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Kia to launch dedicated hybrid crossover in 2016 - report

Kia will launch a dedicated hybrid crossover vehicle before the end of 2016, according to officials from the South Korean car maker.

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Autocar reports the new model, known internally as ‘DE’, will be based on a unique platform. It will be powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, and feature a new-generation automatic transmission.

The report claims a conventional hybrid version will be joined further down the track by a plug-in hybrid model with a larger battery pack.

The all-new petrol-electric model will measure approximately 4.3 metres from nose to tail, and is said to be styled like a crossover version of a small wagon, similar to the Peugeot 2008.

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Set to be sold globally, the compact crossover will also aim to steal sales from the world’s top-selling hybrid, the Toyota Prius.

Kia says its market research has shown that many Prius buyers would like a dedicated hybrid model with less extreme styling, even if it means sacrificing some fuel efficiency.

Those findings have influenced Kia’s design team, and senior company sources claim DE was given a “good validation” when subjected to customer research in the UK.

Autocar reports the platform used to underpin DE will find its way beneath a range of different body styles in the future.

Kia unveiled the diesel-electric Optima T-Hybrid sedan at last month’s Paris motor show and confirmed plans to put the powertrain into mass production in the near future.

The South Korean manufacturer already makes a petrol-powered Optima Hybrid, though it is not currently available in Australia and remains a low priority for our market.

Note: Kia Niro concept pictured.