We’re going to Rio again
A lot is riding on the success of the Kia small car, writes Neil Dowling
IT’S the next big step, but it’s not the last as Kia prepares its smallcar Rio (pictured) for launch and its corporate image to rocket.
It is unprecedented that we’re probably witnessing the rebirth of Kia — and Hyundai — and this Stage 2 phase could soon have it knocking on Toyota’s door.
Australia has the new Sportage, will soon get the Kia Optima mid-size sedan and in August its rival for the must-have baby-car market, the Rio.
There’s also the chance of the allnew Picanto sub B-Class car.
Kia Australia knows the Rio is a biggie, but it doesn’t know the pricing and final specifications.
No one worth knowing has seen the Rio in the flesh. We only have some fuzzy artist renderings to guide us to the final shape.
But Kia Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth says it will arrive about August and will be a five-door hatchback, probably with the same 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engine offerings.
What is unsure— though has been speculated — is that the hatch to be first shown at Geneva in March may be followed by a sedan at the New York motor show and, after that, possibly a coupe.
But though the roll-out of the Rio is now blurry, Hepworth believes the Ford Fiesta rival is the one that will wash the company clean of dispirited remarks.
‘‘It’s a big step for the company,’’ he says.‘‘This is the car that is the last of the range to get electronic stability control and a five-star crash rating.
‘‘It puts the company on a higher footing than ever before in terms of style and safety and that is going to create a lot of buyer interest.’’
The next Rio is longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model, and has been sketched under the direction of Kia chief designer Peter Schreyer to be ‘‘sporty and elegant’’.
Kia says it will suit ‘‘progressive, energetic consumers who want a stand-out design’’.
The car will make its global debut at the Geneva motor show on March 1.
It will replace the popular current model that last year sold more than 205,000 units.