Limiter. There is an 8.0-inch touchscreen navigation system with European mapping, a reversing camera and Kia Connected Services featuring TomTom. This provides up-to-the-minute information on traffic hold-ups, weather, speed camera locations and local points of interest. Kia Connected Services is free for seven years from the time the car is bought. A wireless mobile phone charger and an eight-speaker JBL Premium sound system with a 320-watt external amplifier are also standard alongside a DAB radio and Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and music streaming.
The Niro PHEV features Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which allow smartphones to be paired with the car via pre-downloaded apps. Android Auto works with Android smartphones running 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher and gives access to a variety of services such as Google Maps navigation, Google Play music, hands-free calls and texts and voice recognition. Apple CarPlay functions with iPhone 5 or newer and enables full Siri voice control of the phone's apps and functions while linking the car to Apple Maps, calls and text dictation, music streaming and audiobooks.
The Kia Niro plug-in hybrid (PHEV) has the potential fuel economy of well over 200mpg and CO2 emissions of just 29g/km, which is easily Kia’s most efficient car to feature a combustion engine ever. The Niro PHEV will be a cornerstone of Kia's drive to reduce the average CO2 emissions of its range by 25 per cent, based on 2014 figures, by 2020. It was the first plug-in hybrid compact crossover to go on sale in the UK.
The Niro PHEV features the 1.6-litre direct-injection petrol engine and the combustion engine is paired with a more powerful 44.5kW (60bhp) electric motor supported by a larger 8.9kWh battery pack to extend the car's range on electric power alone. The Niro PHEV is capable of travelling up to 36 miles on the energy stored in its batteries, which means many owners will be able to complete their daily commute without using a drop of petrol or producing any tailpipe emissions.
The Niro PHEV is equipped with a number of technological innovations to help it use the power in its battery pack in the most efficient way and top up its batteries on the move.
Sophisticated technologies include regenerative braking, a driving style guide, an ECO-DAS (ECOnomy Driver Assistance System) featuring Coasting Guide Control, a Drive Mode Select button so that drivers can personalise the powertrain's dynamics, and an HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) Select switch. It also has an intelligent heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system to save battery power.
HEV Select gives access to two driving modes via a button located in the centre console. In EV (charge depletion) mode the car runs as a purely electric vehicle when the energy stored in the batteries is adequate, and is able to regenerate electrical power on the move to recharge the batteries. HEV (charge sustaining) mode allows the powertrain to balance the use of motor and petrol engine for a seamless combination of electric and internal combustion power. In this mode, a greater proportion of propulsion comes from the petrol engine and the charge level of the batteries is constantly being topped up for later use.
Kia's regenerative braking system allows the car to harvest kinetic energy – energy created by motion – to top up the batteries when coasting or braking.
It is linked to Coasting Guide Control (CGC), which takes information from the navigation system so that the car can anticipate road conditions to reduce energy use and identify opportunities to harvest additional electrical power through coasting. CGC alerts drivers to the best time to lift off the accelerator and coast towards a junction, allowing energy to be regenerated. It also means the driver can brake later and maintain momentum when traffic conditions allow, reducing the likelihood of the need to stop at a junction or traffic lights. CGC can improve fuel economy by up to 3 per cent.