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AIMS: Kia’s new Rio hatch rolls in

Lowdown: The sportier new-gen Rio five-door is one of lowest cars in Kia’s product range, with overall height just 1455mm.

Redesigned Rio five-door headlines Kia’s local show act, ahead of August launch

Kia logo24 Jun 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

KIA Motors Australia will use next week’s Australian International Motor Show opening in Melbourne to unveil its crucial new-generation Rio light car ahead of its mid-August launch.

With stocks of the current Rio all but depleted, Kia is facing a “lean” couple of months without its biggest-selling model, but the company expects a significant boost in new registrations when the redesigned five-door reaches the market late in August or early September.

Sedan and three-door model variants will not reach Australia until early next year, although the five-door hatch – which made its world premiere at the Geneva motor show in March – is expected to be the volume seller in the new UB-series range.

The sedan was shown at the New York Auto Show in April – and seen in ‘K2’ four-door form in Shanghai around the same time (which will not be coming here) – while the three-door version has been confirmed as making its debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Kia Motors Australia spokesman Kevin Hepworth told GoAuto this week that the five-door Rio would be the headline act at the Melbourne show, with other model prospects under consideration for Australia – including the all-new Picanto city car – not making an appearance on the stand.

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“We will be concentrating on Rio,” Mr Hepworth said. “That car’s going to do very, very well for us, but there’s going to be a couple of lean months before (it arrives).”

Rio is easily Kia’s biggest-selling vehicle in Australia, racking up more than 9000 sales last year – more than twice that of other key models such as Sportage, Cerato and Carnival, although supply restrictions have limited the potential of certain variants, such as the diesel-powered Sportage.

This year, Rio sales are down 23.1 per cent as supplies of the current model disappear, with Mr Hepworth confirming that “on-ground stock is almost now gone”.

As GoAuto has reported, the new-generation Rio is wider (up 25mm) and lower (+15mm) than the current model, which assists with a more aggressive stance, while a 70mm longer wheelbase (to 2570mm) assists with more passenger space and cargo volume.

Overall height is just 1455mm, which makes it one of the lowest cars in Kia’s product range.

Pricing and model range details are still to be revealed for the Rio, but expect pricing to start from around $16,000.

Mr Hepworth confirmed that the powertrain line-up at launch would include the new 1.6-litre GDI (gasoline direct injection) four-cylinder petrol engine.

In the US, this engine develops 103kW of power and 167Nm of torque, driving the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

Fuel economy is rated between 5.8 and 7.8L/100km, depending on the variant and aided by a fuel-saving automatic idle-stop system.

In Europe, the engine line-up includes 80kW/136Nm 1.4-litre ‘Gamma’ and 63kW/118Nm 1.2-litre ‘Kappa’ four-cylinder petrol engines, while diesels include a 66kW/216Nm 1.4-litre four and a 51kW/162Nm 1.1-litre three-cylinder.

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