By Adejuwon Osunnuyi
Last week, Kia Motors rolled out three latest models giving them a global public debut at the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show (86th Salon International de l’Automobile), ahead of the car going on sale across Europe from Q4 2016.
On the Kia stand, among the three new models included Optima Sportswagon, Kia’s first-ever D-segment tourer, as well as Optima Plug-in Hybrid and the all-new Niro hybrid, both of whom were both making their European debuts following world premieres at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show in February.
Speaking on the development, Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe, said, “These three new models will bring Kia into new segments for the first time, and help drive the brand’s growth in Europe for years to come.
“The SPORTSPACE concept from 2015 signalled a clear direction for the next generation Optima, and the Sportswagon adds an extra level of style and practicality to the well-received sedan. We decided to show our first-ever D-segment tourer together with our first-ever plug-in hybrid in Geneva to demonstrate our commitment to this hugely important sector, aimed at attracting new private and corporate buyers to the brand.
“The Kia Niro will also broaden our appeal to European customers, offering a compelling blend of crossover practicality with the cool, modern styling for which Kia is famous, and an efficient new hybrid powertrain to keep running costs down. The Niro fills a gap in the market for a crossover with low hybrid emissions, and will enable us to attract a new type of car buyer. Hybrid sales have more than doubled in Europe over the last five years, and are forecast to account for approximately 700,000 sales in Europe by 2020.
“The Niro and Optima Plug-in Hybrid will also help us meet our 2020 global target to improve average fleet fuel efficiency by 25 per cent over 2014 levels.”
Global premiere for the all-new Kia Optima Sportswagon
The Optima Sportswagon, Kia’s first foray into the D-segment tourer segment, has been inspired by the 2015 SPORTSPACE Concept. Manufactured exclusively for Europe, the new Optima Sportswagon offers the striking exterior design and high quality interior of the Optima sedan, with the added practicality and appeal of a tourer.
In adopting a tourer bodystyle, the Optima Sportswagon boasts a series of highly ergonomic features in the boot render the car more practical than many other D-segment tourers. Highly versatile 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats are fitted as standard, enabling owners to slide longer outdoor equipment – such as skis or snowboards – through the central seat, while two rear passengers can still sit in comfort. Other features include a safety barrier net built in to the back of the rear seats and pop-up sliding luggage rails. A low, flat boot lip, and a Smart Power Tailgate enable owners to load heavy items easily.
The Optima Sportswagon is equipped with Kia’s latest audio-visual navigation (AVN) system, and will be among the first of Kia’s models to feature Android Auto™ for Android phones running 5.0 Lollipop or higher (available from launch), and Apple CarPlay™ for iPhone 5 or newer (available by the end of 2016). Both systems allow smartphone-style use of the infotainment system, with apps, voice control and music streaming.
The Optima Sportswagon will be available with a choice of 1.7-litre turbodiesel and 2.0-litre CVVL (continuously-variable valve lift) gasoline engines, as well as a high-powered 2.0-litre T-GDI (turbocharged gasoline direct injection) engine for GT models.
European debut for new Optima Plug-in Hybrid
The all-new Optima Plug-in Hybrid, Kia’s first ever plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, makes its European premiere today, before going on sale across Europe in Q4 2016. The innovative new plug-in hybrid powertrain will be a key addition to Kia’s D-segment Optima line-up, as well as the company’s expanding portfolio of low-emission vehicles.
The all-new Optima Plug-in Hybrid is powered by a 9.8 kWh lithium-polymer battery pack paired with a 50 kW electric motor, allowing it to operate in pure-electric mode for more than 54 km (33 miles or above) at speeds as high as 120 kph, placing the Optima Plug-in Hybrid among the leaders in the D-segment for pure-electric range. Kia’s development teams are targeting combined CO2 emissions of just 37 g/km, which will ensure a low total cost of ownership for private and fleet buyers alike.
The innovative powertrain employs Kia’s efficient 2.0-litre ‘Nu’ four-cylinder GDI engine at its core, which on its own generates 156 ps and 189 Nm. The engine is coupled with the electric motor, which allows the car to operate in charge-sustaining mode once the battery runs out of charge. The powertrain’s total power output is 205 ps at 6,000 rpm, and, with the addition of electric power, torque output is a high 375 Nm (276 lb ft) from just 2,300 rpm.
The Optima Plug-in Hybrid adopts a range of enhancements designed to improve its aerodynamic efficiency, including reprofiled front and rear bumpers and an all-new active air flap grille, which reduces the drag coefficient to just 0.25 Cd (0.27 Cd for the Optima sedan).
The Optima Plug-in Hybrid is equipped with two key technologies to save and regenerate battery power – regenerative braking and an advanced heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, with a driver-only ventilation function to conserve energy. Available to European buyers later in 2016, a new Coasting Guide Control (CGC) function is also currently in development for the Optima Plug-in Hybrid, allowing the Niro to anticipate road conditions to reduce energy use and harvest additional electrical power.
European debut for all-new Kia Niro
Shown for the first time in Europe, the all-new Kia Niro, a low-emissions hybrid crossover, has been produced from a combination of significantly re-engineered existing Kia platforms, designed to accommodate the Niro’s specific set of hybrid powertrain technologies.
The Kia Niro will offer the practicality and curbside appeal of a spacious crossover, together with the high fuel efficiency of an advanced hybrid powertrain. Engineered from the ground up as a dedicated hybrid vehicle, its compelling blend of crossover practicality with the cool, modern styling, for which Kia is famous, will help the car stand out among conservatively-styled hybrid rivals. A target CO2 emissions rating of sub-89 g/km (combined, based on Kia internal testing) will ensure low running costs.
Conceived as a dedicated hybrid model, the Kia Niro HEV will achieve its ultra-low emissions levels and impressive fuel economy with a downsized hybrid powertrain. Kia’s 1.6-litre ‘Kappa’ GDI engine – producing 105 ps and 147 Nm torque – is paired with a 32 kW electric motor and a 1.56 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack. The powertrain’s combined 141 ps power output is applied to the road through a highly-efficient six-speed double-clutch transmission (6DCT), with a maximum 264 Nm (195 lb ft) torque available in first gear.
The Niro is designed to offer high levels of practicality and comfortable interior dimensions despite its compact on-road footprint, with class-leading headroom, 421 litres (VDA) of cargo capacity and a boot of a sufficient size and space to offer a full-size spare wheel beneath the boot floor (depending on market). From Q4 2016, the new Niro will be available with optional towing functionality – rare amongst cars in the hybrid class – allowing owners to tow braked loads of up to 1,300 kg.
The all-new Kia Niro is due to enter full series production in May 2016, and will go on sale across Europe during Q3 2016.
As with every Kia sold in Europe, the Kia Niro, Optima Sportswagon and Optima Plug-in Hybrid will all be sold with the brand’s unique 7-Year, 150,000 km warranty.
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