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First look: it’s Kia’s hybrid crossover concept

Called ‘The Niro’, it’s a sub-90g/km, fuel-efficient compact SUV

The sketch above will soon be transformed into an actual, real-life production car from Kia. It’s called ‘The Niro’, and is a brand new mini SUV.

No relation to Robert, ‘The Niro’ sits on an all-new, lightweight Kia platform dedicated to eco-cars, of which more than half is composed of ultra-high strength steel.

This lightweight platform, explains Kia, not only goes toward reducing the average weight of its new car bodies by 2020, but also boasts low noise, vibration and harshness levels. We’re promised a smooth and refined ride, with ‘engaging handling characteristics’.

To this mix comes a 1.6-litre petrol engine with 100bhp and 108lb ft of torque, paired up with a 32 kW electric motor, 1.56 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack, and six-speed double-clutch gearbox. There are no combined power figures just yet, but we do know it’ll become a plug-in hybrid soon after its launch.

And then there’s the styling. The ‘tiger-nose’ grill is in full effect, while Kia’s Californian design studio is said to have drawn inspiration from ‘contemporary sculptural art’ and ‘modern architectural design’. You can be the judge of that.

We’ll see the proper production version of The Niro late next year. It’s part of Kia’s plan to grow its current eco-car line-up from four models to 11 models over the next five years.

The range will cover plug-in hybrids through battery-powered cars, to a Kia hydrogen car. Talk about hedging your bets…

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