Motors

Kia targets Prius with new hybrid

Kia Niro

IT looks like 2016 will be a good year for Kia dealers, writes William Scholes.

A new version of the crowd-pleasing Sportage crossover is starting to make its presence felt on the road, but a more intriguing proposition is due to arrive towards the end of the year.

The Niro - like Robert, though without the De - is a hybrid crossover, a sort of hybrid utility vehicle or HUV, if you will, and it is yet another sign of Kia's ambition.

Built on a bespoke platform and designed from the ground up as a hybrid, think of the Niro as a Toyota Prius with more appealing bodywork, extra practicality and, crucially, a lower price tag.

The Niro's 89g/km CO2 emissions and EU combined fuel consumption of 73.6mpg may not be quite as impressive as the figures claimed by Toyota for the latest Prius - 70g/km and 94mpg - but Kia is aiming to have prices of its car starting at around £18,000, more than £5,000 less than the lowliest Prius.

The Niro's battery lives under the back seat and powers a 42bhp electric motor; the petrol part of the equation comes from a 1.6-litre four-cylinder unit with 102bhp.

The gearbox is a six-speed double-clutch affair, which gives the Kia an immediate advantage over the Toyota with its whiny CVT transmission.

Meanwhile, Kia also plans to have a plug-in version of its Optima saloon in showrooms around the same time that the Niro lands.

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