Plug-in, hybrid Niro en route

Kia has joined the Green movement, in confirming the Niro for local sale.
Thursday November 9, 2017

By Richard Bosselman

CANDIDATES for the less thrifty of two versions of a Kia hybrid car confirmed for sale here next year are being reminded of its involvement in a feat of record-breaking economy.

The Niro, a crossover hatch with a petrol-electric powertrain, is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid.

It will be on sale in the same hybrid and plug-in hybrid formats that avail to its sister car from parent Hyundai, the Ioniq, from next year, Kia NZ says.

Prices and launch dates have not been revealed.

The Niro was signed off after a single example of the hybrid was shipped to this country for 10 months of driving by media and potential buyers.

In making the announcement, Kia New Zealand also provided what some might see as inspirational background about the potential economy for those drivers who work extra hard at eking out every drop and ohm.

The brand has drawn attention to the maker’s cited optimal economy for the PHEV and also reflected on a parsimonious economy established last December with the standard hybrid, whose powertrain combines a 76kW 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 32kW electric motor and 1.6kWh lithium-ion battery for a combined power output of 108kW/264Nm.

In respect to the latter, it has reminded that two American specialists in the art of extreme economy driving – a practice known as hyper-miling, controversial for its encouragement of low-speed driving and coasting at all costs – got the car into Guinness Book Of Records.

This was from achieving an average fuel burn comfortably below the official economy.

In achieving 76.6 miles per US gallon, or 3.09 litres per 100km, as it drove coast-to-coast across the USA, the drivers achieved the lowest fuel consumption for a hybrid car.

According to Kia NZ, this means ‘record breaking fuel economy is coming to NZ with the Niro.’

However, in the body of release, it also acknowledges that the hybrid will be bettered in ordinary everyday use by the PHEV – which has greater capacity to drive further and faster on pure battery urge alone.

Unsurprisingly, it neglects to mention that the plug-in Ioniq, which is also due for NZ sale and might well be on the road before the Niro arrives, is cited by Hyundai as being even less fuel-reliant than its sister model.

The factory-cited optimum economies from the 1.6-litre petrol and lithium ion battery set drivetrain shared by both cars are 1.3 litres per 100km for the Niro and 1.1L/100km for the Ioniq.

These, of course, are results derived from lab test conditions. Replication on the open road, in real-world driving conditions, would be difficult.

Kia NZ plans to represent Niro as a sports utility vehicle due to its shape and stature and disregarding that it is solely produced in front-drive format and is not intended for off-roading.

Ioniq also avails in a pure electric format but that technology has not been shared into the Niro.