Kia Niro Concept
Kia's rise from Hyundai's cheap subsidiary to a design leader is one of the stunning success stories of the past half-decade. Almost solely the work of chief designer Peter Schreyer and the talent heâ€™s assembled, the brand has not only received numerous well-deserved design awards, it also has surpassed Hyundai in perceived qualityâ€”and, depending on the segment, sales. The Niro concept, which will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show, is further proof of the boldness prevalent at the Korean brand.
Styled at Kia's Frankfurt design studio, the Niro is a compact crossover with a sporty hatchback shape. It stands on massive wheels and offers Jeep-like ground clearance, with Kia saying it can "take on the urban environment with style and tenacity." Thatâ€™s a bit of a modest statement, if you ask us, unless prospective Niro owners live in post-apocalyptic wastelands where roads are littered with corpses and thus unusable.
For ingress and egress in "urban style," the Niro is fitted with scissor doors that reach into the roofâ€”naturally. A black-and-silver motif is accentuated by an especially toxic-looking yellow that covers the grille surround, the tow hooks, the wheel hubs, and even the tread of the tires. The LED headlights and fog lights mirror those of the current Kia cee'd, and both head- and taillights feature a three-dimensional look.
The interior is retro-futuristic, with the seats connected by a common piece of fabric that stretches over the center console. Two cylindrical pillars connect the tunnel console with the dashboard, and they look as if they were lifted directly from the Seat Bolero 330 BT concept. A knurled wheel on the left of the two pillars operates the automatic transmission, while individual gears can be selected by a pair of steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles. A large TFT screen positioned in the center of the dashboard supplements the Niroâ€™s instrument cluster.
Kia doesn't say anything more about the Niro's powertrain other than calling it "innovative.â€ť But a pair of centrally mounted exhaust outlets suggests that a powerful internal-combustion engine resides under the hood. The Korean manufacturer will have more details on the powerplant when the concept takes the stage in Frankfurt.
Kia is using the Frankfurt auto show to gauge public opinion of the Niro, and we understand thereâ€™s a chance that the concept could eventually make production. Even if Niros begin rolling off production lines, its B-segment bones likely would be too small for American tastes. Still, sharp styling is appreciated in every segment and in every market, and with that in mind, Kia has again reminded us that its design team remains one of the most talented in the business.