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[Behind the Wheel] With the all-new Kia Niro, Kia steps closer to sustainable mobility

The all-new Kia Niro vehicles on a highway connecting Guri and Pocheon, both in Gyeonggi Province, at a media test-drive session Thursday. (Kia)
The all-new Kia Niro vehicles on a highway connecting Guri and Pocheon, both in Gyeonggi Province, at a media test-drive session Thursday. (Kia)
The design of the all-new Kia Niro did it all to captivate young drivers, not to mention its fuel efficiency and comfortable driving experience.

Looking very much like Kia’s concept car HabaNiro, the all-new Kia Niro infused its ‘Opposites United’ design philosophy into the environmentally friendly SUV by making the body two-toned with a bold boomerang-shaped Aero C-Pillar at the rear that completes the futuristic design of the car.

During its four-day long preorder, a total of 17,600 Niro vehicles were sold, among which 46 percent of the buyers were in their 20s and 30s.

In contrast to its outwardly minature look, the model was quite spacious once inside.

The driver and front passenger seats already had plenty of head space, but the back seats had even more, since the roof was higher in the back.

The model is roomy enough to accomodate family, friends, and even large-breed dogs. It is also suitable for car camping.

The back seat can be inclined forward to make enough room for two people to lay down, along with a spacious trunk.

The all-new Kia Niro trunk space (Hong Yoo/The Korea Herald)
The all-new Kia Niro trunk space (Hong Yoo/The Korea Herald)
The cabin was made with eco-friendly materials such as Bio PU with Tencel from eucalyptus leaves used on the seats instead of leather. The model also uses recycled wallpaper on the headlining and BTX-free paint on the door panels.

But what really made the all-new Kia Niro a sustainable car was its fuel efficiency.

The hybrid SUV can drive up to an average of 20.8 kilometers on a liter of gas, the best gas mileage among domestic SUVs.

A test drive of the all-new Kia Niro HEV model on a 113-kilometer round trip from Seoul‘s Gwangjin-gu to Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province had a mileage of 23.7km/l.

This hybrid SUV is ideal for new drivers who have recently started driving.

Compared to other cars, it offers a comfortable and smooth driving experience to put even new drivers at ease.

The car accelerated effortlessly, to the point where the speed going up above 100km/h was unnoticeable. The brakes worked smoothly as well.

The hybrid SUV houses a Smartstream 1.6-liter GDI gasoline engine with a 32kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor boasting a maximum of 141 horsepower.

With a head-up display, newbie drivers do not have to take their eyes off the road to look at the navigator. This allows safer driving with eyes focused on the road.

The all-new Kia Niro was equally quiet when driving in both electric and engine mode, with the wind and road noise hardly detectable.

When entering a school zone, the Niro automatically activated the Green Zone Drive Mode, which is the electric-only driving mode to ensure zero-emission mobility.

This is not a new technology, but it is the first time that the second generation of Green Zone Drive Mode is being used.

With the second generation, drivers can also set dedicated green zones into the navigation system to reduce pollution in areas, such as near their homes or places of work.

The vehicle is offered in seven different paint options, including snow white pearl, steel gray, cityscape green and mineral blue.

Prices start at 26.6 million won ($22,085), while the most high-end Niro model’s Signature version is priced at 33.06 million won.

By Hong Yoo (yoohong@heraldcorp.com)
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