RAC Cars News


It's all happening at Kia

By raccars Published

Kia Suv

There's a lot to look forward to from the Korean brand, including a sleek and sporty new saloon.

Kia is one of a group of upwardly mobile budget brands which are cleverly re-positioning themselves in the market. British buyers have taken to the firm's combination of value for money, reliable engineering and forward thinking yet restrained design and Kia is fast carving out a place for itself in the mainstream.

Kia's premium GT saloon

A number of new models are on the way, the most interesting of which is probably a range-topping new rear wheel drive saloon. The GT style vehicle is a rather stylish attempt to take on BMW, with Kia putting a lot of work into punchy handling and driver engagement. Kia has a whole new platform architecture range under development which it hopes will enable it to compete with the German brand's famous driving dynamics.

The saloon has been spotted out testing, albeit heavily disguised, but a coupe-esque silhouette is evident, together with Kia's tiger nose front grille and a long, sweeping bonnet. Kia certainly seems very excited about the car, which will be based largely upon the 2011 GT concept seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The new platform will also be used by Kia's parent company, Hyundai, and is a key factor in Kia's plan to show a sportier side.

The halo model will be seen in production format some time in 2017, perhaps at the Detroit Motor Show to capitalise upon Kia's popularity in the US. Expect a starting price of about £23,000.

An SUV based upon the 2013 Niro concept

Meanwhile, Kia is also working upon an SUV variant of the Rio supermini, which itself will be introduced in updated format in 2017. The new crossover is aimed at fans of the Nissan Juke and could be made available as a plug-in hybrid. It's due to go on sale late in 2017 with a starting price of about £14,000, a little more than the supermini on which it will be based.

That SUV format will make the new car more spacious and practical than the Rio, and will apparently be sporty but recognisably 'Kia' in design. It will be more conservative looking than the quirky Kia Soul model and demonstrate similar design language to the smart new Sportage model, in order to ensure a consistency of style within the brand's model line-up.

A hydrogen fuel cell Kia

Furthermore, Kia is also apparently working on hydrogen fuel cell technology, which it believes is the key to clean and green motoring in the future. The company already has an electric power train in its range in the Soul model, so the technology is available but is being put on the back burner for the moment to allow engineers to concentrate on fuel cell development instead. As a part of Hyundai, Kia has access to resources already demonstrated in the ix35 Fuel Cell model and will no doubt be calling upon that connection.

The Sportage SUV has been identified as a suitable model to get the fuel cell treatment, with enough space to house the hardware used by hydrogen powertrains which take up a fair amount of room. Like other manufacturers, the main drawback to the public acceptance of hydrogen is the shortage of filling stations, but last year's VW Group 'dieselgate' scandal is ensuring a push in eco power train development. Concern about the future of diesel means that Kia is not planning use the fuel in its performance GT range, preferring instead to focus upon sustainable options.

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