What would Toyota do if it were starting from scratch, designing the Prius today? Would the world’s best-selling hybrid still have a relatively conventional five-door layout? Or might it follow current fashion?
That was the question Kia’s product development team apparently had to answer when they began working up their own dedicated hybrid-electric model. And in their case, they opted for a slick subcompact crossover-utility vehicle dubbed the Kia Niro.
First shown in concept form more than two years ago, the production Niro loses such fanciful touches as the scissor-style doors. But Kia didn’t take the easy out, simply stuffing a gas-electric driveline in an existing CUV model like the Sportage. Instead, the Korean carmaker opted for a ground-up development program designed, it claims, to strikes a balance between styling, utility, fuel-economy and that elusive fun-to-drive factor.