Against the backdrop of Barberstown Castle, Kia Ireland launched two models which they hope will further increase their commanding position within the Irish market. Kia hope that with the introduction of an additional two models this year along with a further four new models for 2017 that their success of the past number of years will continue to grow.


First up is the all new Kia Niro. The Niro marks the dawning of a new day for the Korean brand in Ireland as it is their first hybrid model which they have introduced here. The Niro is aimed at the mid-size crossover market which is ever increasing. At a time where consumers are becoming even more aware of their miles per gallon and the lasting effects of motoring on the world that we live in, the Niro hopes to find its own niche within the market.

Visually to look at it does have a certain appeal to it. The Niro has been built on a whole new platform which appears to create a lightweight, aerodynamic and dynamic drive. The Niro retains the Kia signature front grille along with the iconic headlights which we have grown to recognise as the brand expands. The crossover silhouette of the Niro sits slightly bigger than the Cee’d and shorter and lower than the Sportage. A new alloy wheel design has also been designed dedicated towards the Niro.


Inside, the Niro is graced with an almost wrap around interior with defined horizontal lines while providing a perception of a very spacious cabin. Seating space throughout the Niro appears to be generous in both the front and rear seats for the segment that it falls into. All of the materials within the cabin appear to be finished to a high quality offering soft touch yet durable surfaces. Up front, the binnacle provides real time driving information in relation to where the power is being drawn from, battery, engine or both. A large 7 inch touch screen infotainment system is then also located in the centre of the dash. All of the relevant driving, Bluetooth and entertainment information can be access from here with ease. Android Auto is available on all new Kia Niro’s while Apple Carplay will be introduced towards the end of 2016. The Niro also has a wireless charging pad which will charge all compatible devices and even remind you if you have left your phone in the car when you are leaving.


On the road, the new Kia Niro drives well. It will require a longer test drive in order to establish if the Niro has the ability to return real world figures when it comes to fuel consumption however Kia state that it is listed as having a combined cycle return of 3.8 litres per 100 kilometres on models fitted with 16 inch alloy wheels. From a handling point of view the Niro performs and behaves as you would expect from a midsized crossover. The Niro is powered by a 1.6 litre petrol engine accompanied by a 32 KW electrical motor and a 1.56 kWH lithium-ion polymer battery pack which allows the battery to be charged under regenerative braking thus eliminating the need to plug it in. Power to the wheels is provided through a dual clutch automatic transmission while the maximum power output stands at 141PS along with a maximum 265 Nm of torque.


Pricing on the Kia Niro will start from €30,595 while buyers will also be entitled to a €1,500 Government grant for purchasing a hybrid model bring the starting price down to €29,095.


Next up is the introduction of the new Kia Optima Sports Wagon (SW). I will be the first to admit that I was extremely impressed with the Optima saloon so the introduction of a Sports Wagon model makes perfect sense to me as the demand for estate vehicles continues to increase. At present the estate car market in Ireland represents approximately 13% of the overall market. This is substantially behind our European counterparts where almost every second new vehicle car is an estate car. This is something which Kia hopes to build on with the introduction of the Optima SW to the Irish market. Visually to look at, the new Optima SW retains the sporty look of the saloon model while providing a sleek look to the side profile with the sloping roof line. The wrap around rear lighting clusters compliments the Optima SW unique and dignified front end. 18-inch alloy wheels will be standard on all new SW models also as well as privacy glass in the rear.

Sitting inside the new Optima SW you will notice that space continues to be the forefront of the Optima’s design. Throughout the front and rear seats the leg and head room is impressive while there is over 550 litres of space available in the boot with the rear seating in place. Access to the luggage area seems to be achieved easily given the wide boot opening and the absence of a lip at the load point. A full colour 7-inch touch screen occupies the centre of the dash which adds to the high quality finish to all the interior fixtures and fittings.


The new Kia Optima Sports Wagon will only be available in one trim, EX and will be powered by a 1.7 CRDi engine which will have a power output of 141 bhp along with 340 Nm of torque. Based on a short test drive, the new Optima SW is perfectly capable and is extremely comfortable on the road. At present the Optima SW is only available with a six speed manual transmission with no indication if an automatic transmission may be made available. The level of standard equipment available on the new Optima SW is impressive and will definitely ensure that it will be a contender for any potential buyers in the market for a new, sporty estate car. We look forward to the opportunity to put the new Optima Sports Wagon through its paces properly on a full test drive.

Pricing starts from €29,950