New Zealand’s Most Economical Small SUV
By Kia Motors New Zealand Mar 13th 2018
The arrival of the new Kia Niro EX at under $40,000 delivers the most affordable hybrid SUV on the market.
But what’s equally important is that the Kia Niro has sufficient style to compete as an SUV on its own merits, without including the excellent fuel economy and lower tailpipe emissions from its high tech drivetrain.
“It doesn’t shout ‘hybrid’ to others on the road and that is an important selling factor to many people it’s a mainstream compact SUV, with plenty of attractions, including superior fuel economy,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.
“Niro is a beautifully styled and packaged SUV, very much part of the current trend with buyers globally.
“When the SUV styling is combined with the prospect of outstanding fuel consumption and very low emissions Niro is practically in a class of its own.”
The Kia Niro SUV has been designed especially for advanced fuel saving powertrain technology and is now on sale in New Zealand in two formats; a pair of Hybrid Electric Vehicle models that offer fuel consumption from 3.8L/100km and a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) that can travel up to 55km in pure EV mode, and when the petrol and electric motors are used together on the PHEV, the combined fuel economy figure is just 1.3L/100km making this model the most fuel efficient compact SUV in the country.
Kia Motors New Zealand believes the Niro is primed to succeed in this market. The company has spent the past 16 months laying the groundwork, which included importing a pair of early Hybrid models and testing these with the public and media. The result was overwhelmingly positive.
“Niro is probably the most thoroughly researched model we have ever introduced to New Zealand, it’s very important to our future here and we think it arrives at exactly the right time,” says Mr McDonald.
“There is a strong change towards vehicles that meet the lifestyle requirements of their owners and also deliver better fuel economy. With the Niro we’re demonstrating that motorists can now afford this type of vehicle, rather than a used import.”
Kia is offering the entry level Niro Hybrid EX model at special price of $34,990 + ORC, down from RRP $39,990 + ORC, during the introductory phase. The Hybrid LTD is RRP $43,990 + ORC and the PHEV LTD is RRP $55,990 + ORC. Those prices include 3 years / 45,000km free servicing, in addition to the standard 5 year / 100,000km vehicle warranty programme, 5 years roadside assistance and a 7 year / 160,000km warranty on the high voltage drive battery.
Kia’s strategy recognises current motoring trends, such as the popularity of SUV vehicles, where the aesthetics, driveability and practicality of a vehicle are paramount.
The new 5 seat Kia Niro is described as a compact SUV with a relatively long 2,700mm wheelbase that provides excellent passenger space inside the stylish cabin, particularly for those seated in the rear. The lithium-ion battery pack that powers the electric motor is housed under the seat so there is no loss of space for the rear seats.
With its aerodynamic, SUV silhouette, subtly sculptured surfaces and sharp, modern lines, the Niro is instantly recognisable as a Kia. It features Kia’s signature ‘tiger-nose’ grille, as well as the brand’s characteristically wide C pillar and a series of other signature design cues established by Kia Motors’ Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer. This includes clever integration of the LED daytime running lights that help Niro to stand out on the road.
Inside, the cabin is thoughtfully laid out, with quality materials used extensively in the dashboard and trim, alongside plush cloth or full leather upholstery on the seats, depending on the model. Kia has designed new front seats that are 1.3kg lighter than those traditionally used and they are also sculpted and more comfortable.
Weight has been trimmed from the body structure of the Niro too, with the bonnet, tailgate and various suspension and chassis components made from lighter aluminium, alongside greater use of advanced high strength steel in the rest of the vehicle.
The chassis has been designed from the outset to accommodate eco powertrains, like the hybrid technology used in the Niro.
All models, including the PHEV, feature a new 1.6 litre ‘Kappa’ GDI engine designed for this application, along with a separate electric motor. The electric motor in the Hybrid models produces 32kW, whilst the PHEV’s motor delivers 42.5kW and when combined with the petrol, the power output is 104kW combined maximum torque for all models is 265Nm. The Hybrid models have a 1.56kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack while the PHEV has an 8.9kWh battery pack to provide for electric-only operation. The PHEV model also comes with a 3.3KWh on-board charger that is fitted with 2 types of charging cables. . A full charge using a Type 2 fast charger can charge the battery pack in under 3 hours.
All models deliver their power through a highly efficient six speed dual clutch transmission with the maximum 265Nm torque available in first gear for decisive off the line acceleration.
The dual clutch transmission has been developed in-house for use with the Niro’s advanced hybrid powertrain, delivering a direct and immediate response. It can be used like a normal automatic or the driver can select the gears manually in S mode, which provides more dynamic gear changes.
Kia has engineered a new Transmission Mounted Electric Device (TMED) to allow the DCT to work best with the hybrid powertrain. The TMED allows the full output of both the engine and electric motor to be transferred in parallel through the transmission with minimal loss of energy. The application of the new TMED also allows the hybrid system to access the battery’s power directly at higher speeds, for more immediate accelerative response.
The hybrid drive system has been designed by Kia to enable both the petrol engine and electric motor to work seamlessly together to provide a rewarding driving experience, whilst saving fuel and reducing emissions. The Kia Niro Hybrid EX model fitted with 16inch alloy wheels achieves a combined fuel economy of 3.8L/100km and CO2 output of just 88g/km, while Niro PHEV model also fitted with 16 inch wheels achieves 1.3L/100kmand 29g/km respectively.
On the road, the new Kia Niro is a pleasure to drive, with its sophisticated fully independent suspension system delivering sharp handling and a comfortable ride, assisted by a low centre of gravity.
As with all Kia vehicles, safety is a priority and the Niro boasts seven airbags as standard. A range of advanced technologies to try and prevent an accident are also fitted, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Smart Cruise Control (SCC), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), with Blind Spot Detection (BSD) on the two LTD models.