Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up this week's gossip from across the automotive industry
14 March 2017

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 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.

Our Verdict

Kia Niro

Kia taps into the zeitgeist with an all-new hybrid compact crossover, but conventional models like the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Honda HR-V will take some beating

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Driven this week

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 Ioniq.

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

Join the debate


14 March 2017
I am sick to death of this fat overweight miniscule interior load of profit making branding from BMW. So many variants which cost pennies with price differentials of many thousands. Clever for them, annoying for road users who see absolutely nothing MINI about them. Ahh yes of course.. OBESITY still reigns supreme Maybe paint them in plaid colours for the US market in keeping with their gross dress style

what's life without imagination

14 March 2017
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!




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

14 March 2017
[quote=The Apprentice]Surely BMW are just cannibalising its own sales? X5 customers are moving to the even bigger Mini...[/quote] 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.

14 March 2017
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

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