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Paris show: Kia teases Rondo - second car in a week

In a new light: Kia’s new Rondo compact people-mover has been revealed in renderings that GoAuto has turned from ‘negative’ images to ‘positives’ to show a clearer view of the design.

Kia set to turn negative into a positive with sleek new Rondo MPV set for Paris

26 Jul 2012

KIA Motors has sprung teaser images of its next-generation Rondo compact people-mover, just three days after showing renderings of its all-new 2013 Cerato small car.

The third generation of Australia’s most affordable seven-seat people-mover will be publicly revealed at the Paris motor show in September, ahead of the Cerato’s debut at the Los Angeles show in November.

The new Rondo – which is known as Carens in some other markets, including South Korea – is expected to lob in Australia as the Rondo 7 around April next year, about a month after the Cerato in what is shaping up as a huge first half for the fast-growing Korean importer.

The two drawings of the Rondo issued by Kia last night resembled ‘negative’ photos, to tease car fans a little, but GoAuto has Photoshopped the drawings into ‘positive’ images, revealing a sleek aero design with a close family resemblance to the Cerato and other models from Kia’s acclaimed designer, Peter Schreyer.

In the short media release accompanying the images, Kia said the new Rondo had been conceived around the theme ‘responsive space’, getting a new cab-forward design, lower roofline, longer wheelbase, larger wheels or up 18 inches and a chrome beltline.

“The new Rondo will combine sporty looks with spacious functionality and an emotional appeal that is becoming a regular feature of Kia products,” the company said.

17 center imageFrom top: The original renderings of the 2013 Kia Rondo 2011 Kia Rondo Rendering of 2013 Kia Cerato.

The new Rondo will be tasked with lifting the fortunes of the small family bus, which has struggled to make an impact on the Australian market in its two forays here.

The latest model, which was launch here in April 2008, has achieved only 183 sales in the first six months of this year.

Priced at about $10,000 under any other seven-seat people-mover on the market, the Rondo has been highly regarded by owners for its practicality and affordability, but conquest sales have been hard to come by due to lacklustre styling and old-tech underpinnings, including a 2.0-litre engine producing just 108kW and four-speed automatic transmission.

This time around, that should not be an issue, as the new design is right up to the minute, and customers can expect the latest engines and transmissions.

The current generation was built on the same platform as the Kia Magentis/Hyundai Sonata, but it is unclear if the new model will be planted on the Korean group’s i45/Optima architecture or something smaller, such as the i30/Cerato or Ceed.

The new Rondo will be Kia’s third attempt with the model here, having tried briefly with the six-seat, 1.8-litre Carens in 2000 and 2001.

The second generation that hit showrooms as the Rondo in 2008 has been almost in a class of its own since Toyota withdrew the Avensis, competing mainly against five-seat compact SUVs.

Starting at $25,990 (plus on-road-costs), the Rondo 7 Si manual is $15,000 cheaper than Kia’s market leading Grand Carnival people-mover, which has been outselling the Rondo range by 10 to one.

The range-topping Rondo 7 SLi is $31,390, getting an automatic transmission as standard.

Unlike the full-size Carnival’s accommodation, the Rondo’s foldaway third-row seat is only for occasional use by small children.

The Rondo is the only sub-$30k seven-seat people-mover on the Australian market, with the ageing SsangYong Stavic starting at $36,613.

The fortunes of the Rondo have been in stark contrast with Kia’s other, fresher models in Australia, when overall Kia sales are up 23.2 per cent this year.

Sportage and Sorento sales are both up by about a third, while Optima volumes have more than doubled since the arrival of a new entry model and extra supplies.

With the Rondo and Cerato getting the full Schreyer styling treatment in their new generations, the Carnival will become the only old-school Kia left on the market, at least until it gets its own total makeover in about 2014.

The Paris debut set for Rondo on September 27 suggests the vehicle has been designed at Kia’s main European styling studios, while a Los Angeles unveiling for the Cerato might indicate a Californian studio design job.

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