KIA Insider

NEW YORK MOTOR SHOW: More Kia HabaNiro details emerge





Kia Motors America has unveiled yet another all-electric Kia concept car, this time a wacky small SUV that appears to be based on the e-Niro but featuring four butterfly wing doors.

While the e-Niro itself and the Soul EV have been confirmed as Kia Australia’s first electric models next January, following the release of the Korean brand’s first compact SUV late this year, the Kia HabaNiro concept follows last month’s ‘Imagine by Kia’ compact four-door coupe concept.

But according to Kia Australia, the HabaNiro concept revealed at yesterday’s New York motor show is just that, and “previews nothing other than the versatility and inventiveness of the Korean marque’s Californian design studio”.

Its designers say the HabaNiro creates a “whole new category of mobility” it refers to as “the everything car”. It offers Level 5 autonomous capability and an all-electric all-wheel drive powertrain promising more than 300 miles (480km) of range.

Kia says the HabaNiro is a “prescient look into the future of mobility” that features “more advanced tech than what helped land men on the moon” (Ed: we should hope so).

“We wanted this concept to be comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures,” said Kia Design Centre America vice-president, Tom Kearns.

“We imagined a car for everyone and nearly everything. Then, when we saw the finished product, we were blown away by the imagination of the HabaNiro’s creators and its laboratory of technology and we want it in our driveways today.”

Clearly, Kia’s design crew worked to gift the HabaNiro with a muscular and capable vibe. Riding on 20-inch wheels the commuter-cum-crossover vehicle plays heavily on its contrasting surfaces to provide a sense of power, with metallic grey and lava red cladding extending over the front wheels, through the haunches and over the roof.

It’s all about latent energy, Kia says, making the car look fast even when it’s standing still. The grille resembles a shark’s mouth, exaggerating the HabaNiro’s wide stance and wheel-at-each-corner stance; even the daytime running lights pulse like a beating heart!

“We couldn’t be more proud of our design centre,” said Kia Motors America COO and executive vice-president, Michael Cole.

“The HabaNiro is a genius work of skill and imagination. Not only does its beautiful design incorporate the needs of future mobility, but its engineering and technology anticipate the way people will want to move in the near future.”

Kia says the four butterfly doors are a mere introduction to the technology the HabaNiro holds inside its cabin. Beyond the vibrant, bouclé fabric-trimmed upholstery it’s a full-width head-up display and concave acrylic instrument panel that grab the eye most.

This large, interactive touchpad display uses a combination of sensory light feedback and technical option-sharing technology that allows users to swipe and move vehicle options across the HUD as if they were moving chess pieces, Kia says.

Climate is managed by a slim, perimeter ventilation system that “quietly and evenly blows a curtain of air throughout the cabin”, while a soft ambient glow from the geometrically-patterned floor creates movement that reflects onto surfaces within the cabin.

Measuring 4430mm long, 1600mm high, 1955mm wide and riding on a 2830mm wheelbase, the HabaNiro also uses Kia’s new real-time emotion adaptive driving system (or READ) introduced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

READ can optimise and personalise the cabin space to match the driver’s emotional state in real-time through artificial intelligence-based bio-signal recognition technology. It’s said to create a more pleasurable and safer driving experience.

Sadly, Kia Australia’s US counterparts appear no more confident of the Kia HabaNiro reaching production, saying: “We don’t advise betting the farm on it”.

KMA also used the New York show to launch the all-wheel drive Kia Stinger GTS limited-edition, which will be restricted to 800 units in the US.

Kia Australia’s Kevin Hepworth said neither the Stinger GTS nor its AWD system – complete with drift mode — will not become available here, but that its special orange paintwork and carbon-fibre additions “may come under consideration”.

The US-market Stinger GTS wears ‘Federation’ premium orange paint and a genuine carbon-fibre grille, side vents and mirror caps, as well as an Alcantara-clad steering wheel and centre console, and premium suede-like Chamude headlining.