Kia is examining the possibility of a performance variant and SUV offshoot of the recently revealed 2017 Rio range, with at least the latter a very real possibility.
Speaking to CarAdvice at last week’s Paris motor show, Kia Motors Europe’s chief operating officer, Michael Cole, said that while there are no plans for the hot hatch Kia Rio GT for the moment, a styling-focused GT Line model will likely start the process first.
“[There’s] always an opportunity [for Rio GT], but it’s not planned” Cole told CarAdvice.
“We haven’t plan a GT in the Rio, we have it in the (Europe-only) C’eed, we have it in Optima, but you can never say never, of course. And maybe what we might look at before then, is maybe a GT Line so something with the styling like we’ve done with the Sportage where we don’t have a full GT - but we do have a vehicle with the full GT styling.”
As for a sub-compact SUV based on the new Kia Rio, Cole admitted that it’s definitely a segment in which the brand is missing a model.
“We have no confirmed plans, obviously there is opportunity to have a compact vehicle off the same platform but its not something we are confirming yet, it’s a product we are still studying.
“We are seeing the growth of all the SUVs, Sportage is a huge success [...] and we can see what is happening in the B crossover segment and it’s growing. Of course we don’t have the product we would ideally like to have in that segment, so it's appealing to us, and it's something we would like to see in the line-up in the future.”
The Rio-based SUV is likely to be a separate model to be the recently unveiled Kia Niro hybrid, as that is a separate platform all together with a big focus on low-emission powertrains for the European market.
The new Kia Rio will launch in Australian market early next year, with an existing 1.4-litre powertrain and a four-speed automatic or six-speed manual. It will then gain a six-speed automatic and a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine by middle of 2017, with other future derivatives expected to follow.