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.