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Future models - Kia - Rio

Kia’s baby to expand

New openings: The new Rio will be launched as a five-door hatch, with three-door and sedan variants to follow (current model pictured).

Three-body line-up with class-leading technology for next year’s Kia Rio range

Kia logo25 Oct 2010

By PHILIP LORD

KIA will release a new Rio late next year, arming its most popular nameplate with cutting-edge technology, a wider selection of models and local suspension tuning.

With the new UB-series Rio, Kia will have significantly advanced powertrain technology, including six-speed transmissions and possibly the latest direct-injection four-cylinder petrol engine.

The new Rio will arrive in Australia as a five-door hatch by October 2011 and will be joined by two new variants – a sedan and a three-door hatch – shortly after.

17 center imageSenior product manager for Kia Motors Australia Nick Reid said the MY2012 Rio will use 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines – most likely the next generation versions of the Gamma engine seen in the Hyundai i20 and i30.

It is believed that the direct-injection version of the Gamma 1.6-litre petrol engine and the six-speed automatic transmission developed jointly by Hyundai and Kia will headline the powertrain options for the UB Rio.

Hyundai-Kia has already announced developments of the Gamma engines, specifically the direct-injection petrol Gamma GDI 1.6 that will be fitted to the next Hyundai Avante (locally known as the Elantra and expected to be renamed i35 for our market when it arrives next year).

Previewed at Korea’s Busan show in April, the i35’s Gamma GDI 1.6 delivers 103kW and 167Nm of torque, up from 91kW and 156Nm in the current multi-point injected 1.6-litre Gamma petrol engine.

The multi-point injected Gamma 1.4-litre as fitted to i20 develops 74kW at 5500rpm and 136Nm at 4200rpm.

While speculation exists to suggest that Hyundai-Kia will also build a direct injection version of this engine, Mr Reid hinted that the Rio would retain the existing 1.4-litre Gamma engine to remain competitive at entry level.

Mr Reid said he expects the five-door to again be the most popular variant in the new UB range, but that there would be incremental volume gleaned with the new three- and four-door variants.

“We think the bulk of the volume will be the five-door, but a lot of companies are walking away from three-door,” he said.

Overseas reports suggest that the UB Rio will be built off a modified Hyundai i20 platform and that interior design and finish is expected to equal that of the just-released Volkswagen Polo.

Spy photos of a camouflaged Rio on the internet show a design strongly reminiscent of the Cerato hatchback.

Mr Reid said he had driven a pre-production UB Rio with European suspension tune while in Korea recently with the Australian suspension engineer responsible for the localisation of Sportage and Cerato, Graeme Gambold.

“This was a good starting point for us,” said Mr Reid. “In the New Year, we’ll start doing local testing. With this car, we’ve got a little more time than Sportage or Cerato.” Rio is a vital model for Kia’s Australian fortunes, accounting for 40 per cent of its 2010 sales total, although the current model is down to 7.2 per cent of the light-car segment to the end September from 7.8 per cent in the same period last year.

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