Analyze This: Kia's Niro Concept Gauges Customer Demand in Frankfurt

The shape of things to come


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Rule Number One at an auto show: Unless its a supercar, any concept on display is going to lose those trick doors before it goes into production.

The Kia Niro concept will likely lose those—and a lot else—if Kia decides to build a production version. But the compact crossover on display at the Frankfurt Auto Show does give clues about the size and overall look of a future production vehicle.

Kia says the Niro's appearance in Frankfurt will be used "to gauge public opinion and possible demand," so nothing's off the table yet. A stance and footprint reminiscent of a Nissan Juke will likely stay. Matte black trim, bright yellow accents, and a shiny, rubbery interior won't.

According to Kia, the Niro is designed as an "urban-lifestyle" vehicle that "hints at a readiness for action." The concept features a hybrid, all-wheel drive powertrain, with Kia's 1.6 L four-cylinder engine powering the front wheels and a 45 hp electric motor at the rear for when the back wheels slip.

The Niro concept was drawn up at Kia's European design headquarters, just a few hundred feet from the convention center floor, and any production vehicle based on it may never make it to the US. Still, it's an interesting study, and an indication that Kia is paying attention to a growing segment.

Remove the concept car frippery and mix it with a dash of the Europe-only Kia Ce'ed hatch, and you've got yourself another compact crossover.

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