Kia has taken the wraps off its dramatic new Niro urban-lifestyle concept. The car is a possible preview of a future B-segment contender.
The Niro concept combines a robust and stylish body shape featuring a mix of contrasting materials in a compact dimension. Created by Kia’s Frankfurt Design Studio with European taste and expectations in mind, and to appeal to individualistic and demanding driver for whom size is an issue, the concept features intriguing elements not always associated with smaller cars.
According to the ambitious Korean marque, the Niro “has the solidity and style of a solid-cast titanium watch case yet displays a nimble stance.”
“Ten years ago people wanted understated style in the SUV market, but increasingly as more people migrate to the B-segment they are looking for strong character and individuality,” said Gregory Guillaume, Chief Designer at Kia’s Frankfurt office who led the concept team.
“We believe Niro is cheekier and even sleeker to show a clear spirited and intrepid character – a car that has the tenacity to deal with any challenge that comes its way,” he added.
“It may have the looks of a Dakar contender but Niro has a strong premium feel thanks to contrasting advanced modern materials that mix brawn with spirit to deliver a playful vehicle ready to be part of an active lifestyle,” Guillaume commented further.
The Niro concept sits on an all-new platform that will underpin Kia’s future B-segment products. It measures 4,185mm in length, 1,850mm in width and 1,558mm in height. With a wheelbase of 2,590mm and a 1,630mm track, the Niro has a planted stance.
It’s menacingly dark “Nightfall” exterior paint is contrasted sharply by a brushed, stainless steel roof. Also adding a feel that the car is virtually bursting out of its skin are running-board type “blades” above the lower side-sills – echoed by similar creases in the front and rear lower valances.
The signature “tiger-nose” grille outline, front and rear towing hooks, bonnet-located air outlet and other elements are highlighted in anodised “Limelight” aluminium.
The front valance also features an asymmetric arrangement of air vent holes that was seen on the Provo concept in Geneva. The aggressive front look is enhanced by an ice-cube light arrangement providing dip and main beam lights, strip daytime running lights around the edge of the lighting housing and also built-in quartered spot lights.
Entry is by dihedral “butterfly” doors that open into the roof panel and swing up high and with low-set flush handles. Mounted directly onto the side windows are milled “Plexiglas” door mirrors with in-built downward-facing cameras.
At the rear, as well as a rearward-facing video camera the functional tailgate has a secret in store. Part of the rear light cluster swings up as an essential element of the hatch architecture to give good light and visibility into the cargo space, leaving behind the secondary section of the cluster to ensure safety by ensuring other road users can still see the car in the dark.
The hatch opens onto a huge carbon-fibre clad cargo deck ready to swallow the equipment and gadgets the driver and passenger may need or for a suite of luggage. The Niro’s sturdy look is completed by special 225/40R20 tyres mounted on milled aluminium 20 inch five-spoke wheels.
Power comes from a 1.6-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine developing 118kW. It and a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission drive only the front wheels while an electric-hybrid system powered from regenerative braking delivers up to 33kW to the rear wheels – when the road conditions require extra grip.
Niro’s interior echoes the one-piece moulded front seats seen in Provo but here, covered in a techno-look “Orbit Silver” line-quilted textile. The clam-shell seat-backs tilt to allow access to a two-seat 50-50 split bench.
Ahead of the driver is a super-vision digital instrument binnacle that can be formatted and switched to provide appropriate information. It features all the main instruments but additional information is displayed on a centre console-mounted screen.
This screen also allows the active owner to see and record live pictures from the video cameras mounted at the front and rear, in the door mirrors and elsewhere in the car.
The centre screen can also display altitude, vehicle attitude, compass and entertainment information, Bluetooth functions as well as mapping and satellite navigation – with directional commands relayed onto the main binnacle.