KOREAN car maker Kia is expanding its eco-friendly plug-in hybrid line up to three models with the introduction of a PHEV version of the Niro crossover.
Joining the Optima saloon and estate PHEVs, the Niro will be the most fuel efficient combustion engined car Kia's has ever produced with emissions slashed to 29g/km, the equivalent of 217.3mpg.
Priced from Â£27,995 after the Government's Â£2,500 grant for plug-in models, the new Niro is the first compact crossover to feature the rechargeable petrol-electric technology.
The Niro PHEV is powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a 44.5 kilowatt electric motor which enables the car to travel a claimed 36 miles on electricity only.
It is a similar set up to that used on the Niro hybrid which Kia launched last year but with bigger battery pack and a more powerful electric motor allowing the car to operate as a pure EV.
Unlike the hybrid, which recharges its batteries automatically on the move, the PHEV can also be recharged externally either at home or from a specialist charging point to give enough range for an emission free average daily commute.
The charger is located behind a flap on the nearside front wing of the new Niro.
Together the engine and electric motor develop a combined output of 139bhp which give the Niro PHEV a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 10.4 seconds and a top speed of 107mph - slightly slower than the hybrid but with the potential for much greater economy.
The plug-in model is based on the mid-range Niro 3 model which includes full smartphone integration and sat nav compatibility.
The larger battery pack fitted to the PHEV means that boot space is reduced by some 170 litres to 324 litres and the plug-in has a slightly smaller fuel tank at 9.5 gallons.
As with all Kia cars the Niro PHEV comes with a seven year/100,000 mile warranty which is fully transferable should the vehicle be sold on.
Along with the IONIQ crossover from Kia's sister company Hyundai, the Niro is one of a pair of vehicles designed to be the world's first ‘three-in-one' eco models available as hybrids, PHEVs and pure battery-powered electric vehicles.