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2023 Kia Niro powertrain details revealed for PHEV and BEV variants

Since its global debut last Nov., information regarding the 2023 Kia Niro has been slowly trickling out. We’ve seen the crossover’s funky new exterior with the cool and functional side aero blade and its full array of multimedia and driver assistance features. Kia has also revealed that the Niro is slightly larger than before but the one thing we’ve yet to get full details on is the powertrains…until now that is. Thanks to an announcement by Kia’s Swedish arm, we now know what the full lineup looks like.

To recap, the 2023 Kia Niro uses the same hybrid system as before. That couples a 1.6-liter four-cylinder to a 44-hp electric motor, a lithium-ion battery, and a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Kia has revealed the gas engine has improved cooling, friction, and combustion technologies for improved efficiency. The transmission, on the other hand, is a lighter second-generation unit and optimized for better efficiency. Combined output stands at 139 hp but like the version found on the Hyundai Elantra Hybrid, there may be more tweaks than Kia is disclosing.

The model with the biggest updates is the Niro PHEV, which uses the same 1.6-liter four-cylinder and six-speed dual-clutch automatic but gets a larger 11.1-kWh battery (up from 8.9-kWh from the previous model) and an 83-hp electric motor (23 hp more than the current model’s). As a result, the combined system output jumps to 183 hp, an increase of 44 hp over the current Niro PHEV, which has the same output as the standard hybrid.

Finally, the Niro EV gets a 64.8-kWh battery coupled to an electric motor with 201 hp and 188 lb-ft powering the front wheels. Unfortunately, the torque rating is down 103 lb-ft versus the current car. That was likely done to minimize wheel spin, reduce torque steer, and allow the Niro EV to make better use of its available output. For the European region, the claimed range is 463 km or roughly 287 miles, which might be optimistic. Expect EPA ratings to be lower since that cycle is more conservative with its estimates.

Kia only released DC charging speeds, noting that the Niro EV can charge from 10 to 80 percent in 43 minutes. That seems to indicate that the peak 100 kW DC charging rate remains. If Kia did increase the crossover’s charging, it probably did so by a little, bumping it to around 120 to 150 kW. Those rates should put it on par with vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4 and Nissan Ariya.

Certain features that were added during the latter half of the first-generation Niro’s life cycle make a return. This includes the multiple levels of regenerative braking even among the two hybrid models. The Niro EV should also retain its one-pedal driving capability but it’ll likely be a separate mode you select instead of requiring the driver to hold the left paddle. Other efficiency-minded features include enabling the hybrid and PHEV to automatically go into its all-electric mode in green zones like schools and residential areas. The driver can also select the green zones via the built-in navigation system to cut emissions in areas near their homes and workplace.

The 2023 Kia Niro is already on sale in several markets including Korea and certain countries in Europe. It is expected to land on North American shores in the latter half of 2022 but only in two versions: the PHEV and EV. Word around is that Kia is only selling those two versions on this side of the Atlantic to keep it from overlapping with an upcoming hybrid variant of the Seltos.

Written by Stefan Ogbac
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