Two years ago, when Kia Souls were just starting to arrive on dealer lots, the Peter Schreyer-styled mini-MPVs looked like “visitors from another planet” on lots filled with old-style Optimas, Spectras and Rios. Today, the Soul fits in fine with its newly-styling siblings… now it’s the old, dumpy Rio’s turn to feel out of place. Along with the frumpy Sedona, the littlest Kia reminds visitors to the Kia lot that once upon a time, not too long ago, Kia’s cars really were an automotive last resort. It’s not that these are fundamentally bad vehicles, but compared to the pop and sizzle offered by their new siblings, they simply aren’t trying to be more than basic transportation. But now, with a new global Rio set to debut at the Geneva Auto Show, even the littlest Kia is getting in on the family’s new flair for visual drama.
According to Kia’s presser:
The new model features a wheelbase extended by 70 mm (to 2,570 mm) and promises greater passenger space and comfort, together with increased cargo capacity to 292 litres for the hatchback. Exterior dimensions changes include: +55 mm (overall length), -15 mm (height) and +25 mm (overall width).
Inside, the new model will deliver a high level of quality previously associated with larger models – together with a wide selection of trim options.
Kia’s B-segment newcomer will be offered with an extensive range of fuel-efficient and low-CO2 petrol and diesel engines, depending on market – including a 1.1-litre diesel unit generating 70 ps, with CO2 emissions from as low as 85 g/km. An all-new, high-performance 1.2-litre Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) will also be available from 2012.
No word on US sales, but don’t expect a diesel here… the initial launch market is the UK. A three-door version will follow, providing the last stop before Kia’s A-Segment offering, the Picanto/Morning. Now, all Kia needs is that gullwing minivan it’s been promising as a replacement to the elderly Sedona and its transformation will be complete… at least until automotive design becomes so radical as to make Schreyer’s new look seem as dated and apathetic as the cars it replaced. If that’s even possible.