Kia is showing its future design and engineering direction with two future production vehicles and a concept car. The 2015 Optima Hybrid and 2015 Soul EV will soon be arriving on dealer lots, whilst the Kia Niro concept brings a “rally raid-like” design to an urban lifestyle vehicle and also features a hybrid setup for on-demand four-wheel drive.
The Niro is said to be equipped with a turbocharged 1.6-litre ‘Gamma’ four-cylinder engine with 160 hp mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The internal combustion engine only serves the front wheels, while an electric hybrid system can engage the rear wheels with up to 45 hp on tap.
Joining Niro was an updated Optima Hybrid, sporting new front and rear fascias for increased aero performance, new wheels, and hybrid-only grille and lighting designs. Underneath it all, the Optima Hybrid is essentially the same car as the 2013 model, delivering 199 combined hp. However, enhancements made to the gasoline-powered Optima carry over to the hybrid model as Kia aims to be “more upscale” and offer additional “high-tech amenities”.
But, the real news is something we’ve known for quite some time. The Kia Soul EV will be arriving in the second half of this year in Canada. The electrified compact SUV will receive a 27kWh battery pack sending power to a 81.4 kW/109 hp electric motor with 210 lb-ft of torque. Kia expects the Soul EV to achieve a range somewhere between 130 and 160 kms.
When launched in 2014, the all-new Soul was lauded for its premium interior and significantly reduced levels of NVH. The Soul EV will be instantly recognizable for these same qualities. Like its gasoline-powered sibling, a circular theme pervades the cabin and is a pleasing contrast to the exterior’s angular good looks. Inside, the Soul EV sets itself further apart from its gasoline-powered sibling with bright white accent trim on the center console, instrument panel and door panels, lending a light and modern feel to the passenger space. Distinguished by Kia’s most extensive use of bio-based materials, the Soul EV has received UL’s first ever automotive environmental claim validation for its 10.9 lbs. of bio-based organic content in interior plastic. Front and center is the use of BTX-free paint on the audio system surround, vent bezel and the floor console. Bio-based plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane are found in many places within the cabin, including the door panels, headliner, seat trim, roof pillars and carpeting.
In all, organic, bio-based materials are used in 19 different interior parts, making the Soul EV an electric-vehicle segment leader in eco-friendly material application. Separate from the bio-based content validation, extensive use of antibacterial materials also help to keep the cabin clean and are found on the gear selector, audio and HVAC controls, instrument panel switchgear and the floor-mounted center console. Combined, eco-friendly materials are used in 23 different interior parts, making the Soul EV an electric-vehicle segment leader in eco-friendly material application.