Niro Hybrid Concept Hints At Future B-Segment Kia

Kia’s Niro hybrid urban lifestyle concept vehicle unveiled last September at the Frankfurt Motor Show made its U.S. debut at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show.

Kia explained the Niro hints at a possible future B-segment contender ready to take on the city environment with style and fun-to-drive attitude. The rally raid-like Niro also expands on Kia’s alternative propulsion story with its hybrid electric powertrain working through a four-wheel drive system.

“Ten years ago people wanted understated style in the SUV market, but increasingly, as more people migrate to the B-segment, they are looking for strong character and individuality,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer, Kia Design Center Europe.  “It may have the looks of a Dakar [Rally] contender, but Niro has a strong premium feel thanks to our innovative use of advanced and modern materials that mix brawn with spirit to deliver a playful vehicle ready to be part of anyone’s active lifestyle.”

Kia added the Niro may be a designers’ eye view of a future B-segment contender, but that doesn’t mean it is a pure flight of fancy.  This concept comes with a variant of Kia’s turbocharged 1.6-liter “Gamma” engine good for 160 horsepower. The engine and a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission serve the front wheels while an electric hybrid system powered by regenerative braking delivers up to 45 horsepower to the rear wheels when road conditions require extra grip.