Number 1: Kia Niro
Toyota is normally the brand that springs to mind when it comes to hybrid cars, but at Chicago Kia proved that it was keen to catch up, launching two exciting new petrol-electric models in the space of five minutes. It kicked off with a plug-in version of the Optima, which uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor to give a combined 199bhp, a 27-mile electric-only range, and the same slippery drag coefficient as a Tesla Model S – it’ll go on sale in the UK this Autumn. Next up was the Niro, a Prius-rivalling hybrid, but with a the high-riding stance and off-road styling of a crossover SUV. We’ll get to drive it this summer, but with a seven-speed dual clutch gearbox and a combined 144bhp, it should be more fun than most hybrids on the road. Kia said it had worked hard on smooth power delivery, cruising refinement, and progressive braking, something which many hybrids struggle with. The Niro looked smart inside too, with a simple, classy cabin borrowed from the all-new Sportage. The tall roof means it feels pretty spacious, too, and prices should start at around the £20,000 mark once it hits the UK.