Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

Kia has revealed the petrol-electric hybrid Kia Niro will make its European debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show – signalling the start of a plan to roll out a series of eco-friendly models by 2020.

Described by the firm as a ‘hybrid utility vehicle’, the Niro is set to make green alternatives more appealing to the general public. Essentially, by packing a Prius-like drivetrain into a trendy and affordable crossover, it could make sense for people who have traditionally been wary of hybrid vehicles.

The Niro combines a new four-cylinder 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 32kW electric motor and a six-speed dual-clutch auto ‘box. The transmission is based on the same architecture as the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission used in the Kia Cee’d.

Kia says this provides a more entertaining drive than a traditional CVT transmission – a dig at Toyota, and something that might help encourage drivers from their combustion-engined cars.

Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

The combined output from the Niro’s hybrid powertrain is 141hp. The crucial economy figures are yet to be confirmed, but Kia says it’s targeting 89g/km CO2.

At 4,355mm long, the Niro is slightly longer than the Nissan Juke – allowing it to offer greater practicality than its rivals. The boot offers 421 litres of space – 67 litres more than the Juke.

Buyers will also be able to fit an optional tow bar to the Niro, allowing them to tow braked loads of up to 1,300kg.

Kia Niro heading to Geneva: the crossover to make hybrids trendy?

Inside, there’s a choice of a seven- or eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, with sat-nav optional. Both systems support Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio. It’ll be the first Kia to feature Android Auto, allowing the driver to use apps on their phone through the infotainment screen – such as Google Maps navigation and Google Play music.

Production of the Kia Niro will start at the manufacturer’s Hwasung plant in Korea in May 2016, with European deliveries due to follow later in the year.

Prices are yet to be confirmed, but rumours suggest it could significantly undercut the £23,295 Toyota Prius.