New 2022 Kia Niro brings rugged 4x4 looks and all-new interior
25 November 2021 - Autocar
Popular crossover is reborn in line with Kia's new-age design ethos, retaining hybrid and EV options
The new, second-generation Kia Niro is official, introducing a bold new design inside and out for one of Europe’s most popular crossovers.
Ahead of a market launch next year – just six years after the arrival of the current car – the new Niro has been shown for the first time at the Seoul motor show, revealing how the Nissan Juke rival has been brought into line with Kia’s evolved design language.
Kia has confirmed that the new arrival, like the current car, will be offered with hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric powertrains, although the Mk2 e-Niro will remain separate from the firm’s line of ‘EV’-badged bespoke electric cars and will not use the E-GMP platform reserved for those models. An evolution of the current e-Niro’s single-motor, front-wheel-drive powertrain is expected, although the shorter-range car could be discontinued in light of higher demand for the 282-mile 64kWh battery option.
Efficiency and performance boosts are expected across the range. Kia has already confirmed that the plug-in hybrid car now uses data from the navigation system to switch between combustion and EV power where appropriate – shutting the engine down outside schools, for example. The 1.6-litre petrol engine currently used in combustion-powered Niro variants is also likely to be carried over but is unlikely to be boosted to give the same 261bhp combined output as the new Sportage PHEV.
The new Niro takes heavy inspiration from 2019’s quirky HabaNiro concept, adopting a striking two-tone paint scheme, rugged 4x4-inspired design cues and a new version of Kia’s trademark ‘tiger face’ grille. A defining aspect is the chunky C-pillar, which is said to improve aerodynamics, and incorporates boomerang-shaped rear light clusters similar to those which adorn sibling brand Hyundai’s new Bayon crossover.
A focus on aerodynamics is part of a wider effort to improve the Niro’s efficiency and sustainability credentials. The new-look cabin is finished predominantly with recycled materials – the headlining uses recycled wallpaper and the seats incorporate fibres from eucalyptus leaves, for example – and the door panels are coated in a water-based paint free from BTX petrochemicals.
The influence of Kia’s newer models is evident in the asymmetrical centre console and dashboard. Significant changes over the previous car include an electronic gearshift dial, ambient mood lighting and slim, lightweight front seat designs with a coat hanger on the back of the headrests.
Kia is expected to offer a timeframe and pricing for the new Niro's UK launch in the coming months, as it continues to refresh and expand its line-up.