Kia unveiled two new plug-in hybrid models at the Geneva Motor Show in the shape of the Niro and Optima Sportswagon, further strengthening a green car line-up that has grown dramatically over the past couple of years.
The Niro Plug-in Hybrid uses the same foundations as the hybrid crossover, though has a much larger battery and improved economy figures. Now with an 8.8 kWh battery pack, compared to the Niro hybrid’s 1.56 kWh, the Niro Plug-in Hybrid also uses a more powerful 44.5 kW electric motor to support the 1.6 litre Kappa petrol engine.
This will result in official efficiency figures of less than 30 g/km CO2, though the car has yet to be formally tested, and Kia expects an all-electric range in excess of 34 miles.
As an extra incentive to potential buyers, Kia will also offer an optional towing pack. This will allow braked loads of up to 1,300kg to be towed, a very rare option for hybrid cars.
Also announced was Kia’s Optima Sportswagon Plug-in Hybrid. Using a similar electric powertrain to the saloon version of the Optima Plug-in Hybrid, but with a larger battery – now 11.26 kWh – and a 50kW electric motor. Kia again hasn’t got official efficiency figures available, but expects 34 g/km CO2 and 188.3 MPG to be achieved, along with an electric range of more than 37 miles.
The two new announcements mean Kia will have five electrified models in its fleet, adding to the Niro, Optima Plug-in Hybrid, and Soul EV. Considering that the Hyundai-Kia group also has the likes of the Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell and three car Ioniq range to offer too means that the company quickly become one of the market leaders in electrified fleets.
Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well
What is it?
Kia’s first plug-in hybrid, complete with the credibility-stretching fuel economy and emissions figures we’ve come to expect from cars of this type. The Optima PHEV combines the efforts of a normally aspirated 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 50kW electric motor to deliver a peak system output of 202bhp.
There will be more interest among company car drivers in the Optima’s price and CO2 figure. At £31,495 after the UK government’s £2500 plug-in incentive, it undercuts both the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Volkswagen Passat GTE, the VW by nearly £5000. The 9.8kW/h lithium ion polymer battery, which is located underneath the rear of the car, is powerful enough to deliver a claimed 33 miles of electric-only range, and because the official EUDC consumption test allows plug-ins to start with a full battery and finish with a depleted one, the Optima scores a 176.6mpg rating and 37g/km of CO2.
Getting anywhere close to those figures in the real world will mean lots of short journeys between charging stations, of course, and a little patience. Kia says the battery pack can be replenished from flat in three hours by a 240V domestic supply.
Although it is Kia’s first plug-in, the Optima PHEV is mechanically pretty much identical to the Hyundai Sonata PHEV already on sale in some markets. Like its sister, it uses a six-speed automatic gearbox rather than a CVT, with the electric motor effectively replacing the torque converter at low speeds. Thereafter it can either supplement the petrol engine or, in EV mode, power the car by itself at up to 75mph.