A hot hatch version of the new Rio could be offered as a way to help Kia build its brand image in Europe.
“The quality and design is much greater than the brand image represents,” says marketing and product planning chief Benny Oeyen. “You can improved this with cars. A helpful car for us would be a hot hatch, cabrio or a coupe.”
A Rio hot hatch is the most likely option in the short term, given the segment’s popularity in Europe, in particular the UK. The Rio show car at the recent Geneva motor show also had some sporty touches, including its large alloys. Oeyen added: “I can imagine a sporty Kia in Europe; we have to develop the brand.”
Kia’s all-new fourth-generation Rio will also be Britain’s most fuel efficient and lowest CO2-emitting car when it goes on sale in September. A new 1.1-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel will be available from launch that, equipped with stop-start, has CO2 emissions of just 85g/km and combined economy of 88mpg.
That will make Ecodynamics-badged 81bhp, 69lb ft version of the new Rio the cleanest, most efficient car on sale, eclipsing the current holder of that claim, the 85mpg/86g/km Smart Fortwo diesel.
Other engines in the new Rio range include 1.25-litre and 1.4-litre petrol units and a 1.4-litre turbodiesel. All will have CO2 emissions of less than 114g/km and economy in excess of 58mpg when equipped with stop-start. Prices for the range are expected to start from around £10,000.