This frugal hybrid is about to get spicier.
Remember the Kia HabaNiro Concept from the 2019 Chicago Auto Show? Well, Kia said that design elements from the HabaNiro would make it onto a production model, most likely the next-generation Kia Niro. Naturally, we assumed the production version would drop some of the crazier styling elements like the butterfly doors, but new spy photos of the 2022 Niro appear to have proven us right.
This is the first time we've spotted the next-generation Niro out testing, and as such, this prototype is still heavily camouflaged. But even in these early spy shots, we can see that the new Niro will receive some of the bold styling elements previewed by the HabaNiro. We doubt Kia will keep the HabaNiro name, but the production Niro will certainly be spicier to look at.
The Niro will keep its five-door layout with a more aggressive design on the C-pillar. It's no coupe SUV, but the design certainly looks sportier. This new model will have a longer wheelbase than the one it replaces, providing more passenger space and possibly more room for a larger battery on the electric model. Like the current model, the next-gen Niro is expected to continue offering a hybrid drivetrain, a plug-in hybrid version, and an all-electric variant, sticking with the plan to vastly enhance the range of BEVs available by 2025. What isn't known just yet is whether or not the new Niro will adopt a new shared EV platform that will be used across multiple Kia, Hyundai, and Genesis models.
From a design perspective, the HabaNiro Concept was one of the only recent Kia vehicles not to use the company's signature Tiger Nose grille, opting for a front end reminiscent of a shark's snout. This prototype is still pretty covered up and it appears that the headlights are still provisional as to not give away their final design.
At the back, the production Niro carries over the boomerang-shaped taillights that appeared on the concept. The wheels, while different from the concept, look sporty for an efficiency-focused vehicle. With the new Niro expected to arrive as a 2022 model, we're expecting a reveal sometime in the middle of 2021. It's unclear if the hybrid, PHEV, and EV models will arrive at the same time or separately.