Kia has plans to launch a compact SUV within the next two years, one of nine new models it plans to launch by the end of 2018.
“There’s space to grow with SUVs, into lower segments,” said Martins at the European reveal of the new Optima SW and Niro hybrid. “This model makes sense for us, and we will bring it in the future, two years maximum.”
The B-segment SUV is likely to be based on the underpinnings of the next-generation Kia Rio, which is set to arrive next year.
Both form part of Kia’s renewed model offensive, which will see the nine models launched by the end of the 2018, including replacements for existing models and body derivatives. This process started with the new Sportage and Kia Optima, and will continue with the Optima SW and Niro unveiled today.
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Martins also reconfirmed Kia’s desire to produce a production version of the highly regarded GT concept as one of the nine new models. He said Kia wanted the car to be one “you totally fall in love with”, that “drives well, has good ride and handling, a strong powertrain”, rather than be an all-out hardcore driving machine.
Kia signalled its desire to build small SUVs with a concept named the Niro – no relation to the recently unveiled production car of the same name – shown off at the Frankfurt motor show in 2013.
Speaking to Autocar at the recent Chicago motor show, Michael Sprague, chief operating officer of Kia Motors America said: “When we come out with concepts, they are usually pretty strong indications of what’s to come.
“Those concepts tell people that we see an opportunity in the big SUV space and its more than likely something along those lines will come.”