This is the Kia Niro concept, the Korean manufacturer’s answer to the fast-selling Nissan Juke crossover. It has been revealed at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show and a production version could go on sale in less than two years.
The name Niro refers to a type of stainless steel – a nod towards the lightweight stainless steel section covering the roof and surrounding the windows. This should help keep emissions down, boosting fuel economy and lowering running costs.
The three-door crossover is still a concept at this stage, but our sources have revealed a production model could go on sale by 2015. That would give Kia a contender in the booming small SUV segment and effectively taking the place of the Venga MPV in the line-up, which isn’t expected to be replaced.
Like the new Kia Soul, which also made its debut at the Frankfurt show, the Niro is based on a shrunken version of the new Kia Cee’d platform, and according to Kia will be fitted with an “innovative new powertrain.” Sources say this could be a powerful 1.6-litre GDI petrol engine mated to the front wheels, with an electric motor to power the rear wheels. The result could be as much as 246bhp and on-demand four-wheel drive – a similar set up to the provo concept, revealed at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.
Kia has also confirmed that if the Niro makes production, an efficient 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine is expected to join the line-up.
The dramatic styling picks up where Kia’s latest models left off, featuring a slim tiger-nose grille, wide-set headlights and cube-shaped quad-LED daytime running lights taken from the Kia Cee’d GT. At the rear twin exhausts, LED taillights and a pair of tow hooks create a sporty and rugged look.
We spoke to designer Gregory Guillaume, in Frankfurt, who told us his inspiration behind the stylish crossover was the Paris-Dakar rally-winning Porsche 959 from the 1980s: “I love the idea of a supercar on stilts, and the Niro has the same super-dynamic look at the Dakar-winning 959.”
Supercar-style scissor doors swing open to reveal a striking interior that combines a single moulding for the front seats and centre console. A wide central screen with a row of rocker switches below it is also visible, while two grab handles have the gearbox and driving mode switches built in.
As it’s a concept, prices and full specs have not been announced, but we expect the Niro to match the more conventional Cee’d in terms of equipment and options. This means all cars should get Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning and cruise control as standard, while options like sat-nav and leather will be reserved for top-spec models.
Prices for the Kia Niro are likely to match the Nissan Juke like-for-like, and should start from around £12,000. However, top-spec cars with the hybrid engine and four-wheel drive will target the powerful Juke Nismo and as a result could cost upwards of £20,000.