Cameras captured Kia testing a prototype of its Niro Hybrid SUV on Germany’s Nurburgring racetrack this week.
Kia first introduced the Niro Hybrid in September 2013, and then showed it once more at the Chicago Auto Show a year later. Nothing else has been heard on the Niro from the Korean carmaker in the past 15 months.
That changed this week when Autoevolution.com’s camera’s caught the prototype putting in test runs on the track.
“At one point, an electric mode was even used,” said Autoevolution.com’s Mihnea Radu. “The ‘GG HY 255’ number plates have been registered as a hybrid, but we don’t know which type of engine or drive is used.”
When Kia showed the Niro Hybrid in Chicago, it was powered by a 1.6-liter “Gamma” engine. This 160 horsepower engine turned the front wheels, while a 45 horsepower electric system powered the rear wheels, giving the Niro Hybrid four-wheel drive.
One of the standout features from Chicago’s concept was the Niro’s butterfly doors. However, it’s difficult to see if Kia transferred this design from the concept to the prototype.
While Kia hasn’t announced any further plans for the Niro Hybrid, Radu said to “expect a full unveil to happen in early 2016.”