Kia Chooses Hybrid to Kick-Start Second Gen Niro Sales

Kia’s Niro cross-over sees its second-generation model swell in size and is unveiled as a self-charging hybrid.

While PHEV and BEV versions are planned to be unveiled before the car launches into the market, it’s the trusted ‘starter level’ electrified powertrain that takes first billing as the automaker recognizes the continued resistance among many consumers against a fully electric BEV with limited range and infrastructure hurdles yet to be overcome in many global markets.

The new hybrid powertrain features Kia’s Smartstream 1.6-liter GDI gasoline engine. The four-cylinder unit produces a maximum output of 101bhp along with 106ft-lbs of torque, while improved cooling, friction and combustion technologies claim maximum fuel efficiency. When combined with the 32kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, the HEV model produces a combined maximum power output of 138bhp.

The GDI engine is mated to the second-generation six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (6DCT) that has been carefully engineered and optimised to increase efficiency and reduce weight. This front-wheel drive model equipped with Kia’s Green Zone Drive Mode that automatically activates the electric-only drive in certain environments and situations. For example, when driving in green zones such as residential areas, or nearby schools and hospitals. The driver can also set dedicated green zones into the navigation system to reduce pollution in areas such as near their home or place of work.

Kia’s regenerative braking system enables drivers to choose from a series of regeneration levels to easily slow the car and recuperate kinetic energy to maximise driving range. The system can calculate the amount of regeneration required using radar and road gradient information.

A new suspension system features, at the front, a MacPherson strut type suspension, while the rear gets a four-link type set-up. The front and rear geometry have both been tuned for improved responsiveness, stability and ride comfort, while an optimised steering gear ratio and a new tilt-type strut bearing reduces friction to improve steering feel. Additional insulation and padding have been inserted around the vehicle’s structure to help combat unwanted engine and road noise.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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