Korean maker drops a big hint towards the look of Cee'd hot hatch

Kia is planning to release a range of performance saloons and hatchbacks over the next three years all under the "XR" badge, and Autocar can bring you an exclusive preview of the first of them.The maker dropped a considerable hint when it revealed this re-styled, XR-badged Kia Cee’d at a press gathering near the company’s Korean HQ last week.Officially this is just a standard Cee'd with Kia's accessory styling kit. Judging by the well-resolved nature of the bodykit and the discrete badging though, we'd say it’s likely that the production versions in Kia’s performance range will look very similar.

Powering the XR brand

Although this car was powered by a stock normally aspirated engine, Kia sources told Autocar that engineers were working on both turbo and supercharged engines for future models."Turbocharged engines would be aimed at Europe and supercharged engines at the American market because of different customer demands," the source said.

A "glocal" strategy

Kia says that it is currently operating a "glocal" (globalised, but local) growth strategy. Significantly boosting Kia’s brand image between 2005 and 2008 should help move the company into profitable growth by 2009, bosses say.A high-performance sub-brand will be a part of this brand-building that Kia hopes will help grow sales from 1.32m in 2006 to 2.5m by 2010. Company bosses say they also want to boost European sales by nearly 100 percent from last year’s 308,000 to 609,000 in 2010.The plans for North American are only slightly less ambitious, with an aim to go from 315,000 units to 627,000 over the same time frame. A new plant in Georgia, capable of building 300,000 cars annually, will be on stream by 2009.

Hilton Holloway

Our Verdict

Kia Cee'd
The Kia Cee'd is a great second attempt at a class-leader, but lack of driver engagement lets it down

The Kia Cee’d is more than good enough to harry the opposition

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