Currently reading: Autocar confidential: Seat, Smart, Mini, Kia
Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry

This week's gossip from the automotive industry has news of a Cupra version of the new Ibiza, Smart in North America, Mini's line-up and an all-electric Kia Niro.

Will there be a new Ibiza Cupra?

Seat's executive vice president for research and development, Matthias Rabe, says a Cupra version of the upcoming new Ibiza “isn’t a top priority”.

Ibiza Cupra R&D costs would be similar to those of the pricier Leon Cupra and it’s simply not profitable. Instead, look out for the upcoming Ateca Cupra (Autocar has already spied development cars) and the possibility of a more extreme Leon Cupra 300 R being readied for this year’s Frankfurt motor show.

Read more: 2017 Seat Ibiza supermini revealed2017 Seat Ibiza is 'a huge change' says UK boss Richard Harrison

Smart's line-up in North America

Daimler has decided to sell only electric variants of its Smart brand in North America, although there are currently no plans axe petrol versions in Europe.

North America is a very small market for Smart, but its electric models have had a better sales impact than the petrols. In Europe, the petrol-powered variants are still popular, so Daimler does not want to take them off the market.

Read more: Smart Forfour Electric Drive 2017 reviewSmart Fortwo Cabrio and Forfour special editions unveiled 

Mini's growing line-up

There will be no Mini bigger than the Mini Countryman in this third generation of new Minis – but it could still grow in the future. Boss Peter Schwarzenbauer said that “with this generation and architecture, the Countryman is the largest Mini you’ll see”, without elaborating on what that meant for the future.

Read more: 2017 Mini Countryman S E hybrid model on sale this June, Mini considers moving EV production to Germany amid Brexit concerns

Niro goes electric

An all-electric version of the Kia Niro crossover will go on sale in 2018, shortly after a plug-in hybrid version of the car arrives later this year.

The Niro, which will be crucial in helping the Korean brand to grow its portfolio of ecofriendly vehicles, shares its underpinnings with Hyundai’s Hyundai Ioniq.

Read more: 2017 Kia Picanto revealed at Geneva motor show, 2017 Kia Stinger European specs confirmed

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ianp55 14 March 2017

Mini Countryman

Thank god that BMW has come to it's senses and decided to make the Countryman the biggest car in the Mini range,I had fears of some monstrosity like a stretched Mini-Limo being added to the range to satisfy the imagined needs of it's customer's
The Apprentice 14 March 2017

Surely BMW are just

Surely BMW are just cannibalising its own sales? X5 customers are moving to the even bigger Mini...
catnip 14 March 2017

[quote=The Apprentice]Surely

The Apprentice wrote:
Surely BMW are just cannibalising its own sales? X5 customers are moving to the even bigger Mini...
Wouldn't you say that MINI customers and mainstream BMW customers are rather different? I've noticed that there are fewer new X5 (and X3) on the road than there used to be, but I've put this down to there being more similar alternatives from Audi, Mercedes, VW, etc... And BMW are only responding to customer demand, from those who like the brand but need more space for their expanding families, as a business they'd be mad not to.
Deputy 14 March 2017

SEAT Ibiza Cupra - easy.

Ibiza Cupra R&D costs? Come on SEAT. You already make a 192BHP Cupra version of the current Ibiza. The new VW Polo GTi already uses it in basically the same car. So a new Cupra bumper moulding for SEAT and the bits from the Polo = job done. Wouldn't even need a crash test or type approval!