Kia is actively working on a sub-compact SUV that will be unveiled in China early next year before its speculated international debut.
Speaking to CarAdvice at Kia headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Kia’s vice president of overseas marketing, Soon-Nam Lee, confirmed Kia has plans for a small SUV to rival that of the Peugeot 2008, Renault Captur, Holden Trax and the soon to arrive Mazda CX-3 and Jeep Renegade.
Acknowledging that the Kia Soul was meant to serve the purpose of a small SUV, Lee confirmed the growing trend for SUVs even smaller than the Soul has led the Korean brand to create an entirely new model.
“We need a smaller B [segment] SUV, so globally next year in our China market the B SUV model will be unveiled, you already saw the B SUV concept, so early next year we will unveil.”
Kia recently unveiled the KX3 concept (pictured above) at the Guangzhou motorshow in China, which is similar in size to the Mazda CX-3, but the real concept for the B-SUV segment that will likely see the light-of-day in Australia remains the Kia Niro (picture below), which was shown at least year’s Frankfurt motorshow.
We suspect Kia will launch a hybrid sub-compact SUV in Europe in 2016, based on the Niro concept. It’s expected to be powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, and feature a dual-clutch automatic transmission. A plug-in hybrid model with a larger battery pack is also likely in the works to overcome the toughening European emission laws that come into affect by 2020.
Lee would not confirm details of the Niro concept’s journey to production, but said “we would do our best to reflect the Niro concept”.
The sub-compact SUV segment is set to explode in Australia with the arrival of the Jeep Renegade and Mazda CX-3 next year. The segment will likely take sales away from light city and small cars as buyers seek the practicality of a higher-riding vehicle without the bulkiness of larger SUV models.