Kia Forte hybrid Ambleside
Kia Forte hybrid
Petrol hybrids are becoming ten-a-penny and diesel ones are on the way, too. But Kia has gone a step further and broken the mould – this is the world’s first LPG version!
It’s based on the Kia Forte, which is essentially a saloon version of the Cee’d and a popular bodystyle in the firm’s home market of Korea, a country with an extensive LPG infrastructure already in place.
For British buyers, a C-segment small family car with a boot, not a hatchback, has limited appeal. And as it only runs on LPG – with no dual-fuel system capable of switching to conventional petrol – its target audience will be even narrower. But Kia still insists that’s not necessarily a barrier to it coming to UK roads.
The firm’s European bosses revealed at last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show they will be working with UK colleagues to seek customers for the car. They believe it will appeal to eco-conscious private buyers, but more importantly, to environmentally sensitive companies keen on saving a few pounds, who already have easy access to LPG. This means transport firms who use the green, ultra-cheap fuel in their lorries and have storage tanks and pumps in their depots.
Interestingly, sister company Hyundai has the same LPI Hybrid technology – it stands for Liquid Petroleum Injection – in an Elantra and has identical plans to find British buyers.
The Kia hybrid went on sale in Korea a few weeks ago, powered by a modified 1.6-litre 116bhp petrol engine that’s in the Cee’d and Soul, while an additional 20bhp is generated by an electric motor. It’s not a full hybrid so can’t run on electricity alone; it just uses the battery to boost torque during acceleration. On the road, its manners are reminiscent of the Cee’d, which means it’s refined and quiet. This is particularly evident at junctions, when Kia’s ISG stop-start system kicks in. A charge meter and branch logo in the dials keep you informed of your performance.
Most impressive are its eco-credentials. CO2 emissions come down from 136g/km in the 1.6-litre Cee’d to only 94g/km in the LPI, making it exempt from road tax.
Rival: Honda Insight
Hybrid Honda, can’t match rivals, such as the Toyota Prius, for fuel economy, but it’s several thousand pounds cheaper.
Author: Richard Yarrow