Kia Teases Prius-fighting Hybrid Niro

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole
kia teases prius fighting hybrid niro

Kia on Monday released teaser images of its Prius-fighting hybrid, dubbed Niro, and said the car would go on sale late next year — maybe when gas prices aren’t $2 a gallon.

According to the automaker, the Niro’s hybrid powertrain and lightweight construction could help the car achieve up to 60 miles per gallon when it goes on sale. A plug-in variant will go on sale after a conventional hybrid arrives in 2016.

The car is positioned to fight directly against the next-generation Toyota Prius, which will go on sale later this year. It isn’t immediately clear whether the car is pronounced “NEE-ro” (like the Roman emperor) or “NY-ro” (rhymes with Cairo) because one of those would be an interesting choice.

Kia’s compact crossover will sport a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with direct injection from Hyundai’s Kappa family paired with a 1.56 kWh lithium-polymer battery and 32 kW electric motor. Kia didn’t specify the combined output of both motors, but did say that power would be shifted through a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

Niro will be built on an all-new platform for Kia at its Hwasung manufacturing facility in Korea, according to the automaker. Although the car has no direct predecessors, officials at Kia say the car will be instantly recognizable as a Kia, in part, because of the company’s signature “tiger nose” grille. (Which is good, because that sketch looks like a Ford Edge —Aaron) Kia’s design center in California contributed to the Niro’s overall design.

According to the automaker, the Niro was developed separately from any other Kia model, but its powertrain could make its way into several future models.

Don’t expect to see Niro in the flesh in Los Angeles. Kia has its Forte compact lined up for its post-plastic-surgery reveal this week instead.

In 2013, Kia previewed a Niro Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show that looks vaguely familiar.

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  • ClutchCarGo ClutchCarGo on Nov 16, 2015

    "It isn’t immediately clear whether the car is pronounced “NEE-ro” (like the Roman emperor) or “NY-ro” (rhymes with Cairo)" It will be pronounced however the hell we decide to pronounce it, no matter what Kia tries to tell us.

  • SC5door SC5door on Nov 16, 2015

    The "Prius fighter" is going to be coming from Hyundai. This is a CUV hybrid.

  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.
  • Wjtinfwb I've seen worse on the highways around Atlanta, usually with a refrigerator or washer wedged into the trunk and secured with recycled twine...
  • Wjtinfwb Surprising EB Flex hasn't weighed in yet on it being the subject of a recall...