Kia Unveils New-gen Niro Electric SUV At Seoul Motor Show 2021

Published On Nov 25, 2021 03:01 PM By Sonny

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It looks better than ever (thanks to Kia's latest design language) and gets a new EV drive mode

  • The second-gen Kia Niro gets similar styling as the company's new range of purpose-built EVs.

  • Quirky design that makes it stand out from the crowd.

  • Greenzone Drive Mode automatically switches to pure EV mode around residential areas, schools, and hospitals.

  • Kia has confirmed hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric powertrains.

  • Could come to India as a CBU import by 2023

  • Will rival Hyundai Kona and MG ZS EVs.

Kia has unveiled the next-gen Niro compact SUV, made in keeping with the carmaker's latest design language first seen on its new range of dedicated BEVs (battery electric vehicles). It also bears design similarities to the HabaNiro Concept showcased at the 2019 New York auto show.

The new Niro design looks more modern from every angle. At the front, you have the angular headlights whose shape is further highlighted by the LED daytime running lights. Positioned at the edges of the bumper design, they accentuate the car's width too. The exact styling of the front fascia differs slightly between the hybrid and the EV variants, but they have the same theme -- a large air dam and sleek grille spanning the bumper's width. The air dam is larger on the hybrid, whereas the EV sports a flap that likely houses the Niro's charging port.

In profile, the most distinctive visual element of the second-gen Niro is the contrasting panel behind the rear passenger door and above the rear wheels. It stretches from the C-pillar to the vertical taillights and follows their shape from the roof till the rear wheel cladding. This angled pillar design has a functional side as Kia states that it enhances airflow to improve aerodynamics. As we know, aero is key to getting the most range of an EV. You can also see this principle in the wheel design of the EV variant, which is different from that of the hybrid.

Also read: Kia EV6 Electric Crossover Exterior And Interior Revealed In Detailed Images

Another clever design touch from Kia is the bodyside cladding which doesn't run all the way along the sides. Instead, it starts from the front bumper, ends halfway through the rear door, and restarts from the rear wheel arch. This adds to the character of an otherwise mild-mannered compact SUV. 

Around the rear, the Niro has a relatively tame design. Its overall length seems to be visually exaggerated by the contrasting panel along the C-pillar, extending behind it. The integrated roof spoiler at the end of a slightly sloping roofline gives it some sporty aesthetics around the back as well. There’s a chunky rear bumper with rugged styling details and more lighting units, likely for the reversing lights, added brake lights. The number plate is housed in a recess on the tailgate.

The cabin of the all-new Niro features a simplified yet modern design with diagonal and horizontal lines. It features an integrated housing for the large digital river’s display and the central infotainment touchscreen, sloping down towards the passenger side. This slope is mirrored by the dashboard’s design as well, ending at the front passenger’s corner AC vents. Its slight curve also allows it to integrate into the overall shape of the cabin along with the door armrests with the window controls that rise up to meet the A-pillar. The two-spoke steering wheel makes the driver’s side look modern but familiar.

Another standout visual feature of the new Niro’s dashboard is the ambient mood lighting, which extends from the integrated housing for the displays. Its horizontally-stacked, blade-like design gives it a futuristic aesthetic. 

The central AC vents and the climate control panel are positioned under the main dashboard, matching the central display’s width. The central console underneath starts with a recess for storage that also has a wireless charging pad and various ports to plug devices into. Behind it, we find the elegantly styled push-button for the start/stop and the centrally aligned rotary dial for the drive select. It features a lit-up inner circle with a central button to put the car into Park. This dial is flanked by several controls for the front heated and ventilated seats, the parking sensors, parking cameras, and auto-hold. On the driver’s side, this panel extends a bit further back to include the electronic parking brake as well.

Also read: Hyundai And Kia Unveil New Electric SUV Concepts At L.A. Motor Show 2021

Kia has also introduced a new Greenzone Drive Mode on the new-gen Niro's hybrid variants. It automatically switches the car to its EV drive mode when passing green zones like residential areas, schools, and hospitals. The system makes the switch based on navigation cues and driving history data, including home and office locations saved in the navigation system as green zones. This feature's functionality will likely vary depending on the market.

The new Niro's green score extends beyond its electric powertrains. Kia has used recycled materials in the cabin, for example, the headlining that's made of recycled wallpaper and seats made from Bio PU.

Kia has not revealed the powertrain details but has confirmed that the new Niro will be available in plug-in hybrid, hybrid, and EV variants. Based on the details of the outgoing e-Niro, the new Kia Niro EV should be available with two battery sizes, offering between 400km to 600km of range.

Related: To Go With Hybrid Or To Go With EV That Is The Question

It will debut internationally in 2022, but it is unlikely to come to India as part of Kia's regular lineup. The EV variant could be offered in India later as a CBU import like the Hyundai Kona Electric and MG ZS EV.

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