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Kia crossover to surface in 2017

Niro far: The future Kia crossover is likely to take design cues from the spunky Niro concept that was shown at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.

Unnamed compact SUV to expand Kia's line-up, could be offered as hybrid

13 Nov 2015

KIA'S long-awaited sub-compact SUV is set to touch down in international markets in 2017, plugging a major gap in its line-up and adding incremental volume to its Australian sales.

GoAuto understands that the all new model to Kia's line-up will go on sale in various markets in 2017, with Australia to get the crossover in either late 2017 or 2018.

The South Korean car-maker is without an entrant in the burgeoning crossover segment that has grown by 27 per cent in Australia to the end of October.

Toyota and sister brand Hyundai are also without a sub-compact offering, although both car-makers are deep into development of their respective models, with Australia’s biggest car brand set to launch a production version of its C-HR next year and Hyundai's crossover coming by 2018.

Some reports have suggested that a future Kia crossover will be offered as a hybrid, using Kia's second-generation petrol-electric system, and that it is likely to share its underpinnings with Hyundai's forthcoming dedicated model that will compete against the Toyota Prius.

Kia's crossover is yet to be seen, but GoAuto understands it will carry styling cues first previewed by the Niro concept from the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.

In terms of positioning, it will sit under the Sportage – which is due to be replaced with an all-new model in January – and will compete against big hitters including the Honda HR-V, Mazda's CX-3, the Subaru XV, Mitsubishi ASX, Holden Trax and Nissan Qashqai.

Kia Motors Australia (KMAu) general manager of media and communications Kevin Hepworth said a crossover could provide “incremental growth” and help the company achieve its target of 50,000 annual sales by 2020.

“The sub-compact SUV will add to it,” he said.

Before the expected arrival of the sub-compact SUV, however, Kia has a busy time ahead of it with a number of key new models and upgrades on the horizon.

The fourth-generation Optima mid-sizer has just landed in Australian showrooms, while the Sportage will launch during the Kia-sponsored Australian Open tennis championship in January.

KMAu chief operating officer Damien Meredith told GoAuto that while some people may take time to warm to the design of the new Sportage, its individual looks will eventually win buyers over.

“In the flesh it is very, very impressive,” he said at the Optima launch in regional New South Wales. “I think ‘polarising’ is a good word, but once you get road presence there, people will say 'that’s a good-looking car'. I think it will be a success for us. I love the look.”

Kia's long-awaited Picanto city car arrives in March to take on the Fiat 500, Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Micra and Suzuki Celerio, while a facelifted Cerato touches down in March or April next year.

The second half of next year is pretty quiet for the Korean brand, but an all-new Rio light car is due in 2017 – the same year as the mooted sub-compact SUV.

Despite the likelihood of the future crossover being offered as a hybrid, green technology is not expected to fill Kia's Australian line-up any time soon.

Mr Meredith said the company regularly looks at hybridisation, but it is not in its immediate plans.

“We will continue to look at every opportunity in regards to hybrid technology and models available,” he said. “At the moment there is probably nothing that fits with the short-term strategy. But we will be certainly looking at every opportunity in regards to it.

“Personally, I think that as the years go on, I am sure there will be government intervention and municipality intervention in regards to what can be driven in specific precincts and what can’t be driven. I think we need to be aware of that and keep up with it from a government point of view and a technology point of view.”What's coming from Kia
OptimaNovember 2015
SportageJanuary 2016
PicantoMarch 2016
Cerato faceliftMarch/April 2016
Next-gen RioFirst half 2017
Sub-compact SUV2017

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