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Seoul show: Kia closes in on small SUV

SP Signature heralds Kia’s vital Korean-built small SUV but larger Mohave not in mix

28 Mar 2019

KIA has revealed a near-production concept version of its long-awaited all-new small SUV that the Australian subsidiary of the South Korean brand is banking on for a significant boost in sales when it arrives here in the final quarter of this year.


Known as the SP Signature, the compact crossover premiered at Kia’s hometown motor show in Seoul today, alongside a design study for a new large SUV dubbed the Mohave Masterpiece.


There are no indications at this stage that the Mohave – or other similar American-oriented models such as the recently released Telluride – will be produced in right-hand drive, leaving a new flagship SUV off the agenda for Australia.


However, the smaller SP does signal an all-new entrant for Kia Motors Australia that will sit below the Sportage and compete in one of the fastest-growing segments in the market.


The ‘Signature’ version is closely related to the SP concept unveiled at India’s Auto Expo 2018 in Delhi early last year, which at the time was described by Kia as being close to the final design but was still to be confirmed as the model for export to Australia and other western markets.


The SP Signature’s emergence in Seoul in significant because it clarifies South Korea as the production base for the Australian market, rather than India.


The Korean-built Australian-spec models will also have different powertrains to those offered in India.


Kia said in a statement that the SP Signature previews the production model developed for global markets.


In describing the evolution of the design with this version compared to the SP shown in India, the company pointed to its wide grille, long bonnet and, at the rear, wide tail-lamps and body lines, that are meant to emphasise stability and make the vehicle stand out on the road.


“Bold and stylish, the Signature combines sophisticated beauty, breakthrough technology and high functionality in a smart, compact package,” Kia said.


“At the front, its lamps are connected to the ‘tiger nose’ grille, with integrated daytime running lamps. Its strong shoulder line, with a glasshouse which tapers towards the rear of the car, lends the compact SUV an air of understated sportiness.


“The exterior is completed with a series of distinct styling features, contributing to the car’s contemporary, technical design. These include thin LED lamps at the front and rear, sharp lines pressed into the bodywork and precise metallic details.


“As eye-catching as the latest Kia production cars, the Signature heralds the forthcoming arrival of a model for young trendsetters. The concept previews a production-ready compact SUV from Kia, due to be revealed for the first time later in 2019.


“The concept’s design will also influence future models destined for Kia’s global markets.”


The bigger Mohave Masterpiece concept is a large SUV that, as the name suggests, is positioned at the top end with lashings of technology and luxurious features across the cabin.


While its relevance for Australia is less significant, Kia says that both the Signature and the Masterpiece “provide an insight into how Kia could develop its model line-up in future in terms of design, layout and use of technology”.


The car-maker also pointed to the ‘Imagine by Kia’ concept that was shown at the recent Geneva motor show and made its Asian debut in Seoul this week as previewing “how the brand plans to excite drivers with electrified vehicles in future, creating stunning exterior and interior design, with intelligent packaging and cutting-edge technologies”.

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