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Kia has developed its Niro 'mild parallel hybrid' model into a full plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV), offering longer zero-emissions range and much lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions numbers. It has made its debut at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.
Although it looks broadly identical to the Niro Hybrid, the Niro PHEV has subtle exterior differences to mark it out. These include a satin chrome grille surround, chrome brightwork with a metallic-blue finish on thin blades in the front and rear bumpers, full LED headlamps, 16-inch aerodynamically optimised alloy wheels and discreet 'Eco Plug-in' badging. There's also a charging port on the nearside front wing, which of course the regular Niro does not have.
Kia engineered the Niro to be a part-electrified model capable of accommodating a range of hybrid drivetrain options from the start, but while the carmaker tries to claim that the PHEV running gear has a 'minimal effect of packaging and versatility', the plug-in has lost boot space in order to fit the bigger battery pack under the cargo bay floor - it's down to 324 litres here, where as the existing Niro offers 427 litres, although at least there is a dedicated space for storing the charging cable under the boot floor. The roominess of the passenger cabin is unaffected by changes, while (like the outside) a few minimal cabin alterations aim to differentiate Hybrid from PHEV. Single- or two-tone leather upholstery with blue stitching, a blue surround for the dashboard air vents and a seven-inch full-TFT driver instrument cluster, which displays key information about the powertrain, are the changes within.
Michael Cole, chief operating officer for Kia Motors Europe, said: "There is a clear demand from customers for a vehicle which combines the practicality and 'cool' image of a compact crossover with the ultra-low emissions of an advanced plug-in powertrain. The Niro Plug-in Hybrid will be the only car on the market to offer this combination."