2023 Kia Niro hybrid more efficient, no more powerful

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Kia shared the shapes of the second-generation, 2023 Niro last November when the hatchback debuted at the Seoul Mobility Show. The South Korean automaker is finally back with some of the Niro's specs in hybrid form. The HabaNiro-influenced bodywork is slightly fuller in every dimension, gaining 2.5 inches in length, 0.8 inches in width, 0.4 inches in roof height and 0.8 inches in wheelbase. The sheetmetal will make a fuller feast for the eyes, too, thanks to a host of colorways outside and in. There will be nine primary color choices, accented by six color choices for the contrasting C-pillar, and three more contrasting colors for the cladding. Interior dressings will come in either Charcoal, Medium Gray or Petrol/Light Warm Gray, and an ambient lighting package with 74 shades will be available.

The bigger body makes more room for passengers and cargo, the load bay getting another space boost thanks to Kia moving the 12-volt battery from the wheelhouse to a space under the rear seats alongside the high-voltage battery. Based on the European VDA measurement technique, the cargo bay increases by 0.5 cubic feet to 15.9 cubes. We must wait to see how that translates to the U.S. model, since the SAE credits our second-gen Niro's load space with 19.4 usable cubes before the improvement.

At the other end of affairs, the Niro hybrid benefits from an improved engine and transmission, yet displacement and output haven't changed. The naturally aspirated 1.6-liter four-cylinder is requisitioned from Hyundai's SmartStream family of engines, while engineers refined the six-speed dual-clutch automatic to be lighter and more efficient. Kia claims a 4% fuel economy improvement on the South Korean cycle. The engine still makes 104 horsepower and 106 pound-feet of torque on its own. When aided by the 32-kilowatt e-motor, combined output holds steady at 139 horsepower, all of it sent to the front wheels.

Occupants are predicted to experience a better ride thanks to improved steering that reduces friction and increases feedback, more sound deadening material, and a refined suspension setup on the upgraded platform that entails MacPherson struts in front and a four-link arrangement in back.

The new Niro goes on sale later this month in its home market of South Korea, global markets will need to wait until much later in the year. In the meantime, we await specs for the other two powertrain versions to be offered, the plug-in hybrid and battery-electric trims.

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