The new model is know internally as ‘DE’ and is based on a bespoke platform and new-generation hybrid transmission with a 1.6-litre petrol engine and electric motor.
No technical details of the upcoming model have yet emerged, but the launch model will be a conventional hybrid with a plug-in version – which gets a larger battery pack – to follow.
The new car is a five-door hatchback just over 4.3m long, making it slightly more compact than a VW Golf and also smaller than Kia’s own Sportage model. DE is styled to look like a crossover version of a compact estate car, giving it a passing resemblance to models such as the Peugeot 2008.
Kia sources say that the new car, which will be sold globally, has two roles. One is to help Kia meet the 95g/km fleet CO2 regulations to come into force in Europe in 2020. The second is take sales off the market-dominating Toyota Prius.