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Frankfurt show: Kia’s smallest SUV

De (rigeur) Niro: Kia’s latest concept previews a car that will sit in the fashionable small SUV market.

Juke-rivalling Kia Niro shown in concept guise ahead of Frankfurt debut


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30 Aug 2013

KIA has revealed images of a new concept car that in all likelihood previews its first entry into the booming urban SUV segment, home to the Nissan Juke, Holden Trax and Ford EcoSport.

It’s called the Niro, and will make its world premiere at next month’s Frankfurt motor show: appropriate given it was penned a few hundred metres down the road at Kia’s European studio under the direction of Gregory Guillaume.

Remove the outlandish concept details such as the ‘butterfly’ doors and oversized wheels and you get a high-riding silhouette with hints of Kia’s Rio hatch – a car that would likely donate many of its underpinnings to a production Niro.

The concept sports the familiar ‘Tiger Nose’ grille developed by Kia president (and Kia/Hyundai design boss) Peter Schreyer, prominent side scallops, triangular head- and tail-lights and contrasting roof and pillars.

The sparse cabin is dominated by Audi-style flatscreen and simple switchgear, as well as heavy use of hard-wearing cloth and stainless steel.

The full reveal this week comes two weeks after Kia released a pair of teaser images. The Korean brand insists it will await customer response before embarking on production of a sub-Sportage SUV, but with the segment growing as fast as it is, you’d be bold to bet against it.

Small SUV sales are up 16.5 per cent in Australia this year – though the upward trend isn’t limited to just our shores. As well as the Trax, Juke and EcoSport, other contenders due here by mid-2014 include the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008.

“The Kia Niro hints at a possible future B-segment contender ready to take on the urban environment with style and tenacity,” the company said in a statement.

“Niro features intriguing elements not always associated with smaller cars and has been created in Europe with European tastes and expectations very much in mind.” Kia has not released details, but says the car will preview an “innovative” new powertrain – possibly a plug-in hybrid system. Any roadgoing version would be expected to share a platform with the existing Rio and Soul hatchbacks, and likely use the same 1.6-litre engine.

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