In hybrid form, the new Kia Niro is more efficient, more comfortable and offers more technology than the car it replaces. It’s expected to reach Australia later this year.
Kia has released further details of the new-generation 2023 Kia Niro, ahead of its Australian launch expected in the third quarter of 2022 (July to September).
Debuted in a series of official images in November 2021, the new Niro – which replaces the first-generation model that has been on sale overseas since 2016 (but only in Australia for less than 12 months) – will retain its predecessor’s choice of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and all-electric powertrains.
Kia has only detailed the ‘conventional’ hybrid variant thus far, which pairs a 77kW/144Nm 1.6-litre non-turbo four-cylinder petrol engine with a 32kW electric motor for a combined output of 104kW. It drives the front wheels through an upgraded six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
While keen-eyed readers will note the new Niro Hybrid’s outputs are identical to those of its predecessor, the 1.6-litre engine now belongs to the Hyundai group’s new and more efficient ‘SmartStream’ family, while the transmission has been upgraded for improved efficiency and lower weight.
Kia claims a fuel economy figure (according to stringent South Korean testing) of as low as 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s an improvement over the outgoing Niro Hybrid, which quotes 5.0L/100km in the city, or 5.1L/100km combined – down four to six per cent, aided by a reduced drag coefficient of 0.29.
The current model claims a combined economy figure of 3.8L/100km in Australia – suggesting the new Niro could become one of Australia’s most efficient new cars, approaching the Toyota Yaris city car’s 3.3L/100km claim.
Plug-in hybrid and electric Niro variants will offer a ‘Green Zone’ function that enables the car’s all-electric driving mode when it enters a busy residential area, or approaches a school or hospital. All models will offer regenerative braking, switchable between multiple regeneration levels.
As reported, the new Kia Niro draws styling inspiration from the HabaNiro concept of 2019, with buyers able to choose between six contrasting colours for the (rear-most) C-pillars, in addition to three body cladding colours, and a selection of main body colours, including Cityscape Green, Snow White Pearl, Aurora Black Pearl, Mineral Blue, Interstella Gray, Orange Delight, Runway Red and Steel Gray.
Inside, front-seat occupants are presented with a pair of 10.25-inch displays for infotainment and instrumentation duties, integrated into one curved panel stretching across much of the dashboard, akin to Kia’s larger EV6 and Sportage models.
Interior highlights include 74-colour ambient LED cabin lighting, multi-zone climate control, a 10-inch colour head-up display, a rotary ‘shift-by-wire’ gear selector, wireless smartphone charging, and USB-C ports. A power tailgate is also available.
Other tech features on offer include a new Voice Car Control system with an improved voice assistant, the ability to use the driver’s phone as a key to unlock and start the car (without the key fob present), support for a Kia Connect smartphone app (though likely not in Australia), interior cameras to “record high quality videos of memorable journeys and scenic locations”, and the ability to control smart home devices from the car’s touchscreen.
Available in Charcoal, Medium Grey, and Petrol/Light Warm Grey colour combinations, the new Niro’s interior is home to an assortment of recycled materials, including recycled wallpaper for the headlining, and BTX-free (water-based) paint for the door panels.
The seats are made from “Bio PU with Tencel from eucalyptus leaves”, according to Kia, with the front pews offering USB-C ports in the seatbacks, rear-mounted coat hangers, and storage pockets. The passenger seat offers a ‘relaxation’ recline mode.
Under the skin, the new Kia Niro rides on the “third-generation” platform shared with the Hyundai i30 Sedan, and gains updated suspension and steering systems for improved driving dynamics and comfort.
The new Niro measures 4420mm long, 1825mm wide and 1545mm high, with a 2720mm wheelbase – 65mm longer overall, 20mm wider, 10mm taller and 20mm longer in wheelbase than the car it replaces. A repositioned 12-volt battery sees boot space increase to 415 litres (VDA), up 15L.
The full array of active safety features is on offer, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian/cyclist detection and support for intersections, low-speed rear AEB, driver attention warning, auto high beam, Safe Exit Assist, front and rear parking sensors, and traffic sign recognition.
The adaptive cruise control and lane following assist systems combine to form one ‘Highway Driving Assist’ semi-autonomous driving system – accelerating, braking and centring the Niro within its lane on the motorway – while the onboard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems are able to both detect and brake for obstacles.
Remote Smart Parking Assist – shared with the larger Sportage and Sorento – allows owners to move their Niro forwards or backwards into a parking space from the key fob, while standing outside the vehicle.
The 2023 Kia Niro will go on sale in South Korea this month, ahead of an Australian launch expected in the third quarter of 2022 (July to September).
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