Kia reveals hot new Rio

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Toyota, Honda and Nissan? It's time to get worried. Even Ford, with its spicy new Fiesta should be looking over its shoulder as soon as Kia releases its new Rio on subcompact B-segment buyers.

The Korean brand will introduce the new Rio in the metal at the Geneva auto show next month, at which time it will show more than just this 4-door hatchback example, dubbed 5-door in Kia-speak. Like the current Rio, the 2012 model will come in three body configurations, starting with a 2-door hatchback (3-door) and finishing off with a 4-door sedan.

"This new model is a big step forward," said Soon-Nam Lee, Director of Overseas Marketing, Kia Motors Corporation. "The Rio has always been successful, and with this new incarnation we have a car that people will want to buy for its looks."

The Rio boasts sporty styling influenced by other new products within the Kia family, the majority of which have already been updated with the brand's all-new design direction initiated by ex-Audi designer Peter Schreyer. Unique to the Rio, an even edgier corporate grille butts up right next to large complex headlamp clusters, all sitting above a sporty three-vent lower fascia with integrated fog lamps in this top-level example. Side glass with a wedge-like rake joins a strong shoulder line and deeply recessed door panels that collectively reach up towards a sporty C-pillar, before integrating into a steeply canted liftback. A large set of five-spoke alloy wheels give the Rio a planted look, enhancing its sassy personality.

Sharing underpinnings with Hyundai's next-generation 2012 Accent that's due this spring, most everything behind the sheet metal will be entirely new when compared to its predecessor, including measurements. Greater passenger space is achieved via a wheelbase that stretches 70 mm (2.7 inches) longer, now spanning 2,570 mm (101.2 inches), while the hatchback model's cargo volume is increased to 292 litres (10.3 cubic feet). It's longer and wider too, up 55 and 25 mm (2.2 and 1.0 inches) respectively, and its sportier profile comes partially from a lower overall height, some 15 mm (0.6 inches) down from its predecessor.

The automaker is keeping mum about interior details and features, but Kia's press release promises "a high level of quality previously associated with larger models – together with a wide selection of trim options."

The U.K.-market press release also talks about "an extensive range of fuel-efficient and low-CO2 petrol and diesel engines, depending on market," which you can read into meaning that the ultra-fuel friendly 1.1-litre diesel with CO2 emissions from as low as 85 g/km won't be heading our way. Then again Kia's all-new 1.2-litre Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) four-cylinder might be, but most likely after the car debuts with a more conventional standard engine.

The Rio is a global car, so if you happen to fall in love with what you see here don't worry as Kia won't disappoint you with a watered down North American version.

The Rio has been extremely successful since it was launched worldwide in 2005, garnering more than 860,000 unit sales.

Expect to see the Rio's North American debut at the New York International Auto Show in April, when we will likely see the 3-door hatchback and 4-door sedan versions on stage as well.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Kia, 2012, Rio, $10,000 - $19,999,

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