Kia has decided to abandon plans to bring the latest Soul EV to the United States in order to focus on the Niro. Available as a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and EV, the three-in-one eco-friendly car is likely months away from transitioning to the second generation. In the meantime, our spies are relentless when it comes to catching on camera prototypes undergoing final testing.
There's not much to say about the exterior since it's still heavily camouflaged and has been spotted repeatedly in the last few months. The design is expected to take after the 2019 HabaNiro concept, but less flashy as the production model will eschew the butterfly doors and some of the extravagant design accents we typically associate with showcars.
Since we can see an exhaust system underneath the rear bumper, it means we're dealing with a Niro prototype that still has a combustion engine. It's unclear whether Kia was testing the hybrid or the PHEV derivative, but what matters the most is that our spies managed to take a peek inside. The fully redesigned dashboard incorporates two fully digital screens, although not a true side-by-side layout as the infotainment's touchscreen sits a tad lower.
Mind you, some bits and pieces are still missing as there's no way the hazard lights button will stick out like a sore thumb on the production model. The central air vents no longer flank the infotainment as they've now been relocated below the display. It would appear the 2022 Niro will have separate climate controls below those vents, and the fact they're blacked out indicates Kia is installing touch-sensitive keys.
The chunky gearbox lever of the outgoing model will become a thing of the past, replaced by a rotary knob taking up far less space in the same vein as on the current Niro EV. This change has allowed Kia to install several physical buttons on both sides of the gear selector, providing quick access to the heated and ventilated seats, drive modes (including EV), and other functions.
The reveal is expected to take place in the coming months and an educated guess tells us Kia will initially launch the revamped Niro at home in South Korea. It remains to be seen whether the second-gen model will arrive in the US in time for the 2022MY or it’s going to take a bit longer.